Requesting taxpayer relief

Can’t pay your tax bill on time, what can you do?

Know that you do have options. Temporary or recurring situations may limit your ability to pay taxes, but identifying your specific circumstances and bringing them forward on time may provide you much needed tax relief.

What circumstances may spare you from penalties and interests?

Currently, the CRA lists four specific circumstances for which you may qualify.

Extraordinary Circumstances

When your business and or personal life suffer the devastating effect of events beyond your control.

Actions of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

When actions or processes from the CRA result in misinformation or delays that affect your submissions.

Inability to Pay or Financial Hardship

When making payments would compromise the ability to remain in business or maintain a reasonable lifestyle.


When your situation does not fall within the previously listed.

What is the deadline to submit a request?

From the current tax year, the CRA will review tax relief requests regarding penalties, interests and refunds for a period of time dating back to a maximum of 10 years.  In addition to the existing three-year period, requests for tax return rectifications now extend to the 10-year period.

What are the steps to submit a request?

Start by identifying your specific circumstance, followed by putting together paperwork that provides a detailed account of what you are facing, including the impacts on your business and personal life. Once you have completed the previous steps, submit your request to the office assigned to your current location.

What to expect once the request has been submitted?

A decision to approve, partially approve or deny your request will be notified following a review process by a CRA designated official during which you may be contacted. To approve or deny a request, the CRA will take into consideration your specific circumstances as well as the actions you have taken to clarify the situation within reasonable time. Expect approved requests to be notified and include details on applicable refunds and reductions.

Will the request be affected by a pending appeal or objection?

Although a final decision will not be made until pending issues are resolved and rights to appeal expire, going ahead with the request could spare you from additional delays and penalties.

What to do following a denied or invalid request?

Denied request

A denied request is not the last stop, if you disagree with the outcome, you may object, ask for review or go to court.

Invalid request

Often the result of incomplete paperwork or missed deadlines, invalid requests do not prevent you from submitting again.