March 27, 2019
A CRA Appeal is your opportunity to appeal a Notice of Assessment or Reassessment but the CRA Appeals process can be a lengthy one. Here is what you need to know at every step of the way, from filing your Notice of Appeal to resolution.
What is CRA Notice of Appeal?
When you file your income tax return, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) reviews the return and sends you a Notice of Assessment. The CRA may, at a later date, go back and reassess your returns. If the agency does this, you will receive a Notice of Reassessment. If you agree with the assessment or reassessment, you can pay the tax owing (if any) and move on. However, if you disagree, you can object to the assessment.
This is done by completing a Notice of Objection. The deadline to file an objection is 90 days from the date on the Notice of Assessment or Reassessment. If you miss this deadline, you will need to request an extension. If you do this, you’ll need to explain why you were unable to file your objection within the 90-day window.
In your objection, you will need to lay out the facts and provide supporting documentation to confirm that your view is correct. The CRA appeals division will notify you when your objection has been received and an appeals officer from the CRA appeals branch will be assigned to your case and will review your objection. It can take quite some time for this to happen. Taxpayers often find themselves waiting many months and, in some cases, over a year to have their objection reviewed by a member of the tax appeal team.
Once reviewed, the CRA appeals branch will contact you to either confirm that your objection is valid, to change the Notice of Assessment or Reassessment, or confirm the original assessment or reassessment. If you agree with this decision, you can pay any taxes that are owed, and the matter will be considered closed. However, if you disagree, it is possible to file a tax appeal.
A Notice of Appeal is a document stating that you have made the decision to challenge the CRA in court. Much like with an objection, there is a time limit for filing a Notice of Appeal. You have 90 days from the date stamped on the response to your objection to file a Notice of Appeal form with the Tax Court of Canada. Again, is it possible to have this deadline extended, but you will need to provide a reason for why you were not able to file on time as well as proof to back up your claims. You must also show that you filed your tax appeal as soon as you could given your situation.
If you are considering filing a Notice of Appeal form and taking your case to tax court, it is critical that you have legal representation. The CRA will certainly have their Department of Justice lawyers present in the Tax Court of Canada (as well as in the Federal Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, if the situation escalates) and it’s vital that taxpayers have the same type of professional representation. The team at Farber is made up of ex-CRA and legal professionals who have in-depth knowledge of Canadian tax law as well as CRA processes. We can represent you in court, ensuring that your case is as strong as possible and presented clearly before the court.
What is a CRA Notice of Appeal Form and How to Fill it Out
The CRA Notice of Appeal form must be completed if you wish to begin the tax appeal process. (a) In the case of an individual state the home address in full and in the case of a corporation state address in full of principal place of business in the province in which the appeal is being instituted, (b) Identify the assessment(s) under appeal: include date of assessment(s) and, if the appeal is under the Income Tax Act, include taxation year(s) or, if the appeal is under the Excise Tax Act, include the period to which the assessment(s) relate(s), (c) Relate the material facts relied on, (d) Specify the issues to be decided, (e) Refer to the statutory provisions relied on, (f) Set forth the reasons the appellant intends to rely on, (g) Indicate the relief sought, and (h) Date of notice. As you can see, this is a very detailed form that contains a great deal of important information.
Completing a Notice of Appeal form is not easy nor is it something that should be taken lightly. If you make an error on your form, not only is it likely that your appeal will be unsuccessful, but you could potentially jeopardize your case going forward. Making changes after filing a tax appeal could potentially cause you to seem like someone who is unsure of the facts, which certainly weakens your case.
This is why it is critical to work with a professional. The Department of Justice can be very difficult to deal with. Canadian tax law and CRA processes are lengthy, complicated, and difficult for most taxpayers to understand. It is incredibly tough to correctly navigate these processes effectively. In addition, when you file a CRA Notice of Appeal form, you are doing more than simply completing a few lines. This form is the start of the appeals process that, in most cases, will end up in the Tax Court of Canada. Therefore, in addition to correctly completing the CRA appeal form, you will also need to accurately present your case.
For an appeal to have a chance of success, it needs to be clear, accurate, and detailed. You will need to properly explain your situation, provide details as to why you believe your viewpoint is correct, and have evidence to support your claims. If you are not able to do this, there is a very good chance that you will lose your appeal.
By working with a professional and by having a tax lawyer on your side to provide legal representation, you give your tax appeal the best chance of success. CRA lawyers are certainly experienced at tax law and all CRA processes, so you will want to have your own experienced representation as well.
The team at Farber will work with you to complete your Notice of Appeal form and prepare a case. We will review your situation, as well as your interactions with the CRA to date, and determine the best course of action that is most likely to lead to a successful appeal. We will work with you to gather the right evidence and structure your case in a manner that is straightforward and clear to understand. Our tax lawyers can then represent you in court and present your case fairly and accurately, making sure that your legal rights are respected and giving your appeal the best chance to succeed.
