Who can apply

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

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

Situations that may qualify

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

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.

Additionally, an extraordinary circumstance could be:

  • your representative or third party experienced an extraordinary circumstance that prevented you from meeting your tax obligations. However, you are generally considered to be responsible for errors or delays made by your representative or third party.

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 account. For example, this may occur when:

  • loss of work causes you financial hardship and you cannot pay
  • interest charges make up a major amount of what's due and you are unable to make a payment arrangement
  • for individuals, paying the interest would make it difficult to provide basic necessities, such as food, medical help, transportation, or shelter
  • for businesses, paying the interest would jeopardize the continuity of business operations, employees' jobs, and the welfare of the community as a whole
Actions by 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. Send us an application to have your penalties and interest cancelled or waived. Once we review your application, we will be able to determine if your circumstances can be considered for relief.

Reminder: Meeting the above criteria does not guarantee that your application will be approved. Make sure to send any information and documents that you feel support your application. Everything received will be looked at and used in our review. If we need to request additional information, this will delay the review process.

Penalties and interest from the past 10 years

We will consider your request if you are requesting relief for penalties and interest that you have accumulated within the past 10 years.

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

Situations that do not qualify

The following situations do not qualify under the Taxpayer Relief Provisions for the cancellation or waiver of penalties and interest:

When the penalties and interest is outside the past 10 years

Relief is only granted for penalties and interest that you have accumulated within the past 10 years.

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

Errors or delays made by a third party acting on your behalf

A third party who receives a fee and gives incorrect advice, or makes calculating or accounting errors, is usually responsible to their client for any penalties and interest charged.

Exception: The CRA may consider granting relief, if an extraordinary circumstance beyond the control of your representative has prevented you from meeting your tax obligations.

Cancel or waive tax

The Taxpayer Relief Provisions do not permit the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to cancel or waive properly assessed tax

Dispute an assessment or reassessment

To find out how to file a formal objection to the applicable Notice of Assessment or Notice of Reassessment, refer to: Complaints and disputes

Cancel administrative charges such as bank charge back fees

Call the CRA general enquiries number or the telephone number provided on the correspondence received for more information.

Cancel the GST/HST gross negligence penalty

We cannot consider a request to cancel the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) gross negligence penalty charged under section 285 of the ETA.

To find out about filing a formal objection, refer to: Notice of Objection (Excise Tax Act).

Other options that may better fit your situation

Consider alternative ways to find relief from tax debt or to correct a return:

If you do not qualify for relief from penalties and interest, or other options, you can pay your debt over time. Refer to:

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