Monday, 25 May 2015

Fighting a Wage Garnishment that Wasn't Issued by the Court

The only type of wage garnishment that is not issued by the court is one that relates to government debt, like debt to CRA, or other less common debts, like debts related to EI overpayments.

Where CRA garnishments are concerned, if you owe money, CRA can issue a wage garnishment without notice to you and without a court order. The wage garnishment could be up to 50% of your earnings. Once your employer is served with a wage garnishment from CRA they have to honour it or they too could get stuck with responsibility for your tax debt.

Wage garnishments are very embarrassing and often CRA finds out where you work and where to serve them because you gave them this information. Oh yes….remember that nice CRA agent who phoned and said that if you filled out some financial forms including where you work that you could make a payment plan for 3 months. Only the payment plan you agreed to was more than you could afford and Bam! Wage garnishment.

Once a wage garnishment is put in place by CRA you have 4 options:

1.       Pay the tax debt – beg, borrow, steal to get the money (we were kidding on the steal option – the other 2 are viable). Perhaps you can refinance your mortgage or borrow the money from your family. This still leaves a debt outstanding but at least your creditor is not the government.

2.       Ask CRA to reduce or remove the wage garnishment – we wish you good luck with this option. Likely this option will lead to you divulging more information to CRA for them to use against you. In all seriousness, CRA agents are very skilled at what they do – if you plan to try to negotiate directly with CRA, it is best to do so through a seasoned financial professional who is experienced at dealing with them!

3.       Go to tax court – if you can’t pay the debt in full it is highly unlikely, especially with your shiny new wage garnishment, that you can afford to go out and get a lawyer. Tax court is not like what you may remember from Peoples’ Court – it is not a good idea to go to tax court without a lawyer. You will be going up against a trained CRA lawyer who works in the tax court daily and knows the law intimately.

4.       Consumer proposal or bankruptcy – either option would immediately stop a CRA wage garnishment. Whether or not this is an option will depend on other financial circumstances.

The options are clear. However, where the less common government debts that arose as a result of fraud are concerned, EI overpayments being a good example, option number 4 will not work because debts that arise from fraud are not protected in a consumer proposal or bankruptcy.

If you owe CRA a debt, don’t ignore it. Seek out professional financial assistance and get that debt dealt with. DebtCare can help. Call us today at 1-888-890-0888.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Would You Go on Trial for Murder Without a Lawyer? Dealing with Debt

Would you go on trial for murder without a lawyer? We think it is safe to assume that the answer is no! Why? Because the stakes are high and the Crown attorney is a professional appointed by the Attorney General/Minister of Justice to enforce the law. Little old you can’t go up against a trained, seasoned trial lawyer!

If you wouldn’t go on trial without a legal representative, why in the world would you ever go to a Trustee in Bankruptcy to seek help with your debt without financial representation?

Like a Crown attorney, a Trustee in Bankruptcy is an officer appointed by a government official. Their duty is to administer bankruptcies and proposals under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. Part of that duty is to ensure that your creditors get the fairest possible financial outcome.

The law itself protects people when filing a bankruptcy or proposal, not the Trustee in Bankruptcy – they are simply administering legislation. While many advertise the benefits of contacting them about a bankruptcy or proposal, the law itself sets the stage for the benefits while the Trustee simply administers the process you are legally entitled to.

Part of this process means evaluating your assets, investments, income and liabilities and determining how much money your creditors receive. In instances of consumer proposals, the Trustee receives payment based on a percentage of the proposal. Some have questioned whether this model poses a conflict of interest because a larger proposal = a larger fee.

Also important is the fact that different Trustees administer files differently. While some deploy due diligence to verify the information in your application at the sign up stage, some have administration departments that do so after the fact. It is not uncommon, after a bankruptcy, for the bankrupt to receive communication from the Trustee that some information was incorrectly disclosed, meaning that you owe surplus income in your bankruptcy or that something that you thought would be protected won’t be!

Where your financial future is concerned, the stakes are too high and that is why you should never go to a Trustee unrepresented. Do you need a lawyer? No, but you definitely need an experienced financial professional to guide you through the bankruptcy or consumer proposal process.

Why is this different? Because you pay this professional directly! They are hired to represent and counsel you. Part of this counsel means working with you to structure your financial information and even bring it forward to a Trustee on your behalf. They will help you make sure that there are no holes in your application or unnecessary information that could cause you problems.

If you are thinking about a bankruptcy or consumer proposal, do your due diligence. Both are effective solutions for dealing with debt, you just want to ensure that you end up with the fairest possible terms.

For more about effective representation in the bankruptcy or consumer proposal process please contact DebtCare Canada today by calling 1-888-890-0888.