By Fin MacDonald, Fin Tax Service
Fin MacDonald has over 20 years’ experience providing retirement and Income tax planning advice. Readers are however cautioned that responsibility falls on the taxpayer to ensure that all information is adequate and correct.
Scammers still hard at work!!
I was awoken this morning by the CRA lawsuit threat scam phone call. The caller told me that if I did not buy a pre-paid VISA card for $5,000 and call them back with the number and PIN, I would be going to jail! Being a tax professional, I informed the individual of the criminal nature of his request.
How the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Enables Scammers
Over the last five years the CRA, let us hope not by design, has enabled scammers by:
· Closing all counter service at District Tax Service (sic) Offices
· Poorly training their telephone agents, and
· Reducing access for callers seeking information
In 2011, if you received a scammer’s call, you could go to the CRA office @ 1415 Vancouver Street and, after some waiting period, meet a CRA agent face-to-face and determine the legitimacy (or lack thereof) of the call. Or, you could call the CRA General Enquiries number and half the time you could reach an agent.
This Years’ Service (sic) Reductions
Just recently, the CRA has instituted the dreaded phone tree for callers to the General Enquiries phone line. We are all familiar with the phone tree; you push button one, then another one, then another one, and hopefully reach a human. My most recent attempt with the CRA began with the VOICE telling me they “are having intermittent technical difficulty.” I persisted and pressed six buttons; and was told my wait time would be 25 minutes.
Service Canada has a very similar phone tree for OAS, CPP and EI enquiries. BUT, with Service Canada, you have the option to go to their office at 1405 Douglas Street and speak face-to-face with an agent. Will the CRA backtrack on this latest slap to the collective Taxpayers’ face? Unlikely. Also, as of the day I am writing this (January 21), the CRA has not announced if/when there will be extended phone hours for tax season.
As announced last year, paper copies of Tax Forms and Guides will no longer be available at your local Postal Outlet. You will have to order them online or by phone.
Why all these changes? Simple, the CRA wants all taxpayers to do everything online.
· The E-file/Net-File season will open on Monday February 18 @ 5:30 am PST. This is one week earlier that last year, and will be welcomed by those with big refunds 😊. E-flie will be available for 2015-16-17 and 18 tax returns.
· The deadline for RRSP contributions to be made, to be deducted on your 2018 tax return, is February 28.
· Information slips, such as T4s from employers, OAS and CPP slips and T5 slips are due by February 28, T3 slips from trust and mutual funds are due by March 31. Partnership slips (T5008) are due by April 15.
· The tax filing deadline, and the date taxes are due, is April 30.
· Self-Employed taxpayers, and those with rental income (and their spouses), have until June 17 (because June 15 falls on a weekend) to file their tax returns – but any amount owing is due April 30.
· I will be making my annual Friday Forum presentation @ James Bay New Horizons on March 1 @ 10 am.
In the March issue of the Beacon I will update the phone service hours and review common income sources and deductions. As always dear readers, I look at taxes through my lens of Helping You to Keep More of YOUR Money.