I have seen a fair number of clients not file tax returns for several years. Some of them have been lucky and CRA has not found them or have left them alone (for now). However, in other cases, if you do not file, CRA will make up numbers and say that this is your tax return. And dealing with CRA in Toronto is never enjoyable. What is to stop the CRA from saying you made $1,000,000 a year if you don’t file your tax return?
And if the CRA issues you a “Notice of Assessment” with $1,000,000 as your income and you do nothing, you will get a call from a CRA collection agent asking for the tax on $1,000,000. If you continue to ignore them, they will empty out your bank accounts, place a lien on your home and garnish your wages or your business income until it is paid off.
I wish I was making this up. I had a case where a corporation had GROSS SALES (not profit) of $100,000 per year. The corporation had filed for a couple of years but then the owner got sick and due to customers skipping payments, the owner was forced to cease operations. Since the business had ceased operations, the owner did not file tax returns for the later years. When CRA “filed’ the outstanding returns for the corporation and issued Notice of Assessments, CRA claimed the corporation made $150,000 of TAXABLE INCOME per year. How did they get that number? Who knows. But under Canada’s tax law, if CRA states a number and you don’t challenge it, it becomes a valid number and you have to pay it. You might get it reduced but you are at CRA’s mercy, which is not something I would not want in this situation.
Fortunately, the owner came to me and I was able to put together the corporation’s tax returns and filed a Notice of Objection (a formal letter to CRA saying you do not agree with the Notice of Assessment) with the CRA to ensure CRA would process the real returns. The CRA (eventually) processed the correct returns and the corporation’s $200,000 tax bill disappeared. Because we began dealing with CRA in Toronto immediately and directly, we could ensure the owner was not forced into a financial downward spiral.
This example shows the importance of reviewing all CRA letters (see my previous post on opening the mail) and dealing with it on a timely basis .
Most importantly you should always file your tax returns on time.
If you haven’t filed your old tax returns for you and/or your business, please contact me. I would be happy to help you in dealing with CRA in Toronto and sorting your taxes.
William Khalilieh is a Chartered Professional Accountant, based in Oakville, Ontario, who provides practical tax and accounting solutions to individuals and their businesses in the Greater Toronto Area