Ensure Clients Register Tax Disputes on Time

Advisor's Edge

2012-09-21


If your clients disagree with their CRA Notices of Assessment, they have the right to formally object. This is done by filing a Notice of Objection, which must be in writing and clearly set out the reasons they’re objecting.

It’s important, however, to remind clients to pay careful attention to the filing deadline for submitting such an objection, which is one year from their normal filing due date (generally April 30) or 90 days after the date printed on the Notice of Assessment, whichever is later.

Let’s say your client filed his 2010 personal income tax return late, on May 15, 2012, and the CRA sent his Notice of Assessment with a mailing date of June 29, 2012. He would have until the later of 90 days after June 29, 2012 (i.e. September 27, 2012) and one year from his April 30, 2011 filing deadline, which would have been April 30, 2012.

In this case, his deadline would be September 27, 2012.

Missed deadlines
If he misses the above deadline, he can apply to CRA for an extension of time to object to an assessment.

His application must set out the reasons he didn’t object before the deadline and must be addressed to the Chief of Appeals in a District Office or Taxation Centre.

In addition, the taxpayer must demonstrate that he was unable to object, have someone else act for him or have a “bona fide intention to object.” This extension can only be granted, however, if he applies within one year of the time limit for objecting. Given the rule that objections can be made by the later of one year from the normal filing due date or 90 days after the date printed on the Notice of Assessment, an extension can be sought for one year and 90 days.

Continuing from the example above, he would be able to object to his 2010 late-filed tax return until September 27, 2013.

A real case
A recent case (Hewstan v The Queen, 2012 TCC 292) shows how important it is to object within these deadlines. Janice Hewstan appeared before the Tax Court in June 2012 to apply for an extension to file her notice of objection for an assessment she received. Hewstan acknowledged she did not meet the filing deadlines.

In her case, the 90-day deadline expired on September 9, 2009 and no notice of objection was filed by that date. The further one-year time limit would have taken Hewstan to September 9, 2010, which is the deadline she had to bring an application to extend the initial 90 days.

Since she applied for an extension in February 2012, the judge wrote, “Clearly we are out of time in respect of the 90-day time limit and the one-year time limit.”

As the judge summarized, “We are well beyond the time limits that are set out in the Act. Those statutory provisions do not give the Court much leeway in terms of extending those for taxpayers. I have no jurisdiction to grant leave for an extension of time unless it comes within the confines and the parameters of those sections, and clearly that has not occurred in this case. We are well outside the time limits.”

This serves as an important reminder to ensure clients keep abreast of all tax filing deadlines.