File an objection – Income tax

1. Objections overview

You can file an objection if you think the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) misinterpreted the facts of your tax situation or applied the tax law incorrectly. It gives you an opportunity to have your say about your notice of tax assessment, reassessment, determination or redetermination.

When you file an objection, the CRA reviews all the information you provided before making a final decision about your case. If the CRA agrees with you in whole or in part, they will adjust your tax return and send you a notice of reassessment or redetermination. If the CRA disagrees with your objection, they will send you a notice informing you that the assessment or determination you disputed was correct.

Objections are an important way of making sure that Canada’s tax laws are administered fairly. They allow taxpayers to get a formal and impartial review of an assessment, determination, or decision that the CRA made.

2. Conditions for filing an objection

You can object only to four types of notices and you have to file your objection within specific deadlines.

Notices you can object to:

  • notice of assessment
  • notice of reassessment
  • notice of determination
  • notice of redetermination

These include notices about benefits or credits such as the GST/HST credit, the Canada child benefit, the disability tax credit and various provincial or territorial credits.

You cannot file an objection to dispute a statement of account or a proposal letter from an auditor explaining the reason for the proposed changes.

If you are in a loss position, you cannot file an objection because there is no tax, interest, or penalty involved. However, you can file an objection after you receive a notice of loss determination. You can ask for a loss determination by writing to your local tax services office or tax centre.

Deadlines for filing an objection:
Individuals (or a graduated rate estate)

The deadline for filing an objection is whichever of these two dates is later:

  • one year after the tax filing deadline for the return; or
  • 90 days from the date of your notice of assessment or determination.

If your objection relates to contributions to a tax-free savings account (TFSA) or a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), the deadline is 90 days from the date of your notice of assessment.

Corporations

  • 90 days from the date of your notice of assessment or determination.

Extension to the filing deadline

If you did not file your objection on time because you tried to resolve your issue with the CRA office responsible for sending your assessment or determination, or because of circumstances beyond your control, you can apply for an extension. You can do this at the same time as you file your notice of objection.

Explain why you did not file your objection on time and give the facts and reasons of your objection. You can apply for an extension up to one year after the deadline for filing an objection by writing to the Chief of Appeals at your Appeals Intake Centre.

Note

If you did not provide information during an audit or in response to a request from the CRA and are instead providing it as part of your objection, your information may be sent back to the area responsible for issuing your assessment or determination for a second review.

3. How to file an objection

You can file an income tax objection online, through your representative, by mail, or by delivering it in person to a tax services office or tax centre.

When you file an objection, you must clearly explain what you are objecting to, and why you disagree with your assessment or determination. Be sure to include all relevant facts and supporting documentation.

Large corporations must also describe each issue, specify the amount of relief sought for each issue and provide the facts and reasons for each issue.

Note

Your objection might take longer to resolve if the CRA has to ask you for missing information. Give the CRA all the relevant information as early in the process as possible to make sure that your objection is processed efficiently.

Attention: Public service employees with a 2017 T4 affected by Phoenix payroll issues

If you are expecting to receive an amended T4 slip, is filing an objection the most effective way to resolve your T4 issues? For more information on the tax implications of Phoenix payroll issues, go to Frequently Asked Questions-2017 Tax Implications of Phoenix Payroll issues and see the response to Question 8(d) about whether you should file an objection while waiting for an amended T4 slip. 

File an objection online

To file an objection online, log into My Account, or My Business Account, and select “Register my formal dispute” (notice of objection). When you register online, you will automatically receive a case number that you need to include when submitting documents. To submit supporting documents online, select Submit documents online.

Your objection will be sent directly to the Appeals Division for validation and review.

File an objection through your representative

You can have your authorized representative file an objection on your behalf. They can use Represent a Client and select “Register my formal dispute” (notice of objection).

File an objection by mail

To file an objection by mail, print and complete Form T400A, Objection – Income Tax Act and mail it to the Chief of Appeals at your Appeals Intake Centre.

You can also send them a signed letter clearly outlining the facts and reasons for your objection. For an example of an income tax objection letter, go to Resolving your dispute.

If your postal code starts with letters A to P, send your objection to the Eastern Appeals Intake Centre at the following address:

Chief of Appeals
Eastern Appeals Intake Centre
Canada Revenue Agency
North Central Ontario Tax Services Office
1050 Notre Dame Avenue
Sudbury ON P3A 5C1

If your postal code starts with letters R to Y, send your objection to the Western Appeals Intake Centre at the following address:

Chief of Appeals
Western Appeals Intake Centre
Canada Revenue Agency
Fraser Valley and Northern Tax Services Office, 2nd Floor
9755 King George Blvd
Surrey BC V3T 5E1

Non-residents can send their objection to either one of the Appeals Intake Centres.

4. When your objection will be processed

Objections are resolved case-by-case and their processing time may vary depending on their level of complexity. The number of days for the CRA to resolve an objection includes all the time that the objection is within the control of the Government of Canada but excludes the time taken by taxpayers to provide additional information to support their objection.

For information on the different complexity levels of objections, timelines and how to get updates on your objection, go to Processing times and complexity levels — Income tax and GST/HST.

5. When to pay amounts owing

Pay when you file an objection

In most cases, you do not have to pay income tax amounts that are in dispute until the CRA has completed its review of your objection. However, if the disputed amounts are taxes you had to withhold and remit, you have to pay them on time. The CRA will not postpone collection action on these disputed amounts.

If your assessment relates to an amount you claimed as a charitable donation tax credit under a gifting tax shelter, you have to pay half of the amount in dispute. When the CRA makes a decision on your objection, you must pay any remaining amounts you owe, including taxes, penalties and interest.

If you are a large corporation, you have to pay half of the disputed amount when you file your notice of objection. When the CRA makes a decision on your objection, you must pay any remaining amounts you owe, including taxes, penalties and interest.

Interest charges still apply to an amount owing while it is in dispute. You can pay all or part of the amount in dispute to avoid paying more interest on what you owe.

Pay after the CRA issues its decision

After the CRA makes a decision on your objection, you have to pay any amounts owing that are no longer under dispute, including taxes, penalties, and interest. Collection actions are usually delayed for 90 days after a decision is sent. To find out how to pay, go to Make a payment to the CRA.

Refund of amounts in dispute

If you filed an objection, you can ask the CRA to refund the amount in dispute if:

  • you already paid your amounts owing; and
  • you have not received a decision on your objection within 120 days.

Refunds for objections related to charitable donation tax credits or large corporations are limited to half of the amount in dispute.

If you cannot pay your tax debt

Ignoring your debt does not make it go away. If you cannot pay the full amount you owe, you can make a payment arrangement. If you owe money, it’s up to you to contact the CRA to resolve your situation and avoid paying more interest on what you owe.

The CRA can grant relief from penalties or interest, but only in certain circumstances.

6. Disagreeing with the CRA’s decision

If you disagree with the CRA’s decision on your objection, you can File an appeal to the Court.

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