Tips for Dealing with a CRA Collections Officer

When a collection officer calls from the Canada Revenue Agency here are some things to know:

cra collections officer

  1. Try to be polite. Remember a collection officer is a real person who spends their day on the phone talking to people who don’t want to deal with them.
  2. Even if they wanted to, a collection officer does not have the ability to change or negotiate the total amount of debt that you owe. The only thing that they can negotiate is the terms in which you can pay your debt to the Canada Revenue Agency in full.
  3. In most cases a collection officer will follow specific policies and procedures in handling a file. This is to ensure that Canadians are treated equally regardless of what jurisdiction they are in or who is their collection officer.
  4. If you are going to require more then 6 months to pay your debts in full be prepared to provide financial disclosure. This may include copies of bank statements.
  5. It is standard practice for a collection officer to ask you to apply for a loan to pay the debt in full. If you do not qualify, they will typically want some sort of evidence that you have actually tried.
  6. The fastest way to break a payment arrangement is to fail to file a current tax return on time or pay it in full. The expectation in a payment arrangement is that you will remain compliant in all of your tax filings going forward.
  7. If you can’t meet your payment arrangement you are better off calling and telling the officer your circumstances. Ignoring the problem will typically lead to legal action.
  8. Just because you have a payment arrangement with the Canada Revenue Agency doesn’t mean that you are protected. At any time, even if you are compliant with the terms of the arrangement, the CRA may change the arrangement or proceed with legal action.
  9. If you disagree with the amount that you owe, or if you simply can not pay what you owe please consider seeking help from a qualified tax practitioner.