Taxpayer Bill of Rights
Your Rights as a Canadian Taxpayer

by L. Kenway BComm CPB Retired

What You'll Find In This Chat

Let's chat about good bookkeeping practices.
  • When the taxpayer bill of rights does not apply
  • CRAs 5 commitments to small business
  • 4 basic rights and r fights similar to ITA protection
  • 8 rights to recourse
  • Taypayer's Ombudsman

The Canadian Bill of Rights for taxpayers lays out 16 basic rights along with 5 commitments to Small Business in RC4417. As a bookkeeper who does accounting for small business, you should be aware of the Bill of Rights.

So why don't you pour yourself a cup of nice, hot tea before we go through the taxpayer bill of rights together.

30 Second Stress Break Before We Get Started

Do you have your cup of tea? Great, let's start this chat by wrapping your hands around the hot tea cup and inhaling the smell of your tea ... go on ... do it.

Now exhale. Consciously inhale and exhale again.

Next pick a color that describes how you feel right now. Did your colour choice surprise you?

Take in this moment. Notice if you like the smell of the tea or the warmth of the tea cup on your hands or if you felt any tension leave your body when you exhaled ... now that is what I call the start to a tea break! :0)

Okay now that we've cleared our head, let's get started reviewing the taxpayer bill of rights.

Tax Audits - Four Part Series
click on image below to go to chat

Chat 1

Tax Audits The Process

Chat 2

Receiving a Tax Notice

Chat 3

Taxpayer Rights

Chat 4

Voluntary Disclosure


An article by JA Smith & Associates Inc., CGA ( points out that the following declaration of taxpayer bill of rights does NOT apply if you are under tax investigation ... as that is a criminal matter subject to the Charter Rights ... unlike tax audits which are a civil matter.

Reference: How to avoid being audited and how to handle it if you can't avoid it

CRA's Commitment to Small Business

As CRA's bureaucracy and efforts affect small business bookkeeping, I thought I'd start by reviewing CRA's Commitment to Small Business.

I research US tax information for my U.S. visitors and I gotta tell you ... the CRA is doing / has done a superb job of reducing bureaucracy and red tape for small business owners in Canada ... especially how the federal and provincial/territorial governments work together ... I'm almost in awe after looking how independently and competitively the U.S federal and state governments appear to work ... or not work.

The CRA is committed to:

  1. minimizing the cost of compliance for small business;
  2. working with all governments to reduce the compliance burden, minimize cost, and streamline service;
  3. providing service offerings that meet the needs of small business.
  4. explaining how they conduct business with small business; and
  5. helping small business comply with the legislation by conducting outreach activities.

You can keep track of CRA's small business outreach events and seminars in your city by going to their website Look on the left hand side bar under Information About and click on Events and Seminars.

The Small Business Seminar is usually offered in the winter months. It is a free seminar that is great if you are just starting your business or if you are a bookkeeper and want to refresh your knowledge ... to make sure you haven't missed anything along the way.

The day long seminar, covers almost everything you need to do small business bookkeeping. Sometimes instead of covering all the material in one day, the seminar is broken into three seminars. The three modules are:

  • Payroll module
  • GST module
  • Income tax module

Sessions are starting up again. Check the CRA website to see if they are being offered in your community.

The first 8 Taxpayer Right

Here are the first 8 of your 15 basic taxpayer rights as laid out in RC4417 and RC17 (E):

  1. Entitlements - to pay no more and no less than what is required by law and to receive all benefits, credits and refunds you are entitled to.
  2. Bilingual service - the right to be served in both official languages at designated bilingual offices.
  3. Courtesy and consideration - the right to be treated with professionalism, respect, and courtesy.
  4. Information - the right to complete,accurate, and clear information in plain language that explains policies and laws.

These next four rights are similar to taxpayer protection covered in the Income Tax Act:

  1. Formal review - the right to a formal review and a subsequent appeal to the courts if disputed taxes cannot be resolved.
  2. Consistent treatment - fair and consistent application of the law.
  3. Disputed amounts - the right to not pay income tax amounts before you have had an impartial review.
  4. Privacy and confidentiality - the right to expect the protection and management of your personal and financial information against unauthorized use or disclosure.

The Knowledge Bureau noted in their June 23, 2009 free newsletter that the Income Tax Act also provides taxpayer protection provisions through the taxpayer's right to (1) appeal, (2) fairness and leniency, and (3) privacy (a completed Form T1013 and/or RC59 is required before information can be released to third parties).

The next 7 Taxpayer Bill of Rights

On June 18, 2009, Minister Blackburn reminded Canadians they have recourse options available if they do not agree with their CRA assessment.

Here are the last 7 taxpayer bill of rights a bookkeeper should be aware of, which includes taxpayer recourse options.

  1. Service Complaints - the right to lodge a complaint and receive an explanation of CRA findings.
  2. Cost of Compliance - the right to have your time, effort and costs considered when administering tax legislation with continual improvement and streamlining.
  3. Accountability - CRA is accountable for what they do to all Canadians through Parliament. You have the right to have decisions explained as well as your rights and obligations.
  4. Tax Relief - under extraordinary circumstances, you have the right to relief from penalties and interest under tax legislation. Use form RC4288 Request for Taxpayer Relief.
  5. The Knowledge Bureau July 7, 2009 free newsletter discussed options regarding undue hardship that is useful for bookkeepers to know. Here are three that were discussed.

    • You can request a reduction in withholding taxes on income using form T1213 Request to Reduce Tax Deductions at Source. Reasons you might do this include:high medical expenses,large charitable donations;regular RRSP contributions;child care expenses;support payments;employment expenses; oryou claim the caregiver amount.
    • You can also request an increase in withholding taxes. This is an option to consider when receiving OAS or CPP benefits. Use form ISP3520 Request for Income Tax Deductions.
    • You can request overpaid installments be refunded if it is causing undue hardship. Decisions are made on a case by case basis.
  6. Service Standards - you have the right to published results of CRA service standards once the Annual Report is tabled with Parliament.
  7. Tax Schemes - timely warning about questionable tax schemes is a basic taxpayer right. (Subscribing to Tax Alerts is an easy way to do this.)
  8. Representation - it is your right to be represented by the person of your choice. Form T1013 Authorizing or Cancelling a Representative for individuals or Form RC59 Business Consent Form for businesses on file with CRA should be reviewed periodically by signing into My Account or My Business Account. Be selective on who has level 2 access to your account(s).

The Newest Taxpayer Bill of Rights

On June 27, 2013, CRA added another right ... the right to lodge a complaint and request a formal review without fear of reprisal.

Taxpayers' Ombudsman

If you feel that the CRA has not resolved your service complaint in a satisfactory manner, you have the option to contact the Taxpayers' Ombudsman at for an independent review of your situation. He works to ensure the taxpayer bill of rights is upheld for all Canadians.

We've come to the end of this chat on Canadian Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Before you get back to work, you might want to take a minute to get familiar with your tax compliance responsibility timeline options.

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