What If I Owe the CRA a Lot of Money (3 Minute Debt Break)

2024-03-01  3 minute read

Debt Solutions


wing the government money can be very intimidating. It’s a topic that resonates with many Canadians. How to deal with debt owed to the Canada Revenue Agency, especially given the CRA's broad powers to collect what's owed. We’ll dive into what those powers entail, how you can navigate the situation, and what options are available if you find yourself overwhelmed.

couple paying bills together

First off, the CRA doesn't need to step into a courtroom to start collecting on your debt. They can directly garnish wages—up to 50% from employment income and even 100% from subcontractor earnings. They can freeze your bank accounts, withhold tax credits like your GST refund, assess and apply penalties to unfiled tax returns, and even place a lien on your property. It's a comprehensive list that underscores the importance of addressing any debt proactively.

So, how do you avoid getting into a situation where these measures become a reality? It boils down to compliance and communication. Filing any outstanding tax documents and keeping up with yearly returns is step one. It's not just about showing the CRA you're trying to sort things out; it's also about understanding your total debt, which is crucial for planning your way out of it. 

Once you're up to date, the next step is reaching out to the CRA to discuss payment arrangements. They might ask for a detailed snapshot of your financial life to figure out what you can realistically pay each month. It's a process that requires honesty and some tough sacrifices but it's worth it to get back on track.

But what if your best efforts fall short? Sometimes the debt is just too towering, or your budget too tight, to make the numbers work. This is when speaking with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee can be a game-changer. They can guide you through the options of bankruptcy or a consumer proposal, both of which can include CRA debt and can provide a fresh start. 

Licensed Insolvency Trustees don't just help with immediate relief; they're also there to ensure you don't find yourself back in the same boat down the line. Whether bankruptcy is the right path or you just need some advice on managing your finances better, they can offer the expertise and support you need.
Facing CRA debt is undeniably challenging, but it's not insurmountable. With the right approach—filing your taxes, communicating with the CRA, and possibly seeking professional advice—you can navigate through the storm and come out the other side. 

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