CRA Notice of Assessment
A taxpayer’s obligation to pay tax is not dependent on the taxpayer receiving a notice of assessment. A notice of assessment is the CRA’s acknowledgement that you have filed a tax return and provides a preliminary assessment of tax. The CRA commonly issues a notice of assessment and then subsequently reassesses the tax return when someone at the CRA has reviewed the return. The CRA may even issue a refund before someone at the CRA takes a good look at the return, which is subsequently reassessed, resulting in taxes owing by the taxpayer even though a refund has already been issued.
CRA Notice of Reassessment (NORA)
A notice of reassessment is issued if the CRA does not agree with a taxpayer’s original filing position. An explanation of the rationale the CRA used to arrive at the reassessment is generally attached to the NORA. Once a NORA has been issued, a taxpayer has 90 days to file a notice of objection (see below) if they do not agree with the NORA.
It is very important to ensure that you send your NORA to your accountant as soon as you receive it. NORAs can either be issued automatically (generally as a result of the improper application of certain tax pools such as loss carry forward pools, or Capital Cost Allowance pools) or after the CRA has processed the response to a request for information (see below).
CRA Statute Barred or ‘Normal Reassessment’ Period
- The CRA is able to issue a notice of reassessment if it disagrees with a taxpayer’s original filing position but it can only do so within certain timelines. The normal reassessment period is our tax legislation’s attempt at ensuring due course and giving the taxpayer some assurance that the CRA cannot indefinitely reassess their returns.
- For companies that are not a Canadian controlled private company or a mutual fund trust, the period in which the CRA can issue a reassessment is the period that ends four years after the day of sending a notice of an original assessment or notice that no tax is payable.
- In any other case (such is generally applicable for Canadian private companies) it is the period that ends three years after the day of sending a notice of an original assessment or notice that no tax is payable.
- The normal reassessment period can be extended by three years in certain circumstances where there was a transaction involving non-residents, or if a loss has been carried back to the period for a subsequent period.
- The normal reassessment period can be extended indefinitely if the CRA determines that the taxpayer misrepresented information in the originally filed return, which can be attributable to neglect, carelessness, willful default, or fraud. The onus to prove such intentions is on the CRA.
- A waiver of the normal reassessment period can also be requested by the taxpayer—typically in the course of a CRA audit.
CRA Notice of Objection
A taxpayer can submit a Notice of Objection (NOO) with the CRA. When received, the NOO will be assigned to an appeals officer who can vacate, change, or confirm the reassessed income.
It is very important for a taxpayer to put their best foot forward when filing a NOO. We generally recommend that you get the help of a professional tax accountant and tax lawyer in preparing the NOO prior to its submission.
If the CRA does not allow your NOO, and therefore confirms the reassessed income, you must decide if you want to challenge the CRA’s reassessment in the court system, which is extremely onerous and expensive. There are several layers in our court system, including provincial tax courts, the tax court of Canada, the federal court of appeals, and the Supreme Court of Canada.