Many Canadians expect to get a tax refund Direct Deposited or receive a cheque in the mail attached to their annual Notice Of Assessment (NOA). You generally receive a tax refund because you overpaid your income tax during the course of the year through deductions taken out of your paycheques. This usually isn’t due to an error by your employer, but because you were able to claim unforeseen deductions or tax credits that reduced your tax liability — a happy surprise! But this doesn’t necessarily mean the Canada Revenue Agency will send you the money. Here’s what you should do if you don’t receive that refund when expected.
Check the Accounting
If your refund is withheld, the CRA can tell you why.
The CRA may keep some or all of your refund if you:
- owe or are about to owe a balance
- have a garnishment order under the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act
- have certain other outstanding federal, provincial, or territorial government debts, such as student loans, employment insurance and social assistance benefit overpayments, immigration loans, and training allowance overpayments
- have any outstanding GST/HST returns from a sole proprietorship or partnership
CRA My Account holders can access their Statements of Account via the online portal.
If you are not a CRA My Account holder, contact CRA for a Statement of Account. The CRA will mail it to you at no charge.
The Statement of Account will show all the amounts you owed to the CRA for the last several years, going back as far as you request, and all the amounts you’ve paid. If your refund was withheld because you owe taxes for a previous year, it will show in the Statement of Account.
If You Were Reassessed
If you see from your Statement of Account that you owe money due to a reassessment, the best course of action is to call the CRA and ask for further explanation (if it is not clear) and get a copy of the reassessment.
Often times a reassessment occurs because CRA requested supporting documents and you did not submit them within the time frame provided. If this is the case, and you were denied a credit or deduction, you can usually submit the documents to that tax centre where the request originated and have your claim reinstated.
If you believe the reassessment is wrong and if it was issued within the last 90 days, you can file a Notice of Objection. This tells the CRA that you disagree with the reassessment and want to fight it.
If you miss the 90-day deadline, you still have another year to object, but you’ll have to give reasons why you were unable to object within the first 90 days. If you’re in this situation it may be a good idea to consult with an accountant or a tax lawyer, especially if the amount of money at issue is substantial.
More information can be found in this link from TurboTax: Defining Notice of Assessment, Notice of Reassessment, Request for Information and Audit.
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