What is a Notice of Assessment (or Reassessment)?

When the Canada Revenue Agency (or technically, the Minister of National Revenue through his or her agent, the CRA) issues you a “Notice of Assessment”, it obligates you to pay the tax that is assessed. This makes the assessment the key piece of legal documentation in tax law.

It’s the assessment that legally creates and establishes the tax debt that CRA can collect, or establishes your right to a refund.

That Notice of Assessment is critical, and unfortunately too often it’s overlooked by taxpayers, who don’t know or understand that assessments can only be challenged through a formal objection process–one that has very tight deadlines to navigate!

Sometimes a Notice of Assessment is called a “Notice of Reassessment” and what I say here applies equally to a Notice of Reassessment.

If you have received a Notice of Assessment from CRA, for any type of tax (GST/HST, income tax, payroll deductions, or anything else) immediately contact a tax advisor if for ANY reason you think you might not owe the amount of tax  (or might not have been allowed the amount of losses) that it says you do. That means reviewing the Notice CAREFULLY along with any previous communications CRA might have sent regarding an audit, review or other procedure leading up to the Notice of Assessment.

You only have 90 days from the date stamped or printed on the assessment, to appeal (most of the time) by a Notice of Objection. You only have one year (most of the time) after that deadline in which you can ask to have it extended. After that total of 15 months or so has elapsed, that is it; and you will face a very difficult battle after then to have your tax debts corrected. Be vigilant and act fast in response to CRA! Never let unopened mail from CRA accumulate. One might be an assessment that needs a time-sensitive reply.

You can always call me at 905-870-0196 or email me at craig@craigburley.com to discuss any Notice of Assessment you might receive, and what it means for you.

Written by Craig Burley

Craig is a tax lawyer in private practice in Hamilton, Ontario. Call Craig at (905) 296-3378 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