Your notice of assessment is in the mail(box)

National Post

2015-02-21


Minister of National Revenue Kerry-Lynne Findlay officially marked the beginning of the 2014 tax filing season by attending a Family Day event in Vancouver on Feb. 9, announcing that online filing is now open and that you can get your tax refund “in as little as eight business days.”

Of course shortly after receiving that refund you should be on the look out for your 2014 notice of assessment, which will arrive by snail mail. It’s important to pay close attention to the mailing date printed on that notice because if you disagree with the way the Canada Revenue Agency has assessed your return, you may need to formally object by filing a “Notice of Objection” by the appropriate deadline.

For individuals, the deadline for filing an objection is one year from your normal filing due date (generally April 30) or 90 days after the date printed on the notice of assessment, whichever is later.

If you miss that deadline, all hope is not necessarily lost. You may still apply to the CRA within one year of the deadline for an extension of time to object. If the CRA denies your application, you can further appeal to the Tax Court to have the application granted.

A recent GST case involved a Quebec business that operates a seniors’ residence that missed its deadline to object to an assessment. The business claimed that it never received a notice of assessment, which was dated June 3, 2013, since it was mailed to the business but was missing the suite number of the business in the mailing address.

The business controller testified that she only learned of the June assessment on Sept. 16, 2013 from a telephone conversation with the Revenu Quebec auditor assigned to the file. Unfortunately, this telephone conversation took place after the 90-day deadline for objecting had already passed.

The business applied to the CRA for an extension of time to file an objection but was refused and thus found itself in Tax Court asking for an extension of time.

The issue in the case, therefore, was whether an assessment, mailed to the taxpayer’s address, but missing its suite number, was considered properly mailed.

The controller testified that the suite number was critical since the business is located in a complex with approximately 20 tenants. The office is on the 6th floor, but the mailbox, which is used for about 30 companies in the taxpayer’s corporate group, is located on the main floor with many other mailboxes. In addition, the mailbox does not bear the business’ name but rather the name of the group’s main company.

The Tax Court ruled that the suite number was essential to having the notice being correctly mailed and allowed the business’s application for an extension of time to file an objection.

Jenny Siu, a lawyer with Millar Kreklewetz LLP, a boutique law firm in Toronto that specializes in GST and customs matters, wrote a recent case commentary on the decision warning taxpayers to be on the look out for assessment notices.

She notes that while individuals can follow up on the status of assessments using the “My Account” service on the CRA website, businesses can’t access their corporate income tax or GST/HST notices online and need to contact the CRA directly to inquire about the status of missing assessments.