How to Appeal a Notice of Assessment
When it receives your completed taxes, the CRA will use the information that it has to review your return. It will then issue a Notice of Assessment. This notice could agree with the information stated in your returns and, if this is the case, you will likely agree with the assessment. In this case, you will pay the taxes owing (if there are any that you have not already paid) or receive a refund (if you are entitled to one). However, in some situations, the CRA will have a different take on your tax situation. This can happen for many reasons. If the CRA disagrees with the information you provided in your return, it will outline the changes in the Notice of Assessment. You will then be responsible for paying any taxes owing based on the numbers in the Notice of Assessment.
The CRA can also go back and reassess tax returns. This sometimes happens if the agency receives new information that could change the numbers in your return. For instance, the CRA matching program is a process where the CRA compares the numbers provided by individual taxpayers to information supplied by other sources. For instance, the agency may match the number you provided for your income with the number provided by your employer. Since many tax returns are now submitted online, most people do not submit their supporting documents (such as their T4 slip) when they file. This means you could have made an error entering your income which the CRA may not notice until it matches the information you provided with the details given by your employer.
The CRA has three years from the date on the initial assessment to reassess a tax return. That said, if the agency suspects negligence, carelessness, or fraud on your part, it can potentially extend the reassessment period.
If the CRA assesses or reassess your returns, and you disagree with the assessment or reassessment, you can object to it. The first step in this process is to file a Notice of Objection. This objection gives you the ability to challenge the CRA’s assessment of your tax returns and correct any information that you feel is inaccurate or missing. When you file an objection, you will need to provide proof to support your case. For instance, if the CRA has rejected the amount you claimed as charitable donations it will then be up to you to provide receipts as proof of your case. The more proof you have and the more clearly and accurately you are able to explain your case, the greater chance of success you will have with your objection.
The CRA appeals branch will review your objection. An appeals officer will likely contact you to state that they have been assigned to your case. Once the review has been completed, this officer will then deliver their decision. The officer will either uphold the information from the Notice of Assessment or Reassessment, accept your objection, or potentially make changes to the assessment or reassessment based on the information the agency has. If you disagree with this decision, you can file a formal appeal.
The CRA Appeals Division
The CRA appeals branch has detailed processes for objecting to assessments, applying for extensions, and appealing CRA decisions.
Taxpayers who disagree with a Notice of Assessment or Notice of Reassessment can begin the formal objection process by filing a Notice of Objection. In these cases, the taxpayer must explain why they object to the assessment or reassessment and provide proof to back up their claims. When a Notice of Objection is filed, it is reviewed by the CRA appeals division. An appeals officer will contact the taxpayer to let them know that they are reviewing the case and inform them when the objection review is completed.
There is a deadline in place to submit a formal objection. Generally, taxpayers have 90 days from the date on the Notice of Assessment/Reassessment to file a formal Notice of Objection. In situations where this deadline cannot be met, an extension may be possible. Taxpayers need to apply for this extension. This is done by sending an extension application along with the Notice of Objection (or request) by registered mail to the CRA Chief of Appeals. The application for extension must list the reasons why the notice was not filed on time, proof that the reason is valid, and proof that the taxpayer completed the Notice of Objection as soon as they were able to do so.
It is critical that care is taken when requesting an extension. The CRA sets deadlines for a reason and does not like to modify them without reasonable cause to do so. If you are able to provide proof as to why you weren’t able to file the Notice of Objection on time (for example, if you were hospitalized and could not file), then you will have a better chance at your application being accepted.
When the application is received, the CRA Chief of Appeals will consider the application and notify the taxpayer of their decision by mail.
If the extension is not granted, the taxpayer can apply to the Tax Court of Canada within 30 days of the decision by the CRA Chief of Appeals.
If this process is not handled properly, the chances of the CRA Chief of Appeals accepting your request are quite slim. Working with an experienced professional gives you the best chance of having the decision go in your favour.
The experienced team at Farber Tax Solutions is made up of legal and ex-CRA professionals who have years of experience in successfully navigating CRA processes and getting results for our clients. Not only do we know how to effectively handle the CRA and its complex processes, but our tax lawyers have an in-depth knowledge of Canadian tax law. We can assist you in filing a Notice of Objection, applying for an extension, and appealing the decision of the CRA Chief of Appeals. Our team will also review your tax situation, prepare a strong case, and represent you in tax court as needed. You can trust the Farber team to give you the best chance of success when dealing with the CRA appeals branch.
