By Heino Molls

What is Canada’s worst profession? What job title conjures up the worst image of a person for you? A few spring to mind right away such as bill collectors or customs officers. Few people seem to like the folks who do those jobs. The one that most often comes to mind for most people, however, is government revenue official or tax man. More specifically, Canada Revenue agent.

No other job is thought of with more disdain and misery than that of a CRA representative. Who can blame those feelings? Especially from those who are entrepreneurs. If you are in business for yourself, you may rightfully feel like the primary prey of the dreaded CRA as it casts a shadow over your door.

The CRA is a major bully in the life of the small business person and like all bullies, you never want to make them mad. If they come to see you, you better be nice and say yes sir and no sir or yes ma’am or no ma’am. You better scrape and bow to the best of your ability because if they get angry at you, they will attack you. Never ever speak harshly to a CRA agent. They’ll make you sorry you ever did. And if you think of getting a lawyer to represent you in a dispute with the CRA, you’re just asking for trouble because unless you have Perry Mason or John A. MacDonald on your case, the CRA will come after you harder than you could ever imagine.

As we have seen and read in many cases across the country, the CRA can be relentless in its pursuit of taxpayers who rub them the wrong way, regardless of their guilt or non-guilt. The CRA can be very mean. It is maddening to see innocent small businesses squashed, yet corrupt major corporations seemingly rip off taxpayers with what appear to be gifts from government coffers and get complete passes on CRA scrutiny in their dealings as they build profits yet pay few taxes.

How often have we heard about accountants and bookkeepers who demonstrate CRA incompetence every tax season by sending in 10 income tax returns that are exactly the same to 10 different CRA agents, and get 10 different responses? How often have we read about how ruthless the CRA can be to small business people who may have never done anything wrong except question an assessment from the CRA? Until you have seen and heard the indignation of a CRA agent’s self-righteous claims, you have not seen complete and total disfigurement of the official languages of English, French and First Nations.

No other business people that I know of are more vulnerable to the CRA than real estate brokers and sales representatives. If I could wish for anything for everyone in the real estate business it would be a department or a place to turn to for help in dealing with these scoundrels. I believe that salespeople across Canada need a paladin or a champion who is ready to take their cause and help them sort through the sea of vicious complexities the CRA can and will throw at the most innocent person whenever and however they wish.

Did you know that the law of this land is on the side of the accused in all cases except one? You are presumed not guilty of any charge in this country, until you are found guilty in a court of law, with one exception: The Income Tax Act. If the CRA declares you are guilty of not filling out the proper forms or not paying the correct taxes, then you are guilty and you must take action to prove your innocence.

If it was up to me, and we all know it is not, I would get the best legal minds and yes, the best lawyers in the whole world and I would create an entire department to fight for all Canadian salespeople when the CRA comes knocking. Bullies indeed.

Heino Molls has been the Publisher of REM, Real Estate Magazine (formerly Real Estate Marketing), since 1989. Previous to REM, he worked as an executive at the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), and at the Toronto Star. Contact Heino by email or call 416-425-3504 x2.


  1. I must say that I find this article a little ironic. I would honestly have to say that if I was asked to: choose between the real estate practitioners whom I’ve dealt with over the years and those I’ve ever interacted with at Revenue Canada, in terms of which comported themselves more professionally, on the whole – Revenue Canada would be an easy winner.

    The worst profession in Canada, would be a profession that really isn’t a profession, but it should be because the pertinent stakes are usually very high. The worst profession in Canada would be a profession that’s never really emphasized any “product knowledge” although “product knowledge” should always have been a fundamental component. The worst profession in Canada would probably allow members to practice in large numbers, knowing that if said members really have much to offer, they probably acquired it from a pertinent but different industry. The worst profession in Canada would probably lack the kind of leadership required, to make it truly relevant!

    • Alan
      Your last two sentences say it all.
      I wonder if the Rev. Can. bureaucrat who yanked my chain is a slick former used Lada car salesman turned failed wannabe professional (but nevertheless incompetent) out’a-the-gate Realtor?
      The Confused Pie-Eyed Philosopher.

