Does CRA Collections Need a Court Order to Take Enforcement Action?
When you owe money to the Canada Revenue Agency, it is very different from owing money to a regular creditor, but at the same time very similar. While a regular creditor can indeed take measures to collect the debt, the same measures taken by the CRA, CRA collections doesn’t need to follow the same route. A regular collections agency has to take certain steps before taking enforcement action against you, most notably obtaining a court order. CRA collections does not.
That’s right; CRA collections can levy enforcement action, including freezing your bank account, garnishing your wages, even placing a lien on your home, without first acquiring court approval.
Furthermore, they don’t need to make you aware of the enforcement action.
Once CRA collections has taken enforcement action, the only way to have it removed (other than paying the debt in its entirety) is through a consumer proposal or bankruptcy.
In a consumer proposal, a proposal is made to your creditors – in this case the CRA – based on a calculation of your debt, income and expenses. If the CRA accepts the proposal, you make a single monthly payment and interest is stopped. As soon as the consumer proposal is filed, enforcement action is stopped. In many cases, not only will the consumer proposal stop enforcement action and interest, it may also reduce the overall amount of your tax debt. Often repayment of a consumer proposal takes 5 years – a much longer period of time (and thus lower monthly payments) than the CRA would accept had you called to negotiate directly with them.
In the case of a bankruptcy, the process is different. You do not make a proposal to the CRA. In a bankruptcy (first time), an income calculation is done and a reasonable monthly payment amount is established. Once filed, you will pay monthly for 9 or 21 months, depending on your income. Once you have completed the terms of the bankruptcy – paying monthly, disclosing all income, paying any surplus income, participating in credit counselling – you will receive your discharge and can begin rebuilding your credit. As with a consumer proposal, as soon as the CRA is notified of your bankruptcy, collection action will stop.
While both a consumer proposal and bankruptcy are administered by a trustee in bankruptcy, we don’t recommend going directly to a bankruptcy trustee. The trustee is not your representative alone and anything disclosed to them will also be shared with the CRA. The best approach is to speak with a financial consultant first, one who can manage this process and can be trusted to keep your financial information confidential as you formulate a plan.
At DebtCare, we can help you develop a strategy to protect yourself. Call us first: 1-888-890-0888.