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Taxpayer Relief Provisions
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 Filing Your Return -> Taxpayer Relief Provisions

Taxpayer Relief Provisions (Fairness Provisions)

Income Tax Act s. 220(3.1)

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has the ability to waive penalties and interest, accept late-filed, amended or revoked income tax elections,  and to provide income tax refunds beyond the 3-year period normally allowed (for individuals and testamentary trusts only).  There is a 10-year time limit on these taxpayer relief provisions (previously termed fairness provisions).  This means that to apply for leniency for tax year 2011, the application must be submitted to CRA by December 31, 2021.

The taxpayer relief provisions and 10-year time limit also apply to GST/HST registrants.

The taxpayer relief provisions can apply when a taxpayer or registrant has not been able to meet tax obligations due to:

bulletextraordinary circumstances
bulletactions of the CRA
bulletinability to pay or financial hardship (which may be hard to prove)
bulletother circumstances

The May 2019 Video Tax News Life in the Tax Lane video indicates that financial hardship may be difficult to prove unless the taxpayer is having difficulty "putting food on the table".

To make application under these provisions, taxpayers can complete form RC4288 - Request for Taxpayer Relief (see below), and submit it to their local tax services office.

A June 2011 Federal Court of Appeal decision, Bozzer v Canada, resulted in an outcome which benefited the taxpayer.  As a result, the taxpayer relief provisions can apply to reduce interest and penalties which have accumulated in the 10 taxation years preceding the request for leniency, even if the tax debt causing the interest arose prior to that period.  So, if a tax debt arose from a tax year prior to 2008, penalties and interest that have accumulated from 2008 to 2018 could still be reduced as a result of a 2018 request for leniency.

Re 2019 Flooding: Government of Canada offers taxpayer relief to Canadians affected by flooding. Resources

Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP)

Your Rights as a Taxpayer - Taxpayer Bill of Rights / Taxpayers' Ombudsperson

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Resources

Taxpayer relief provisions

Information Circular IC07-1 Taxpayer relief provisions

RC4288 Request for Taxpayer Relief - Cancel or Waive Penalties or Interest

Tax services offices

16-3 Cancellation or Waiver of Penalties and/or Interest re GST/HST

Revised: November 28, 2021


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