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Canada Canada Revenue Agency

Is the CRA really contacting you?

From the Canada Revenue Agency

Now that you’ve filed your 2020 income tax and benefit return, it’s possible that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) contacts you to discuss your tax and benefit situation. However, you should be aware of scammers pretending to be CRA employees. They often contact Canadians to try to trick them into making payments, and may try to reach you by telephone. To protect yourself from scams, it’s important to know when and how the CRA might contact you.

Here is some information on how to tell if you’ve been contacted by the CRA, and what to do if you are:

We may review your tax return 

One reason we may contact you is if we are reviewing your income tax and benefit return. You may receive a letter or phone call telling you your income tax and benefit return is being reviewed. If you’re registered for email notifications, we will send you an email telling you your letter is available in My Account. In most cases it’s simply a routine check. It’s important that you reply and send all of the information requested as soon as possible. This will help us review your file quickly and easily.

If you can’t get the documents we’re asking for or if you need more time to reply, it’s important that you call the number in your letter. We can give you more time to respond if you need it, and we can help you if you have any questions. If you don’t reply, your claim may be disallowed and you could have a balance owing.

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 should 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:

  1. Tell the caller you would like to first verify their identity
  2. Ask for, and make a note of their:
    • name
    • phone number
    • office location
  3. Check that the call you received was legitimate by contacting the CRA at the number that you look up yourself on the CRA website before you provide any information to the caller. 
  4. Call the CRA employee back to discuss the reason for the call.

When to be suspicious

Red flags that suggest the person contacting you is a scammer include (but are not limited to):

  • The inability to provide you with proof of working for the CRA, such as name and an office location.
  • The caller is pressuring you to act now.
  • The caller is asking you to pay with gift cards, cryptocurrency or some other unusual manner.
  • The caller is asking for information you would not include on your tax return or that is not related to money you owe the CRA, such as a credit card number.
  • The caller is recommending that you 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 tips and helpful 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 the CRA’s directive on the Government of Canada website at canada.ca/taxes-fraud-prevention.

Categories
Canada Canada Revenue Agency

CRA – Tax Schemes Alert

Beware of schemes that promise large tax deductions or tax-free income. – Original alert from the CRA

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is advising Canadians to steer clear of tax schemes this tax season.

What are tax schemes?

Tax schemes are plans and arrangements that try to deceive taxpayers by promising to reduce the tax they owe, for example, through large deductions, increased rebates or promises of tax-free income. Tax schemes can include illegitimate ways of convincing people to pay less tax or to increase their claims for credits and benefits.

Be careful. Here are some common elements of tax schemes:

They deduct a promoter’s fee from an anticipated tax refund

They are positioned as financial products or business opportunities

They may be advertised (on the web, or in social media, newspapers or fliers sent to households)

There is often a sales pitch (free information session, paid seminar, webinars)

They promise tax savings, and often include large returns on small investments

A good rule of thumb: If something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.

Consequences of participating in a scheme

As a participant in a tax scheme, you could be assessed penalties and interest in addition to repaying any amount you wrongly received.

Individuals who are involved with the promotion or preparation of inaccurate or false tax returns may be subject to third-party penalties, as well as criminal prosecution if the activities undertaken constitute tax evasion.

If a promoter or a participant is convicted of tax evasion, they must pay the full amount of tax owing, plus any interest and any civil penalties assessed by the CRA. In addition, the courts may order fines  up to 200% of the taxes evaded and impose a jail term of up to five years. The CRA shares information about individuals, corporations and trusts convicted of tax evasion. For additional information, please refer to the following pages: The CRA’s criminal investigations process and Enforcement notifications.

What can you do to protect yourself and other taxpayers from tax schemes?

Get professional, independent advice when needed, especially if a deal seems too good to be true

If in doubt, get a second opinion before claiming an amount on your income tax and benefit return

If you participated willingly in a scheme, come to us to correct your tax affairs through our Voluntary Disclosures Program, before we come to you

Help ensure tax fairness for all Canadians by reporting a lead to the CRA

For more information on tax schemes, please visit canada.ca/tax-schemes.

Contacts

For general inquiries:
Canada Revenue Agency
1-800-959-8281

For reporters:
Media Relations
Canada Revenue Agency
613-948-8366
cra-arc.media@cra-arc.gc.ca