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Taxpayers' Ombudsman

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Personal Income Tax -> Taxpayers' Ombudsman

Your Rights as a Taxpayer

Taxpayer Bill of Rights / Taxpayer's Ombudsman

The Canadian Taxpayer Bill of Rights is a set of 15 rights that you have when dealing with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).   These rights are:

  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, as an individual, not to pay income tax amounts in dispute before you have had an impartial review. (see note)
  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

Note regarding right #7:  Interest will accrue, and must be paid if the amount in dispute is found to be owing by the taxpayer.

Service rights above are in blue.

See Service Standards in the CRA for the current service standards for:

    - Tax returns benefits, and claims

    - Pension, deferred, and education plans

    - Charities

    - Rulings and interpretations

    - Issue resolution - their goal is to resolve service complaints within 30 days.

For each of the above topics they have a "timeliness" standard.

Taxpayers' Ombudsman

The Taxpayers' Ombudsman is responsible for ensuring that the CRA respects the service rights outlined in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights - these rights are numbers  5, 6, 9 to 11, and 13 to 15 above.

The Office of the Taxpayers' Ombudsman (OTO) provides independent and impartial reviews of complaints about how the CRA serves and treats taxpayers, and addresses systemic problems that affect many taxpayers.

As a result of intervention by the Taxpayers' Ombudsman, the CRA has

bullet issued apologies;
bullet released bank accounts they had seized;
bullet cancelled penalties and interest they were charging;
bullet reviewed some of its internal policies and procedures; and
bullet in some instances, ended collection activities.

The Taxpayers' Ombudsman can review the following service-related complaints about the CRA:

bullet mistakes;
bullet undue delays;
bullet poor or misleading information; or
bullet staff behaviour.

The Ombudsman cannot review complaints that are not service-related, or complaints that do not fall within their mandate, such as:

bullet complaints relating tax policy or program legislation;
bullet matters that are before the courts;
bullet complaints that other statutory bodies would deal with, such as Official Languages.

The Taxpayers' Ombudsman also does not direct the CRA to take action.

If you do not agree with an assessment or a determination made by the CRA, see the CRA information on complaints and disputes.

Before contacting the Taxpayers' Ombudsman, you should give the CRA the opportunity to resolve your complaint, by following these steps:

  1. Try to resolve the issue with the CRA employee you have been dealing with (or phone the number you've been given).
  2. If you are not satisfied, talk to the employee's supervisor.
  3. If you are still not satisfied with the way your issue is being handled file a formal complaint with CRA by submitting a completed Form RC193, Service-Related Complaint.  See the pamphlet RC4540, Complaints and Disputes, and the CRA Make a service complaint web page.

See Tips for Dealing with the CRA on the Taxpayers' Ombudsman website.

If you are still not satisfied with the handling of your service-related complaint, contact the Office of the Taxpayers' Ombudsman.  There are no costs associated with filing a complaint or for any service provided by the Taxpayers' Ombudsman.

Before submitting a complaint to the Taxpayers' Ombudsman, review the information on their website, including their general tips when submitting a complaint.

Taxpayers' Ombudsman Newsletter, Perspectives - The first newsletter was issued in March 2012.  You can subscribe to their mailing list to automatically receive the newsletter in the future.  The first newsletter describes some cases of complaints that have been resolved by the OTO.

See also:

Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP)

Taxpayer Relief Provisions (Fairness Provisions)

Revised: December 04, 2017

 

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