September 05, 2023
The function and powers of the Canada Revenue Agency are found in both the Income Tax Act and the Excise Tax Act. There are occasions when individuals working within the CRA overstep their bounds with respect to function and power. As a check and balance for these situations and a means to keep the CRA and its employees accountable, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights was introduced in 2007.
Many taxpayers are unaware that the Taxpayer Bill of Rights exists, and they are not overly promoted by the Canada Revenue Agency in dealing with the taxpayer.
In any case, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights consists of 16 principles:
1. You have the right to receive 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
3. You have the right to privacy and confidentiality
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
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
8. You have the right to have the law applied consistently
9. You have the right to lodge a service complaint and to be provided with an explanation of our findings
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 us to be accountable
12. You have the right to relief from penalties and interest under tax legislation because of extraordinary circumstances
13. You have the right to expect us to publish our service standards and report annually
14. You have the right to expect us 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
16. You have the right to lodge a service complaint and request a formal review without fear of reprisal
All of these principles are key, however, it is most often that point 5 comes into play. A great number of people do not feel that they are treated professionally, courteously, or fairly in their dealing with the CRA. If that happens to be the case, points 9 and 16 should be considered in terms of keeping the CRA accountable. If you need help understanding or interpreting your rights as a taxpayer and what you can do if you feel they have been violated, please consult a professional to guide you accordingly. And don’t let the CRA tell you that point 15 does not apply in dealing with them.