News Article

Natural disaster relief available for tax filers

Posted: May 16, 2017
Posted in: Breaking News

CRA is providing relief for taxpayers across the country, and particularly in Quebec and Ontario, whose tax filings were interrupted by severe flooding over the past few weeks. 

Similarly, the devastating wildfire in the Fort McMurray area, which forced over 80,000 people from their homes and destroyed more than 2,400 buildings, continues to affect taxpayers. In these kinds of natural disasters, saving lives and minimizing property damage is, of course, the number-one priority. The CRA understands that, too, and is reminding taxpayers that there is relief on the tax front when natural disasters strike. The CRA understands that, too, and is reminding taxpayers that there is relief on the tax front when natural disasters strike.

Tax advisors have an important role to play in helping victims in these cases. They can certainly help any individuals, businesses, or first responders unable to file or pay taxes on time in these circumstances with their request for taxpayer relief and in properly completing Form RC4288, Request for Taxpayer ReliefDo-it-yourselfers can also call the CRA or by calling 1-800-959-8281 for individual enquiries, or 1-800-959-5525 for business enquiries.

The CRA will consider such applications on a case-by-case basis and may grant relief in the following ways:

  • Canceling or waiving penalties or interest accruing on late tax remittances or late filing of a return
  • Allowing the taxpayer to file late, amended or revoked elections for alternative tax treatments
  • Extending the normal three-year period in which individuals and testamentary trusts are permitted to file an income tax return to claim a tax refund or to request an adjustment to an assessment issued for a previous tax year

If a natural disaster has not only prevented you from filing taxes on time, but also destroyed the documentation necessary to prepare a tax return, there may be some relief for that situation, too. In such cases, taxpayers would normally have to estimate their income and all other figures, but now CRA offers a convenient service to help: Auto-fill my return.

In fact, the CRA has the necessary information in T4 and T5 slips, pension and benefits statements, RRSP contribution receipts, and many other documents that are filed electronically with them by employers, other government departments and financial institutions, all of which can be accessed to populate parts of your tax return via NETFILE-certified software.

Our hearts go out to anyone affected by a natural disaster. It’s comforting to know that the CRA has made provisions for you to take one worry off your mind while your primary concern is for your family, your home and your community. Your financial advisory community is there to help, too.

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