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.