OTTAWA – The Taxpayers’ Ombudsman, Sherra Profit, will be undertaking an examination into the systemic issue of the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA’s) practices regarding providing legal warnings to taxpayers when collecting unpaid taxes. The Ombudsman has received complaints alleging that the CRA is taking legal action, such as freezing bank accounts or garnishing wages, without notifying taxpayers first.
The examination will focus on how the CRA notifies taxpayers before taking legal action to recover tax debts, and whether the CRA makes information available to the public about the collections measures it can take. After the examination, the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman will make her findings public in a report.
The Ombudsman has published, on her website, a copy of the memorandum to the Minister of National Revenue launching this systemic examination. This is being done to support greater awareness and transparency to taxpayers regarding the work being done by her office.
The Taxpayers’ Ombudsman may initiate a systemic examination when complaints or questions are raised about a service issue that may impact a large number of taxpayers or a segment of the population. Recommendations arising from these examinations are aimed at improving the service provided to taxpayers by the CRA.
“While the CRA’s collections practices and collections officers’ behaviours are some of the most common complaints received in my office, we have received more specific complaints about the legal warnings aspect. CRA collections officers generally try to work out an acceptable payment arrangement that will allow taxpayers to avoid undue financial hardship. Taxpayers who contacted my office indicated they were taken by surprise, and said they have faced financial hardship and stress because of the lack of notice prior to CRA taking legal action.” – Sherra Profit , Taxpayers’ Ombudsman