The CRA Appeals Process

Appeals under the Income Tax Act and Excise Tax Act

If you are having difficulty resolving an issue with the Canada Revenue Agency, we may be able to help you in the appeals process. Below are some of the steps we may take when representing your case to the CRA:

  • Once you have been assessed or reassessed a taxpayer may choose to object to the assessment or reassessment.  You must object within 90 days from the date of the assessment or reassessment.  If you fail to do so you can still request an extension of time within 15 months of the assessment or reassessment.
  • Once a notice of objection is accepted by the Canada Revenue Agency all collection action stops with the exception of a GST assessment or reassessment.  Although the collection of the debt is stayed, interest still continues to accrue.  It is in your best interest to pay the debt in full if you can to stop the interest from accruing.
  • A payment in full is not an admission that the assessment or reassessment is correct.  If you are successful either partially or in full with your objection, you will receive a refund if you paid the original assessment or reassessment unless you have a balance owing on your account for other amounts.

 

There are different rules for large corporations.

  • Once your objection has been accepted and screened by the officer it is set aside waiting for an appeals officer to be assigned.  Your file can be assigned to an appeals officer anywhere in Canada regardless of where you live.
  • Similar to many other tax practitioners, our firm files an open-ended notice of objection so that we can talk about ANYTHING to do with the assessment or reassessment.  However Large corporations must be specific on a notice of objection.
  • Once an appeals officer is assigned our firm obtains all of the documents that the Agency relied on to make the assessment or reassessment.  These documents include but are not limited to the audit report, the auditor’s working papers, records of interviews with the taxpayer, etc.
  • We examine these documents to see if the audit has been completed properly by the auditor.  The auditor may be a nice person but he or she is not your friend or advocate.  Most assumptions and calculations made by the auditor favor the Canada Revenue Agency and not you.
  • Written submissions and arguments are made to the appeals officer. The appeals officer reviews our submissions and provides you with a proposal letter.  You may be able to make further submissions at this time.
  • The appeals division will issue another reassessment notice if required.  Collection of the debt resumes 90 days later.

 

If you are not happy with the decision from the appeals officer, you may be able to re-object or proceed to the Tax Court of Canada.

Going to the Tax Court of Canada can be very costly.  This is why most taxpayers use the notice of objection process first before taking the Canada Revenue Agency to court.

This can be a long-drawn-out process.  As an example, we are currently as of January 2021 completing an objection for a corporation and its shareholder for the 2012 and 2013 years.  The audit was completed in 2017 and this is the second objection as we were not happy with the decision made by the first appeals officer.