Request for Disclosure from CRA in Tax Appeals

Canadian Income Tax – Taxation of Unreported Taxable Benefits – Toronto Tax Lawyer Analysis

The Importance of Access to Information and Privacy Requests in Tax Appeals – Calgary Tax Lawyer Comments

It is easier to tackle CRA taxation issues if you have access to the internal records and information that the CRA has in their possession. In particular, internal tax audit reports, audit working papers, valuation/appraisal reports and objection reports are excellent resources for your Canadian Tax Lawyer to provide you with proper tax help. You or your tax lawyer representative can make a formal request for documentary disclosure from the CRA under the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. In addition, recent CRA protocol has implemented a system of discretionary and mandatory referrals of information between the Tax Audit branches and the Tax Appeals branches of the CRA. For more information please see our article on referral protocol between Tax Audit and Tax Appeals at CRA. Records of the discussions between your Tax Auditor and your Tax Appeals officer are available via an Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) request. However, ATIP requests may take some time to complete, especially if you have requested your entire file from the CRA. Our top Edmonton Tax Lawyers can identify your tax issues and, if advisable, draft a tailored ATIP request in order to get these important tax documents from the CRA as quickly as possible.

What is an Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Request?

ATIP requests can be made under the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. The Privacy Act protects the privacy of individuals and allows individuals to access personal information about themselves held by a government institution. In legal terms, a corporation is not an “individual” therefore requests for government held information about corporations must be made under the Access to Information Act. The Access to Information Act permits access to information in records under the control of a government institution.

By making a written request to the ATIP Directorate and paying the corresponding fee, the ATIP Directorate is required by law to respond. Please note that each act has provisions that exempt certain information from being disclosed, even if requested. Government institutions may also refuse access to certain information under the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act; however, if refused, your Calgary tax lawyer has the right to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner and/or the Privacy Commissioner.

What information is available under the Access to Information and Privacy Acts?

CRA publication P148(E) Rev. 14 “Resolving your dispute: Objection and appeal rights under the Income Tax Act” states that the following is generally available to taxpayers:

  • Copies of your tax returns;
  • Reports prepared by an auditor to support your assessment;
  • Working papers prepared by a or that are relevant to the issues in your tax dispute;
  • Records of discussions between a taxation appeals officer and an auditor regarding your assessment;
  • Copies of court decisions and relevant sections of legislation relied on by a taxation auditor to support your assessment;
  • Scientific, appraisal, and valuation reports relied on by an auditor to determine your assessment; and
  • Information obtained from a third party with whom you are doing business, such as sales invoices, purchase orders, cancelled cheques.

This is not an exhaustive list. More information could be available than what is listed above depending on the facts surrounding the tax issue. Our top Vancouver Tax Lawyers prepare ATIP requests on a regular basis and are familiar with the types of documents the CRA will and will not provide.

Who can make an ATIP request?

Under the Access to Information Act the following can make a request:

  • Canadian citizens
  • Permanent residents
  • Any individual present in Canada
  • Any corporation present in Canada
  • Individuals that do not meet the categories listed above may ask a representative, who is a Canadian resident or permanent resident, to make a request on their behalf. Written consent is required.

    Under the Privacy Act the following can make a request:

    • Canadian citizens
    • Permanent residents
    • Any individual present in Canada
    • In order to obtain personal information belonging to someone else, you must submit written consent authorizing you to receive their information.

    Why are ATIP Requests important in Tax Appeals?

    While a taxpayer may receive CRA audit/objection correspondence that outlines the rationale behind CRA’s conclusions, the audit reports and objection reports offer more complete information. Collecting this information early in the process may lead to an earlier resolution of disputes with the CRA. In addition, tax issues are often complicated and may have been ongoing for several years. Having a complete documentary record of correspondence received over the years at issue from the CRA will allow your Canadian Tax Lawyer to better advise you in your tax matters.

    What is the expected timeline for the completion of an ATIP request?

    Our top Toronto tax lawyers have had seen a wide range of response times. The following factors affect the timeline for completion for an ATIP request:

    • Backlog
    • Amount of Information being Requested
    • Invalid Authorization

    Acknowledgment will often be sent shortly after the request is made; however, our experienced Canadian Tax Layers often receive correspondence from the Access to Information and Privacy Directorate stipulating that more time is needed to fulfill the ATIP request. Completion for ATIP disclosures can range anywhere from 30 days to over a year from the date the request is sent.

    Conclusion

    The submission of an ATIP request is an important part of working towards the resolution of taxation issues. Contact one of our expert Canadian Tax Lawyers if you have questions about an ATIP request or if you need assistance in your tax objection or tax appeal process.