New CRA Policy on Consent Forms?

I have been informed by CRA that Tax Centres are no longer accepting faxed consent/authorization forms such as T1013 or RC59, and that faxed versions will not be processed.

These are the forms that you sign to allow your accountant, tax preparer, lawyer, attorney, or other representative to obtain your information from, or provide your information to, CRA.

I was speaking to an officer with one of CRA’s Collections Departments this week regarding an issue with consent forms; an RC59 had been faxed to the taxpayer’s Tax Centre some weeks previously, but when the officer was contacted I was told the consent was not on file. After the now-usual faxing of the document directly to the officer, I commented that the form had been faxed to the Tax Centre weeks ago and I was told (to my consternation!) that Tax Centres were no longer accepting faxed consent forms, but only original paper versions, for placing on the taxpayer’s file.

This is a new requirement; in the past, Tax Centres always accepted faxed consents. CRA’s current RC59 form lists the fax numbers of the Tax Centres under the “Send the completed form to your Tax Centre” heading in the instructions. T1013 forms, however, do not include the fax numbers and specify service standards and the like for “paper” forms only.

I have followed up with the taxpayer’s particular Tax Centre regarding this policy; I will follow up here with any response I receive. I would note that I have noticed ever-fewer of my consents making it to the relevant taxpayer files and now I understand the reason why. Faxing the form to Tax Centre had always been my practice, not least because of the frequency with which consents did not make it to file, necessitating the resending.

My new policy will be to have clients sign three originals at the beginning of a matter, in order to avoid the need for sending forms back for re-execution.

It is not the first time that consent forms have caused serious practical issues for tax practitioners: a number of years ago CRA suddenly and without warning changed their policies regarding consent forms, and began systematically shredding documents sent by taxpayer representatives where a T1013 or RC59 was not already on file. In a number of instances, packages of documents containing consent forms in the package were shredded unread by CRA. This problem seems to have abated in recent years, however.

Nevertheless, as so often, CRA has taken it upon itself to change an important policy regarding communications, without consultation, without notice, and indeed without thinking of the ramifications on the rights of taxpayers.

Written by Craig Burley

Craig is a tax lawyer in private practice in Hamilton, Ontario. Call Craig at (905) 870-0196 to discuss issues that you think may need independent tax advice. In addition to tax, Craig writes and works publicly on a number of other issues related to law, justice, and public affairs.

Website: http://craigburley.com

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