Who can apply

When events beyond your control prevent you from meeting your tax obligations, cancelling or waiving penalties and interest may be possible.

You may request relief of penalties and interest. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will consider all requests. While this page lists certain criteria, meeting them does not guarantee that relief will be granted.

Situations when relief may be possible

To apply to have penalties and interest cancelled or waived, you need to explain why you are asking for this relief. The following are common situations:

Extraordinary circumstances

Extraordinary circumstances may include, but are not limited to, the following examples:

  • natural or human-made disasters, such as a flood or fire
  • civil disturbances or disruptions in services, such as a postal strike
  • serious illness or accident
  • serious emotional or mental distress, such as death in the immediate family

Extraordinary circumstances experienced by an authorized representative or third party:

  • Your authorized representative or third party experienced an extraordinary circumstance, such as described above, that prevented you from meeting your tax obligations.

Note: When an adverse event has prevented a large number of taxpayers from meeting their tax obligations, we may issue a news release to announce that we may give special consideration to providing relief. In such cases, taxpayers need to make a request to get relief. CRA news releases on adverse events that qualify for relief can be found at News releases.

Video: Taxpayer Relief

Financial hardship

When we have confirmed that you are not able to pay what you owe, we may waive or cancel interest in whole or in part to allow you to pay your debt. For example, this may occur when:

  • you cannot pay due to financial hardship
  • interest charges make up a major amount of what is due and you are unable to make a reasonable payment arrangement
  • for individuals, paying the interest would make it difficult to provide basic necessities, such as food, medical care, transportation, or shelter for a prolonged period
  • for businesses, paying the interest would jeopardize the continuity of business operations, employees' jobs, and the welfare of the community as a whole
Actions of the CRA

The CRA may cancel or waive penalties and interest when they result from CRA actions, including:

  • processing delays that result in you not being informed within a reasonable time, that an amount was owing
  • errors in CRA materials which led you to file a return or make a payment based on incorrect information
  • incorrect information provided to you by the CRA
  • errors in processing
  • delays in providing information, resulting in you not being able to meet your tax obligations on time
  • undue delays in resolving an objection or an appeal, or in completing an audit
Other circumstances

The CRA may also grant relief if your circumstances do not fall within the situations described above.

If you send us a request for relief, we will review it and determine if we can grant relief due to your circumstances.

Reminder: Make sure to send any information and documents that you feel support your request.

Third party errors or delays

You are generally considered to be responsible for errors or delays made by your representative or third party. However, there may be exceptional situations where we may consider granting relief because of errors made or delays caused by your representative or a third party acting for you for tax related matters.

Penalties and interest from the past 10 years

For penalties, the CRA will consider a request only if it relates to a tax year or fiscal period ending in any of the 10 calendar years before the year in which you make a request. For example, a request made in 2023 must relate to a penalty for a tax year or fiscal period ending in 2013 or later.

For interest on a balance owing for any tax year or fiscal period, the CRA will consider only the amounts that accrued during the 10 calendar years before the year in which you make a request. For example, a request made in 2023 must relate to interest that accrued in 2013 or later.

Refer to: Limitation period on exercising discretion and the deadline for requesting relief

Situations that do not qualify

The following do not qualify for relief under the Taxpayer Relief Provisions:

Other options that may better fit your situation

These options include:

For information about how to pay your debt, refer to:

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