  2. Here is my recent (ongoing) experience with Revenue Canada bureaucrats.
    I have been retired from real estate for over three years at this writing, having never experienced a problem with Rev. Can…until now. My tax returns have always been completed by my accountant; my taxes have always been paid up.
    During December 2014, just prior to Christmas (the 23rd) I received a letter from Rev. Can. It stated that I had not filed my 2009 and 2011 GST returns, and that I owed north of $5,100. including accrued interest and penalties. Payment was due upon receipt in order to avoid incurring additional penalties, interest charges and/or legal proceedings. My blood immediately began to boil. I called my accountant. “What the hell is wrong with them; why didn’t they contact you about this during 2010 and 2012 if what they are claiming is true?” he exclaimed. He said he would check his records.
    I called Rev. Can. and spoke to an agent (Alan). I blasted Rev. Can., being careful not to blame Alan personally. I asked Alan where ‘they’ came up with the $5,100. plus figure. “Oh, they just come up with an arbitrary figure and send it out.” he said. “You’ve got to be kidding me!’ I replied. “Nope.” he replied. “So some nameless, faceless key-punching bureaucrat gets to make up some figure, add on interest charges and penalties to that arbitrary figure, and then officially threaten me with all kinds of penalties and legal action just to get my attention, I assume?.” I asked. “Yup.” he replied. “I hope that this call is being recorded (I knew that it was being recorded) because I am not paying Rev. Can one red cent!” I responded. “I will go to jail before they get any of my money. Why the hell did they wait so long to contact me, letting interest charges and penalties pile up against me without notifying me to give me a chance to address this mess?” I asked. “I don’t know.” Alan replied.
    Alan said that he would look into my file while I waited on the line, which he did. He came back on line saying that yes, I had not filed my GST return for 2009 and 2011, but that everything else was in order before and after those particular years. He agreed that the amount being claimed was very excessive. I told Alan that I would get in touch with my accountant to sort this ridiculous situation all out; that there was no way that I owed Rev. Can that kind of money because I was winding my business dealings down at the time in preparation for retirement.
    My accountant got back to me and said that he might have forgotten to file my GST return for those two years, but regardless, that what I owed amounted to only about $250.00. He resubmitted the returns and told me to wait about five to six weeks for a reply from Rev. Can.
    I called Rev. Can. and got another agent, who I regaled with my story. I told her that as far as my accountant was concerned I owed only about $250.00, and further that I would not be paying any accrued interest charges nor penalties above and beyond the $250. due to Rev. Can.’s own incompetence regarding their one hand not knowing what the other hand was doing internally. I also advised her that if I had any trouble with Rev. Can. I would take this story to the media. I am still waiting for an official reply from Rev. Can.
    Stay tuned.

    • Follow up
      I just received a reply from Rev. Can. It was a re-assessment. Instead of owing north of $5,100.00 I now am required to pay $532.00, including accrued interest and a late filing penalty. I will not be paying the accrued interest charges nor the late filing penalty.
      I will be meeting with my accountant this afternoon to discuss this latest Rev. Can. demand. He will be advised as to what my intentions are regarding continuing to rebuff Rev. Can.’s demand for penalty monies over and above what I legitimately owe.
      I will be calling Rev. Can on Monday next (March 9, 2015) and I will advise whomever I get on the phone that I will be paying the outstanding amount owed only, and not the additional penalizing charges added on by some Rev. Can. bureaucrat due to the incompetence of Rev. Can. regarding never contacting me up to ‘four years ago’ to inform me that my HST returns had not been filed, thus penalizing me from being given the opportunity to pay what I legitimately owed forthwith. I was unaware that those two returns had not been filed because my accountant looks after my returns.
      I will include a letter with my reduced payment explaining why I will not be held financially responsible for Rev. Can.’s own oversights. I will c.c. the Rev. Can. Commissioner and the Federal Minister responsible for Rev. Can. I will also contact CBC national news and CTV national news with this story, seeing as how both networks have recently been highlighting Rev. Can. incompetence and bullying tactics
      it’s not so much about the money as it is about the principle. It is ‘my’ money that we are talking about, not Rev. Can.’s money.
      I wonder how many people in my situation would have paid the $5,100.00 plus originally demanded by Rev. Can. out of fear of reprisals by the tax bullies?
      People: unlike we-the-people who do something ‘positive’ to earn our dollars by way of providing services or production of products, Rev. Can. bureaucrats produce nothing of productive value, but they do produce often undeserved fear amongst the vast majority of law-abiding tax-paying citizens, and ‘we’ pay them to do that to us.
      Rev. Can. is simply an agency of the Government of Canada legislated into existence to do the government’s dirty work, being, to take our money away from us, to be redistributed as governments see fit…for future votes. It’s quite a game, and we all agree, by being Canadian citizens, to play that game. However, no one should knuckle under to heavy-handed bureaucrats’ arbitrary demands of immediate payments of excessive monies owed, backed by written threats of legal action as was tried on me. Rev. Can. will get its legitimate $250. (plus or minus a few dollars) out of me, and not one red cent more. Rev. free to take me to court for their version of arrears and late filing penalty.

  3. Agree 100%, have been in their sights a few times and it is not pleasant. I bet revcan is the only place most people dread seeing a letter or call from. Can’t sign a name in case they recognize me and come charging again.

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