Appealing to the Tax Court of Canada
If you disagree with your tax assessment, the first formal step is to file a Notice of Objection. This notice will be sent to the CRA appeals branch and an appeals officer will review your file. This individual is independent from the CRA official who issued your assessment. They may contact you to discuss your situation. At this point, you will be able to explain your case, clarify any potential issues, and provide further proof to support your claims if the tax appeal officer requests that you do so. The CRA appeals officer will then review all elements of your file and come to a decision.
If you disagree with the decision made by the CRA appeals division regarding your Notice of Objection, you are able to file a tax appeal. This appeal will be heard by the Tax Court of Canada.
The Tax Court of Canada is a federal superior court. This means that it hears cases that arise under certain sections of federal law, such as the federal income tax act.
The first step to filing a tax dispute is to complete a Notice of Appeal form. You have 90 days from the date you received a response on your objection from the tax appeal officer to submit the Notice of Appeal form. On the Notice of Appeal documentation you must include:
- In the case of an individual state the home address in full and in the case of a corporation state address in full of principal place of business in the province in which the appeal is being instituted,
- Identify the assessment(s) under appeal: include date of assessment(s) and, if the appeal is under the Income Tax Act, include taxation year(s) or, if the appeal is under the Excise Tax Act, include the period to which the assessment(s) relate(s),
- Relate the material facts relied on,
- Specify the issues to be decided,
- Refer to the statutory provisions relied on,
- Set forth the reasons the appellant intends to rely on,
- Indicate the relief sought, and
- Date of notice.
This, obviously, is a large amount of information and it is important that this information is provided in both a clear and timely manner. It is especially crucial that you deliver reputable and concrete reasons for your dispute. You will need to be able to explain your case, argue your side of the story, and show evidence that supports your claims. The more detailed evidence you are able to provide, the greater the likelihood of your appeal being successful.
If you are considering appealing to the Tax Court of Canada, it’s critical that you have experienced professionals on your side. The team at Farber Tax Solutions will review your situation and the evidence, then use this information to prepare a detailed case backed up with strong proof, giving you the best chance at success.
In addition to preparing the case and completing the CRA appeal form, our legal team can also represent you in court, ensuring that your rights are respected and you receive the fair trial that you deserve. The CRA’s tax lawyers will obviously be experienced in every aspect of tax law, so having someone on your side with the same in-depth experience can make the difference between a difficult struggle and a successful appeal. Trust Farber to be on your side, level the playing field, and give you the best chance of success.
Appeals to the Federal Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada
Once the CRA reviews your tax return, it will provide you with a Notice of Assessment. It can later go back and review your returns again and, if it does this, you will receive a Notice of Reassessment. If you agree with this assessment or reassessment, you can pay the tax debt owing (if any) or receive the refund (if there is one) and consider the situation closed. However, if you disagree, you can complete a Notice of Objection to state that your viewpoint differs from that of the CRA. This objection will be reviewed by a CRA appeals official who will determine if the assessment will be changed due to your objection.
If you do not agree with the decision made by the CRA appeals division, you are able to file a formal tax appeal to the Tax Court of Canada. If you do this, your case will be heard in court and you will be given your chance to present your evidence and your side of the story. If you do not receive the decision you were hoping for from the tax court, that does not mean that your tax appeal must stop there. Taxpayers who are not satisfied with the judgment provided can take their case to the Federal Court of Appeal.
The Canadian Federal Court of Appeal is an appellate court that hears cases on federal matters. This means that it is empowered to hear an appeal of a case that was heard in the Tax Court of Canada. If you wish to take your case to the Court of Appeal, a Canadian tax lawyer must file a Notice of Appeal to the within 30 days of the Tax Court judgment, excluding July and August. The team at Farber can complete this Notice of Appeal on your behalf.
The Federal Court of Appeal has the power to dismiss the tax appeal or deliver a new decision on the case. In some situations, it will refer the matter back to the Tax Court. It’s important to note that, when taking a case to the Court of Appeal, a taxpayer is not able to present new arguments or evidence that was not presented to the Tax Court. This is not a situation where a taxpayer receives a brand new trial. Instead, it is an opportunity for the court to review the Tax Court’s decision. The Court of Appeal will determine, for example, if the tax court interpreted the situation and the laws correctly. Working with an experienced tax lawyer, such as the team at Farber, is critical at this stage as there is an incredible advantage to having an professional in tax law on your side during this review.
If you disagree with the decision made by the Federal Court of Appeal, there is another step you can take and that is requesting to present your case to the Supreme Court of Canada. If the case is accepted to be heard by the Supreme Court, it will review the decision made by the Federal Court of Appeal. Again, this is not a situation where you case is conducted all over again, it is a review of the original trial that attempts to determine if any errors were made and confirm that all laws were interpreted correctly.
Farber Tax Solutions can represent you at every stage of the CRA appeals process and in every level of court. Trust our experienced team to be on your side and give you the best chance of success.