The summer of 2018, the CRA sent me a letter of assessment for my son’s school fees. These kind of assessments happen often. While I am slightly freaked out by them, it is still not a big deal. The letter asked for all associated documentation supporting my medical claim for my son’s school fees.
I dutifully collected all the receipts for the School and for my son’s Occupational Therapist. I wrote a cover letter outlining what I was sending and I sent it via registered mail to the CRA.
In that previous paragraph I made two mistakes (one small and one critical error):
- I could have easily scanned all the receipts and submitted them to the CRA on line. Much faster, and less expensive. Hopefully I will remember that for the next time.
- The letter asked for all associated documentation, and I misinterpreted that to mean receipts, and that caused a big problem.
For those unaware, if your child is disabled you can claim their schooling or training as a medical expense. You must have a DTC first, and then ask permission of the CRA to be able to make that claim on your taxes. This is where my blunder took place.
My son had changed schools a while back, and I had never done a new letter outlining how his new school would help him with his disability (Autism Spectrum). Without this letter, and supporting documentation from his Doctor and other medical professionals, the CRA had every right to deny this claim on my taxes. As I did not include any supporting documentation with my assessment, the CRA denied my claim, and sent me a bill for what I owed.
The CRA was in the right to do this, and I was in the wrong for not sending it. I want to be clear on this point, I am not casting any shade on the CRA, they have actually been very helpful in this case.
It took a while, but I finally received my Assessment response via email, and I was shocked and upset to see the results(an over $4000 tax bill). After reading the email a few times, my wife read it and pointed out my mistake. She realized that I had not sent a new package outlining how the new school helped my son. I believe I sputtered and swore, but then came to the epiphany that my wife was right.
The past few weeks I have spent collecting the needed data and letters to support my claim for my son’s school expenses, and submitted them (electronically) to the CRA.
As the date of when I was supposed to pay my new tax bill came closer, I realized my reassessment was not going to be completed in time. Again, this was due to my procrastination, not the CRA inaction. I decided to call the CRA, and they directed me to their collections group.
When I spoke to the collections person, he brought up my file, I explained that I had submitted the needed documentation, and they decided to give me a 90-day extension on my due payment. This means I won’t have to fork out $4000 at Christmas time.
There is no guarantee that the CRA will accept my claim and documentation. Given the amount of supporting documentation I am hopeful that this is sufficient, but at least I won’t have to pay out a large sum of money now (that might be refunded later).
As I have said previously, if you don’t ask the answer is always no. I asked the CRA for clarification on what they needed, they provided that to me. The CRA also granted me an extension on payment, because I asked, and had a good set of reasons.
Sometimes the CRA screws up, but in this case, they are actually the heroes in this story (so far).
“I believe I sputtered and swore, but then came to the epiphany that my wife was right.”
Seriously needs to be a T-shirt!!!
Great post. The CRA often does makes mistakes and provide incorrect information, which has been well documented in the news, but I’m glad to hear they got it right for you (so far, as you say). Generally they tend to get it right after several attempts..
I think the folks you deal with are over-worked and under-appreciated folk. Their management and masters in the government I loath but the frontline folks deserve your patience (I think).
At the end of the day the people working at the CRA are no different from most people doing their job. They understand sometimes things aren’t going quite right and they might cut you some slack – most of the time they’ll be decent if you’re not combative and not trying to screw the system.
Which reminds me…. I have some taxes to look at. Hope the assessment goes in your favour.
I haven’t had any big issues with the CRA (aside from the tax rates being too high (IMHO)), I have heard of a few folks who have had issues, but I have always found the folks I have spoken to helpful and considerate.