Monday, 22 October 2012

How to Deal With a Frozen Bank Account as a Result of a Canada Revenue Agency Tax Debt

When an individual or business has a tax debt owing to the Canada Revenue Agency, the Canada Revenue Agency will begin to pursue enforcement action to collect the debt. One method that the Canada Revenue Agency uses to collect debt is by freezing a bank account. 

A frozen bank account can be extremely disruptive and can cause incredible financial hardship. Many people feel blindsided when they go to the bank and find out that the bank has frozen all of the funds in their bank account. However, a frozen bank account that is the result of a tax debt generally doesn’t occur without warning. 

A Canada Revenue Agency collection practice usually is as follows:

1.       First you will be notified in writing that a tax debt is owed.

2.       Second, you will be sent another letter demanding payment of the tax debt.

3.       Finally, a “Requirement to Pay” letter will be sent to you and your bank, requiring the bank to freeze your bank account.  

When the “Requirement to Pay” letter is issued and sent to the bank, the bank must freeze the bank account indicated. The bank will then hold the money that is in the frozen bank account for 30 days and then will send the money to the Canada Revenue Agency.

The frozen bank account (even after the money has been sent to the Canada Revenue Agency) will remain frozen. Outside of losing all the money that was in the frozen bank account, the frozen bank account will now cause significant disruption because if your pay is directly deposited into the frozen bank account, the bank will continue to seize the money deposited into the frozen bank account and send it to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Once the CRA has frozen your bank account, you will almost always have to open a new account with another institution. Generally speaking, once the CRA has frozen a bank account the account holder will also see that the relationship they once had with their bank has been severely damaged. Most banks will stop offering credit and may even close existing credit products if they become aware that a customer has a tax debt owed to the Canada Revenue Agency. This is because some people who have tax debts end up filing for bankruptcy after being put under the pressure of CRA enforcement action.

Of course, if you have a tax debt and your bank account has not yet been frozen, it is advantageous to act before things come to that. Acting now doesn’t necessarily mean coming up with money you don’t have to pay off the tax debt. Acting now means seeking out professional guidance to deal with your tax problem before things get that far. If your bank account has been frozen you still have a chance to get your account unfrozen.  Getting a bank account unfrozen is difficult but can be achieved through programs that involve legislation that carries the power to stop certain collection actions, such as a frozen bank account.

If your bank account has been frozen or if you owe money to the Canada Revenue Agency that you do not have the means to pay, we can help – including getting your bank account unfrozen and coming up with a plan to deal with your tax debt. Contact DebtCare at 416-907-2582 or visit

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