The Canadian Revenue Agency (the "CRA") is not always right. Our client may disagree with the amount he or she should pay for many reasons, some of which include:
The fair market value of your property;
The value of benefits Issues of timing;
The nature of an expense;
Questions of law (in other words, you and the CRA have different views of a piece of legislation)
When you disagree, there is an income tax dispute process in place to help resolve the disagreement. Success in using this process may depend on the client's evidence, client's arguments, and the laws involved. Early resolution is often best, since it often saves time and money all around. Settlement may be offered, particularly if the case is unique or unusual, and not likely to set a precedent for other taxpayers. Our goal is to help the client to find resolution.
Where you are in the process may determine what kind of help you need from us:
Audit stage: You may only need to clarify expenses or income, or provide better documentation.
First level of review: The Appeals Branch of the CRA, which deals with income tax, excise tax, GST, HST, CPP and EI assessments, has independent reviewers who will interpret the acts and policies of the CRA. You may also be asked to give more information or documentation.
Tax Court of Canada: This court has specialized judges and is dedicated to tax issues only.
Further appeals: Your case may reach as far as the Federal Court of Appeal or even the Supreme Court of Canada. Appeals rely heavily on legal arguments and less on evidence.
The right to appeal is not automatic. Part of our role involves advising you on your chances, then you can decide whether it's worth your time and money or whether you should consider a settlement or other relief.
While your case is being decided you generally do not have to pay the amount in dispute (unless its GST), but interest keeps accruing on the "tax debt".
We are often asked for help by accountants and financial planners, for the same reason. We can either give them advice and guidance or take over if the case is one that merits going to court.