with the activities of its charities section having been so thoroughly politicized by the Harper government, we can no longer call the CRA an effective instrument of public policy. Its campaign of vexatious audits of the political activities of progressive charities represents has created a chill in political dissent, and is a new low even for the Conservative regime.
Not terrorists, white-collar crooks, or climate change -- it seems the real threat to Canadian society hides behind a much friendlier face: charities. Or to be more specific, charities critical of the Canadian government. This week it was made public that the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) is auditing PEN Canada for its "political activities." In 2012, the Canadian government earmarked $8 million of the CRA's budget for auditing political activities, and then upped that amount again to $13 million. In a time of austerity, there is still a plenty of money to go after enemies of our federal government.
The CCF assisted a taxpayer named Irvin Leroux in getting a decision from the B.C. Supreme Court, holding that Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) owed him a duty of care and breached its duty towards him. This was a precedent-setting ruling: never before had the CRA been told by any court that it had a duty towards individual taxpayers to treat them with care, and not to be negligent towards them.
Of all the milestones in your life, filing your first income tax return probably isn't the one you look forward to most. It's no wonder. But since it can't legally be avoided, being prepared for the experience and understanding what you're getting into can make your first time with the Canada Revenue Agency less intimidating.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) shuttered its local inquiry and payment desks last October. The agency has abandoned the practice of mailing hard-copy tax return packages except by specific request. The Telefile system, which allowed Canadians with simple returns to enter their data over the telephone, no longer exists. In case you haven't gotten the hint, the CRA wants to deal with you online.
So you filed your income tax return with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) well in advance of the April 30 deadline. Everything went without a hitch and you have a refund cheque in your hands, or directly deposited in your bank account. Free and clear until next year, right? Not quite. In fact, the tax return process has just begun at this point. It's not over until the CRA has finished its slip-matching program during the next few months.
No matter how many politicians in Ottawa may prefer to settle cases, the hired guns at the Department of Justice don't seem to have been copied on that memo. Their mandate is to litigate, and their client -- the CRA -- has infinitely deep pockets. So there is no reason to settle, and no reason to refrain from motions and appeals, regardless of how many lawyer-hours are spent.
No politician or citizen stands above the law, and each citizen must pay income taxes. When the lawmakers fail to follow their own regulations, citizens should demand better. In order to take parliamentary suggestions and regulations on tax avoidance and evasion seriously, citizens should feel confident that their MPs, first and foremost, are following the rules.