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Published: March 20, 2020

Last Updated: February 21, 2022

Relationship of Tax Audit & Tax Collection – Tax Administration Analysis by Vancouver Tax Lawyer

Introduction Tax Audit vs Tax Collection

CRA’s tax auditors and tax collectors serve very different functions. Tax auditors from CRA gather information to determine whether your tax returns fully reflect your obligations under the Canadian Income Tax Act. CRA tax collectors take your tax debts as given and use every means they have available to collect money from taxpayers. Due to the difference in underlying mandate, tax auditors and tax collectors have different powers at their disposal. No matter whether you are dealing with CRA auditors or CRA tax collectors, our top Vancouver tax lawyers can help you deal with your CRA tax problems.

Tax Audits

The Canadian income tax system is based around self-assessment. Every taxpayer is required to file a tax return, and a tax assessment based on that income tax return is issued by CRA. Some tax returns are subjected to additional scrutiny in the form of a tax audit. An income tax audit could involve CRA tax auditors reviewing their existing files to check your return, or it could involve tax auditors showing up at your place of business to view your records. No matter what the scale of the tax audit is, the objective is to determine whether your tax return reflects your full obligations under the Canadian Income Tax Act. If it is determined that you did not meet your full income tax obligations, the CRA tax auditor will issue a tax reassessment requiring you to pay the tax liability that CRA says that you owe. Our Canadian tax lawyers frequently represent Canadian individual taxpayers or corporations who are undergoing tax audits of business or personal income.

Since the purpose of a tax audit is to gather the information to check whether a taxpayer’s tax return is accurate, the powers granted to CRA auditors under the Canadian Income Tax Act all deal with compelling taxpayers to provide CRA with information and documents. Section 231.1 of the Canadian Income Tax Act gives tax auditors the power to inspect a taxpayer’s books and records or examine property in the inventory of a taxpayer. The CRA is entitled to enter into any place where business is carried on in order to do this and does not require a warrant so long as they place they are entering is not a dwelling-house.

Tax Act section 231.2 allows CRA auditors to compel taxpayers to produce any documents or information that they have for any purpose related to the administration or enforcement of the Canadian Income Tax Act. If you need assistance dealing with a tax audit, please contact our top Calgary tax lawyers for tax help.

CRA Tax Collections

Once you have been issued a tax assessment or reassessment, you owe money to CRA. Even if you have been assessed taxes incorrectly, the tax debt will exist at law until the CRA or the tax court vacates the tax assessment. The tax collections department of the CRA takes the tax amount for which you were assessed as correct and owing, and uses the powers it is granted under the Income Tax Act to collect the full amount of all outstanding assessed tax amounts, including any interest or penalties. If you need help dealing with CRA tax collectors, please contact one of our best Edmonton tax lawyers.

The Canadian Income Tax Act gives CRA tax collectors a number of different powers to assist them in their mandate of collecting all outstanding tax debts, all without having to go to court. Section 224 of the Canadian Income Tax Act gives CRA tax collectors the power to garnish debts owed to a taxpayer with an outstanding tax debt. Debts owed to a taxpayer include money held in a bank account, wages owed to an employee, and receivables owed to a business by its customers. If you are being garnished and require assistance, please contact one of our top Canadian tax lawyers.

Section 225 of the Canadian Income Tax Act gives CRA tax collectors the power to seize goods owned by the taxpayer for sale at public auction to cover the outstanding tax debt. Prior to exercising this power, the CRA must give the taxpayer 30 days notice via registered mail addressed to the taxpayer’s last known address. If the taxpayer still has not paid after 30 days, the CRA may issue a certificate of failure and direct for the taxpayer’s goods to be seized. If you are receiving letters from CRA indicating that they may decide to seize your goods, you should immediately contact one of our experienced Vancouver tax lawyers.

For most tax debts arising under the administration of the Canadian Income Tax Act, the debt is not collectible for 90 days following the issuance of the assessment or reassessment that gave rise to the tax debt. This means that the CRA cannot exercise its tax collection powers until that 90 day period is over. This non-collectible period can be extended if you file a formal Notice of Objection to the tax assessment. If you have a tax issue it is essential to act quickly to avoid collection action being taken by CRA. If you have just received an income tax assessment from CRA and need help, please contact one of our top Canadian tax lawyers as soon as possible. Please note that tax debts arising from source deductions or GST/HST do not receive the 90 grace day period and are collectible immediately.

Conclusion -Tax Auditors and Tax Collectors

CRA tax auditors and tax collectors are given extensive powers to carry out their respective mandates. No matter whether you are receiving requests for documents from auditors or garnishment notices from collectors, our top Vancouver tax lawyers can help you deal with CRA.


"This article provides information of a general nature only. It is only current at the posting date. It is not updated and it may no longer be current. It does not provide legal advice nor can it or should it be relied upon. All tax situations are specific to their facts and will differ from the situations in the articles. If you have specific legal questions you should consult a lawyer."

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