The following is an excerpt from the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, as published by the CRA, where the term “you” refers to the taxpayer. The official document uses the term “we” when referring to the CRA; in the text below, “we” has been replaced with the term “CRA.”
1) You have the right to receive tax entitlements and to pay no more and no less than what is required by law.
2) You have the right to service in both official languages. The Official Languages Act gives you the right to communicate with, and receive services from, the federal government in English or French at designated bilingual offices.
3) You have the right to privacy and confidentiality. Under this right, you can expect the CRA to protect and manage the confidentiality of your personal and financial information in accordance with the laws that the CRA administers.
4) You have the right to a formal review and a subsequent appeal.
5) You have the right to be treated professionally, courteously, and fairly.
6) You have the right to complete, accurate, clear, and timely information. You can expect the CRA to provide you with complete, accurate, and timely information in plain language that explains the laws and policies that apply to your situation.
7) You have the right, unless otherwise provided by law, not to pay income tax amounts in dispute before you have had an impartial review. However it should be noted that interest will be charged during this period.
8) You have the right to have the law applied consistently so everyone gets their entitlements and pays the right amount of tax.
9) You have the right to lodge a service complaint and to be provided with an explanation of the CRA’s findings. You can expect that if you make a service-related complaint, you will be listened to and given the opportunity to explain your situation.
10) You have the right to have the costs of compliance taken into account when administering tax legislation.
11) You have the right to expect the CRA to be accountable. When the CRA makes a decision about your tax or benefit affairs, you can expect an explanation about that decision and information about your rights and obligations.
12) You have the right to relief from penalties and interest under tax legislation because of extraordinary circumstances. This right means that the CRA will consider your request to waive or cancel all or part of any penalty and interest charges, if you were prevented from complying with your tax obligations because of circumstances beyond your control.
13) You have the right to expect the CRA to publish their service standards and report annually.
14) You have the right to expect the CRA to warn you about questionable tax schemes in a timely manner.
15) You have the right to be represented by a person of your choice. You can choose another person to represent you and give advice about your tax and benefit affairs.
16) You have the right to lodge a service complaint or request a formal review without fear of reprisal.
The Taxpayer Bill of Rights is an important component of dealing with the CRA in tax matters. The full text is available on the CRA website at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pub/tg/rc17/rc17-e.html.
The CRA’s role is to administer tax and related benefits as outlined in the laws passed by parliament. A taxpayer can expect courteous service but is still expected to meet his or her tax obligation.
(Reprinted from Comment, edition 293, with permission of the Institute of Advanced Financial Education, Queens Quay West, Toronto, Ontario)