I wrote this letter to CRA today.
Dear Sir or Madam:
At the end of your General Income Tax and Benefit Guide 2006, it says “Your opinion counts!” Well, here’s my opinion.
I’m a little bit pissed off. More than a little bit pissed off, actually. In fact, to put an exact figure on it, I’m precisely $2718.50 worth of pissed off.
“Why is Ron so pissed off?” you may ask. I’m that pissed off because that is the exact amount of the secret late-filing penalty plus interest that your Guide did not expend even a molecule of ink to warn me about.
Here’s what the Guide has to say about late-filing penalties: “The penalty is 5% of your 2006 balance owing, plus 1% of your balance owing for each full month that your return is late, to a maximum of 12 months.” And that is just about all it has to say on the subject. A little bit about some higher fees that may apply if I was charged a late penalty in previous years, but I wasn’t, so that’s nothing.
“Fantastic,” says Ron. “I know my balance owing will be $0, so the penalty is $0, and I can just take my time with this.”
Poor, poor gullible Ron. He should not have taken the Guide’s word for it. He should have gone and read the Income Tax Act, Subsection 162(7)(a). If he had done that, he would have learned about the other penalty. The secret penalty.
162(7) Every person (other than a registered charity) or partnership who fails
(a) to file an information return as and when required by this Act or the regulations, or
(b) to comply with a duty or obligation imposed by this Act or the regulations
is liable in respect of each such failure, except where another provision of this Act (other than subsection 162(10) or 162(10.1) or 163(2.22)) sets out a penalty for the failure, to a penalty equal to the greater of $100 and the product obtained when $25 is multiplied by the number of days, not exceeding 100, during which the failure continues.
How hard would it have been for you to mention that? I know the Guide is not the law. But it is not fair for it to be downright deceptive. This is not some arcane subtlety that would affect one person in a thousand. This is big. A lie of omission is still a lie. You tricked me, and now I’m $2718.50 poorer. And that is why I am pissed off.