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 2008, the application must be submitted to CRA by December 31, 2018.
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:
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.
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Resources
Revised: March 30, 2021
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