What is the Statute of Limitations on CRA Debt?
The statute of limitations or limitation period on Canada Revenue Agency debt is anywhere between 6 to 10 years and it depends on the type of debt that is owing.
What is a Collections Limitation Period?
A collections limitation period is the time in which the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) can begin actions to collect a tax debt. According to subsection 221(3) of the Income Tax Act, the CRA may not commence or continue to collect a tax debt after the end of the limitations period.
What is the Length of the Collections Limitation Period?
Different types of debt are treated different by the CRA. The length of the limitation period depends on the type of debt and is as follows:
- Individual – 10 years;
- Corporation – 10 years;
- Payroll- 6 years; or
- GST/ HST – 6 years.
When does the Limitation Period Start?
The date that the limitation period starts also depends on the type of debt:
- Individual – 91 days after a Notice of Assessment or Notice of Reassessment is issued;
- Corporation – 91 days after a Notice of Assessment or Notice of Reassessment is issued;
- Payroll – the day after a Notice of Assessment is issued; or
- GST/ HST – the day after a Notice of Assessment is issued.
Restarting the Collections Limitation Period
The limitation period is restarted when either you or the CRA takes certain actions. The following is a non-exhaustive list of actions that will restart the collections limitation period:
The collections limitation period will restart when you:
- Make a voluntary payment;
- Write a letter to the CRA proposing a payment arrangement;
- Offer to provide security instead of paying the amount owed;
- Make a written request for a reassessment of an amount assessed;
- File a Notice of Objection with the CRA;
- File an appeal with the Tax Court of Canada; or
- Ask the CRA if you can make pre-authorized debt payments.
The CRA takes various actions to collect tax debts when taxpayers don’t make voluntary payments. The collections limitation period will restart when the CRA:
- Issues a garnishment or statutory set-off to collect an outstanding tax debt;
- Applies a refundable credit to your tax debt and notifies you by sending you a letter or statement of account;
- Issues a Notice of Assessment or Reassessment against a third party for amounts you owe;
- Certifies your tax debt in the Federal Court of Canada; or
- Initiates seizure and sale action to collect your outstanding tax debt
Extension of the Collections Limitation Period
There are events that can extend the limitation period. When these events happens, the clock stops running on the date that the event begins and it will not run during the event. When the event is completed, the collections limitation period resumes where it left off.
The following events can extend the collections limitation period:
- You file an assignment (bankruptcy or proposal) under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, Farm Debt Mediation Act, or Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act;
- The CRA accepts security instead of payment of a tax debt;
- You become a non-resident of Canada after the CRA issues a Notice of Assessment or Reassessment;
- The CRA postpones collection action without accepting security for an objected or appealed GST/HST debt. This applies only to GST/HST tax debts assessed under the Excise Tax Act;
- You file a Notice of Objection with the CRA. This will not apply to payroll or GST/HST debts; or
- You file an appeal with the Tax Court of Canada.
Whether or not the collections limitation period has expired can mean the difference between having to pay back a debt in full, and not having to pay it back at all. If you have a very old tax debt, or if you have a tax debt at all and need assistance with it, contact our firm today for a free consultation. We are here to help!
This article provides information of a general nature only. It does not provide legal advice nor can it or should it be relied upon. All tax situations are specific to their facts and will differ from the situations in this article. If you have specific legal questions you should consult a lawyer.