Tips & advice

No way I owe! What should you do if you think the Canada Revenue Agency’s assessment is off

You’ve filed your taxes and eagerly await your return. Any day now, right? Then the assessment comes – you owe money. What happened?

Scenarios like this and many others occur in Canada each year. They can happen for many reasons, most commonly because of errors or misconceptions that still exist when it comes to filing taxes.

According to CRA spokeswoman Caitlin Workman in a response to Ellen Roseman’s column on Dealing with the Canada Revenue Agency, it’s important to remember that the onus is on taxpayers to ensure their tax obligations are met.

Here are some tips to help you make sure your taxes are done right the first time:

–  Be sure to use all the resources available to you – the CRA offers a number of ways that taxpayers can connect with them – phone, internet, in writing and in person. There are also a number of forms and publications that are available to help taxpayers understand and fulfill their tax obligations.

–  Keep your address updated – If the CRA mails an assessment to you and you don’t receive it, it’s your problem, not theirs. The lesson here? Immediately update your address with the CRA whenever you move or leave the country for an extended period of time.

–  If you realize you’ve made a mistake, know how to fix it – If you need to make a change to a return, don’t file another return for that year. Wait until you receive your notice of assessment before requesting a change to a return that has not been processed. The good news? You can request a change to a return for a tax year ending in any of the 10 previous calendar years.

–  If you still don’t agree – If you’ve contacted the CRA and you still don’t agree with their assessment or decision, you have the right to a formal review. The next steps vary depending on your dispute.

–  File your taxes right the first time—Use tax software like TurboTax – which is NETFILE-certified and listed by The Canada Revenue Agency. It not only ensures you’re filing correctly, but guarantees you maximize your tax refund.