THE Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is gradually resuming additional activities, and it may legitimately be it calling Canadians to discuss their tax and benefit situations. However, you should be aware of scammers pretending to be CRA employees. They often call Canadians to try to trick them into paying fake debts, and may even contact you by email, letter, or text message.
To protect yourself from scams, it’s important to know when and how the CRA might contact you. Here is some information on the CRA’s legitimate activities that are resuming and tips on how to recognize when the CRA is trying to contact you:
CRA activities resuming in September
Due to the Government’s ongoing efforts to support Canadians through the COVID-19 pandemic, the CRA suspended many collections and compliance activities and committed to resuming them in a thoughtful and phased manner, taking into consideration the health and safety of our employees and the needs of Canadian taxpayers. To this end, this September, the CRA will:
- Begin calling those who may owe in order to pursue payment arrangements.
- Reconnect with those who may owe to re-evaluate their financial situation, discuss payment options, and offer a payment arrangement where possible.
- Contact certain taxpayers to help them meet their tax obligations (e.g. CRA may offer to assist with tax return preparation or send letters to those who may lose benefits because they have not filed a tax return).
- Begin contacting clients if we need clarification or supporting documents related to their tax and benefit return.
The CRA aims to be completely transparent and proactive in identifying activities that are resuming. A complete overview of the timelines for the CRA’s return to business activities can be found online. This will be updated periodically as new information is available.
How CRA is serving Canadians in their time of need
The CRA has a dedicated and highly skilled workforce committed to serving Canadians during their time of need. It is ensuring its efforts to sustain the tax system and many social programs it supports do not create undue burdens or financial hardship for Canadians as it works diligently to introduce measures to aid in the recovery of the economy. If you’re struggling or dealing with financial hardship, it is important for you to know the following:
- It understands that many Canadians have seen their financial situation be affected by COVID-19 and it wants to focus on providing assistance to help resolve any acquired debts. Its staff will address pre-existing situations on a case-by-case basis.
- It is sensitive to hardship cases. There are provisions that may be applied to provide relief on interest and penalties.
- If you are unable to pay an existing debt in full, you may be eligible for payment arrangements. Payment arrangement options are being expanded to reflect current realities resulting from COVID-19.
- If you’re experiencing financial hardship due to collections actions, a CRA employee can help you via its toll free number at 1-888-863-8657 between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST.
Reasons the CRA may call
The CRA may call if it previously wrote to you, or in any of these situations:
- If you owe tax or money to a government program – a CRA employee may call you to discuss your file and payment options. Understanding that these are challenging times, the officer will discuss payment options and may be able to offer a payment arrangement.
- In this case, you may need to provide some information about your financial situation, but you can make sure the caller is a CRA employee first by following the steps described below.
- If you did not file your income tax and benefit return.
- If you did not file your GST/HST return.
- If it needs clarification or supporting documents related to your tax and benefit return.
- If you own a small business, it may call to offer free tax help through our Liaison Officer program.
- If it has questions about your new business registration.
- If it has questions about a review of your corporate return or non-corporate return (e.g. trusts).
- If you filed a claim for the Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED) or Film and Media Tax Credits (FMTC) investment tax credits.
- If it has questions about an objection or appeal that you filed.
- If it has questions about your application for relief of penalties and interest.
Make sure the caller is a CRA employee and not a scammer
Legitimate CRA employees who contact Canadians will identify themselves as CRA agents and provide their name and a telephone number. You can make sure the caller is a CRA employee before providing any information on the phone. This will protect you from giving money or personal information to a scammer. This is how you can make sure the caller is from the CRA:
- Tell the caller you would like to first verify their identity
- Ask for, and make a note of, their:
- phone number
- office location
- Check that the call you received was legitimate by contacting the CRA at the number that applies to your situation. Common phone numbers are:
- 1-800-959-8281 for the Individual Income Tax enquiries line
- 1-800-959-5525 for the Business enquiries line
- 1-888-863-8657 for individual debts
- 1-877-477-5068 for GST/HST debts
- 1-877-548-6016 for payroll debts
- 1-866-291-6346 for corporation debts
- 1-866-864-5823 if the call you received was about a government program such as employment insurance or Canada Student Loan debts
Double check the status of your tax account and make sure the CRA has your current address and email
- Use one of our secure digital services to confirm:
- if your personal information is up to date
- if you have a balance owing
- Call 1-866-474-8272. This automated CRA phone service gives you information about your tax account balance, and your last payment amount and date. To use this service, be ready to provide your social insurance number, date of birth, and the total income you entered on line 15000 of your 2019 return or line 150 of your 2018 tax return.
- Call 1-866-864-5823. This phone service allows you to update your address or contact information for government programs you owe money to.
When in doubt, ask yourself
- Am I sure the caller works for the CRA?
- Why is the caller pressuring me to act now?
- Is the caller asking me to pay with gift cards, cryptocurrency or some other unusual manner?
- Did I file my tax return on time? Have I received, either in the mail from the CRA or via My Account, a notice saying I owe taxes?
- Have I received an email or letter from the CRA about the subject of the call?
- Does the CRA have my most recent contact information, such as my email and home address?
- Is the caller asking for information I would not include on my tax return or that is not related to money I owe the CRA, such as a credit card number?
- Did I recently send a request to change information about my business number?
- Do I have an instalment payment due?
- Have I received a statement of account for funds owing to a government program?
- Is the caller recommending I apply for benefits? Canadians can apply for benefits directly on Government of Canada websites or by phone. Do not provide information to callers offering to apply for benefits on your behalf.
For more information, visit canada.ca/taxes-fraud-prevention.
Want to report a potential scam?
To report a scam, visit antifraudcentre.ca or call 1-888-495-8501. If you think you may be the victim of fraud or you unknowingly provided personal or financial information, contact your local police service, financial institution, and credit reporting agencies.
Anyone who suspects they have been the victim of fraud or have been tricked into providing personal or financial information should report it by following CRA’s directive on the Government of Canada web site at canada.ca/taxes-fraud-prevention.