Taxpayer’s Rights and Responsibilities in a CRA Audit

Audits are essential to the Canada Revenue Agency’s range of activities to ensure the tax system is fair to all. The CRA thoroughly examines your books and records during an audit. They want to verify whether you follow tax laws correctly, pay the correct taxes, and receive proper entitlements. However, knowing your rights and responsibilities would be best if your file was chosen for an audit.

What are your rights?

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights encodes your relationship with the CRA as a taxpayer. These 16 rights ensure you receive accurate, professional, courteous, and fair service.

Under the bill, you have the right to file a complaint if you are unhappy with the service you receive from the CRA. You have rights to the following:

1. Receive benefits and entitlements and pay only what is legally required
2. Service in both official languages
3. Privacy and confidentiality
4. Formal review and a subsequent appeal
5. Professional, courteous, and fair treatment
6. Complete, accurate, clear, and timely information
7. Not to pay disputed income tax amounts before you have had an impartial review unless otherwise legally provided
8. Have the law consistently applied
9. Lodge a service complaint and be provided with an explanation of our findings
10. Have compliance costs considered when administering tax legislation
11. Expect accountability
12. Mitigation of penalties and interest under tax laws due to extraordinary circumstances
13. Expect publication of service standards and annual reports
14. Expect warnings about questionable tax schemes on time
15. Be represented by your chosen individual
16. File a complaint and ask for a formal review of the CRA service without fear of reprisal

The Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson oversees half of these rights. These include 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, and 15.

Additionally, Section 12 of Canada’s Privacy Act provides you with the right to access and request correction of personal information. You can also file a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada regarding the CRA’s handling of your personal information.

What are your responsibilities?

By law, you must keep adequate books and records to determine your tax obligations and entitlements. Generally, books and documents must be kept for at least six years.

Suppose you digitize your accounting records. In that case, you must keep them in an electronically readable format, even if you keep hard copies.

You should also know that hiring a tax professional does not absolve you of any wrongdoing. Anything you submit to the CRA is your responsibility. You cannot shift the blame on your tax preparer.

For an audit, you must make all relevant records and supporting documents available to the auditor. Failing to provide these is an offence under the law. You must also respond completely and promptly to all questions.

How long does an audit take?

The time it takes to do an audit depends on several factors, including the following:

State of your records
Audit scope
Missing records
Consultation with other CRA tax specialists

Good records and cooperation with the auditor will minimize the time it takes to complete an audit. It can take longer than necessary if you cannot produce the requested records.

Suppose you no longer have the records requested. In that case, you must obtain copies from the relevant parties, such as your suppliers or bank. If that is not possible, you can consult the auditor or the auditor’s team leader. They will help you find ways to verify the amounts reported on your return.

Find Competent CRA Audit Assistance in Canada

It’s crucial to have CRA audit assistance to represent you and help navigate the process during a CRA tax audit. Your rights protect you from unfair treatment, but you also have the responsibility to comply with the law.

An accountant provides critical help in responding to CRA inquiries, organizing financial records, and ensuring the accuracy and compliance with tax laws of information presented. Perhaps most importantly, they prevent you from saying or doing anything that worsens your situation with the CRA.

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