When your tax debt is turned over to CRA Collections Department, that is when your problems really begin.
This is not an easy problem to fix but it can be done. Read on…
When CRA turns over a file to collections, that is when complete unreasonableness begins.
The qualifications to be a CRA “Collections Officer” are very little. You will not likely be dealing with someone who is knowledgeable about small business.
The Collections officer will likely see you as a bad person who deserves no forgiveness for anything and will pull no stops at collecting the tax dept.
At this stage there is very little reasoning that can be done and you can expect to suffer some very unpleasant results, such as; wage garnishees, liens on your home, grabbing rent payments due to you, calling your work, issuing a search and seizure, etc.
In Vancouver BC we have even seen the collections officer doing a tag team attack on the taxpayer. The two of them were a couple of underhanded thugs that we dealt with and as a result of a declaration of war, they had to get reasonable.
We had a similar situation recently in Edmonton Alberta TSO, where they were about to put a trucking company out of business. In this case it was not the bailiff and the Collections officer. It was a little tart who personally signed a Requirement to pay issued at the taxpayer’s bank. She had no sense and no integrity. However when the Minister of Revenue’s office called things took a quick change for the better.
CRA collections likes to say that “There are no restrictions under the Income Tax Act (ITA) or the Excise Tax Act (ETA… handles GST and HST). That is a bald faced misrepresentation of the truth. There are a ton of restrictions.
For starters on the issue of no restrictions under the ITA and the ETA, nowhere in either act does it state that “CRA Collections Officers can do whatever they want in order to collect tax debts. Nowhere does it say that CRA is above the laws of this land. There are many more laws than just the ETA and the ITA. One thing CRA continually over looks is common law. Common Law dictates that when an agency prints a Taxpayer’s Bill of rights, it is the law that CRA follow what they have printed.
A taxpayer can fight them on their own, but that certainly is a second best choice to hiring a seasoned Tax Representative.
When CRA Collections starts they pretty much ignore every good principle and policy they have. Collections treats the collection of tax as a free for all where anything goes. They are usually shocked to know that they have to follow the law. Often a call from somewhere above in CRA brings them round to realty.
A taxpayer can fight them on their own, but that certainly is a second best choice. What is required in fighting collections is an understanding that you are going to have to play hardball and expect to be fought at every corner. Expect to be treated badly and to be told that they can do whatever they want. Expect that they will quote sections of the ITA and the ETA as if the mere quoting of the act will seize your home and take your first born.
We know from locking horns it is a big fight and it is not even our assets they are after.
We start by working our way up the line. We start gathering names and contact info. We find out who the team leader is, who the team leader’s manager is, who the manager is, who the Assistant Director is and who the Director is.
We very quickly escalate things. Every day we attack. We file service complaints. (See complaints section of this web site.) We fax and follow up with registered mail. We mail everyone on the list including the Minister of Revenue and the Commissioner of CRA.
We outline where the Agency is breaking laws, violating the charter, the constitution, privacy rights, overstepping authority, where they ought to know better, where they are willfully blind, where they are grossly negligent, where they are biased, where they violate criminal law, the collections act, The ETA the ITA and civil law, etc.
We can fire more legal issues at them then they know how to deal with.
We do press releases.
We advise them that the Society of Professional Tax Representatives is going to be investigating this matter. (See our website for the Society’s constitution.)
We hound them on the phone.
As we build the pressure, things start melting down.
By the time the Minister’s office is on the phone calling the Director… Things start to getting very hot at the TSO (Tax Service Office. It often takes going all the way to the Minister to make them bend.
The fight is worth the battle, but it is not an easy one.
We don’t bother with the Ombudsman as he only investigates 20% of the cases, takes too long and has no legal authority over CRA. He can only make suggestions.
So if you are going to fight CRA in collections, be prepared to put lots of time and effort into the battle. Or you can hire us and we will do the battle on your behalf. They can not bamboozle us.