Businesses - Tax information newsletter

The Canada Revenue Agency is resuming additional activities in September: What businesses need to know

Due to the Government's ongoing efforts to support Canadians through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) suspended many audit, collections and compliance activities, and committed to resuming them in a thoughtful and phased manner.
The CRA is now gradually resuming additional activities, and may need to contact Canadian businesses to discuss their tax and benefit situations, with a specific call to action. However, you should be aware of scammers pretending to be CRA employees. They often call Canadians to try to trick them into paying fake debts, and may even contact you by email, letter, or text message.
To protect yourself from scams, it's important to know when and how the CRA might contact you. Here is some information on the CRA's activities that are resuming and tips on how to recognize when the CRA is trying to contact you and your business.

What we're doing

Starting in September, the following CRA programs will be resuming additional business activities, which may affect your business tax matters:
The CRA's dispute resolution, taxpayer relief, and CPP/EI rulings programs resumed operations in July 2020. We are currently contacting taxpayers who have filed objections, CPP/EI appeals to the Minister, or applied for relief of penalties and interest.
You may be contacted about a filed:

  • Objection
  • CPP/EI appeal
  • Application for relief of penalties and interest

Earlier this summer, the CRA resumed a full range of audit work and adapted our practices to reflect the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. We will continue to prioritize actions that are beneficial to the taxpayer or where taxpayers have indicated there is an urgency to advancing their audit.
We are also focusing on:

  • higher dollar audits first
  • audits close to completion
  • audits with a strategic importance to the Government of Canada, provinces and territories, or our tax treaty partners
  • efforts to combat suspected fraud and other criminal activity

Beginning in September, the CRA's small and medium business audits will focus on:

  • addressing complex and aggressive tax planning arrangements using partnerships and trusts by sophisticated and high income earners
  • Audits in the real estate sector aim to combat offensive non-compliance prevalent in Vancouver and Toronto areas.

Small and medium enterprises may receive a letter to inform and educate them on common areas of non-compliance. Errors found may not result in a re-assessment, but rather in an information review with the business, and be revisited for correction in future years.
Collections officers or agents from the debt management call centre will begin contacting individuals and businesses with a balance owing to discuss and re-evaluate their financial situation. You may also receive a call or letter from us about an outstanding balance. The officer will discuss payment options, and offer a payment arrangement, where possible.
We will also be contacting individuals and businesses that have not filed, or may have improperly filed their tax returns. This includes:

  • individual income tax reviews
  • business compliance reviews
  • information audits
  • non-resident compliance activities

If you have not filed, or may have filed improperly, you may receive a call or letter from the CRA. The agency will be taking an educational approach to help you file and correct your return. Errors found may not result in a re-assessment, but rather in an information review with you, and revisited for correction in future years.
You may also receive an automated call from the CRA to remind you of upcoming business filing requirements.
Outreach activities
Outreach activities will continue but will follow physical distancing guidelines when necessary.
You can request a CRA liaison officer session. Traditionally available in-person, business owners and self-employed individuals can fill out the Liaison Officer Service request form to have a Liaison Officer contact them by phone.
The CRA may also reach out to your business with information to assist you in meeting your compliance obligations.

How we're serving Canadians in their time of need

The CRA has a dedicated and highly skilled workforce committed to serving Canadians during their time of need. We are ensuring our efforts to sustain the tax system and many social programs it supports do not create undue burdens or financial hardship for Canadians as we work diligently to introduce measures to aid in the recovery of the economy. If you're struggling or dealing with financial hardship, it is important for you to know the following:

  • We understand that many Canadians have seen their financial situation be affected by COVID-19 and we want to focus on providing assistance to help resolve any acquired debts. We recognize that some Canadians may owe tax for the first time, may not know how to proceed and this could be stressful. Our staff will address pre-existing situations on a case-by-case basis.
  • We are sensitive to hardship cases. There are provisions that may be applied to provide relief on interest and penalties.
  • If you are unable to pay an existing debt in full, you may be eligible for payment arrangements. Payment arrangement options are being expanded to reflect current realities resulting from COVID-19.
  • If you're experiencing financial hardship due to collections actions, a CRA employee can help you via our toll free number at 1-888-863-8657 between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. EST.

If you have any questions we would be happy to help understanding how this impacts you and your business.
Stay Healthy
Greg Libbrecht and the team at Platinum Business Services