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What is a Taxpayer Relief Application and how do I qualify?

September 11, 2023

A taxpayer relief application is a request to do one or more of the following things:

  • Cancel or waive penalties or interest
  • Accept late, amended, or revoked income tax elections
  • Request a refund or reduce the amounts payable

Most commonly the Taxpayer Relief application is used to request a reduction in the amount of penalties and interest charged by the Canada Revenue Agency. This cost of non-compliance often arises from filing late returns and can significantly increase over the years causing taxpayers difficulties in filing and payment of their taxes.

Understanding that not all acts of compliance are in the control of taxpayers, Canada Revenue Agency offers a way to reduce non-compliance charges through taxpayer relief provisions. Under the program, relief from penalties and interest may be granted when the following reasons prevent a taxpayer from meeting their obligations:

  1. Canada Revenue Agency error
  2. Canada Revenue Agency delay
  3. Natural or Human-made disaster
  4. Death/accidents/ serious illness/emotional or mental distress
  5. Civil disturbance or disruption in services
  6. Inability to pay/financial hardship
  7. Other circumstances

If any one of the following reasons is applicable, the process can be started by filing out form rc4288 – Request for Taxpayer Relief.

The qualifying stages of the application require a detailed explanation of your circumstances and how they prevented compliance with tax obligations. Supporting documents validating your claims must be included as they will increase the chances of a success outcome. Information on supporting documents can be found on page 1 of rc4288 and should be used as a guide to building a strong case for relief.

Once the application is submitted, the process from start to finish can take up to 12 months or more to complete but varies on the level of complexity and whether or not any additional information is required. You will be able to monitor the progress of your application by signing into your my CRA account and accessing the progress tracker sidebar.

If you have any questions about whether or not you qualify for Taxpayer Relief or need help in preparing an application, please contact us at Farber Tax Solutions.