The Tax Law Group has over 40 years of experience in resolving disputes with the CRA. The complexity of a dispute is often not tied to the amount in issue. Some of our clients say it feels like the CRA is spending more money pursuing a claim than the amount actually in issue. The CRA and their legal counsel at the Department of Justice are mandated by statute to ensure that taxpayers comply with Canada’s tax laws. This means that CRA auditors do not have the kind of financial budget that makes sense to regular taxpayers. We take a practical approach in resolving tax disputes. Our goal is to assist our clients to get to the correct tax result in a cost efficient manner.
Most of the time Canadians can safely assume that our financial circumstances are private matters. How much we make; our debt levels and how much we have put aside for retirement are not topics for polite dinner conversation. These private matters are precisely the subjects that the CRA is interested in. Our tax lawyers understand that dealing with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) can be overwhelming.
We understand the discomfort our clients feel when they allow CRA auditors to peer into the details of their personal lives. Whether at a CRA audit, CRA appeals (for Notices of Objection) or in Tax Court, it is also our job to keep our clients informed about the sometimes byzantine manner that their tax files are dealt with by government agencies. We have substantive tax expertise and in-depth knowledge of CRA administrative policy and procedures.
Since we work to resolve tax disputes in the most efficient manner. The majority of our cases are resolved without the need for a trial; however, when court proceedings are unavoidable our tax lawyers have the expertise and experience to represent our clients at all levels of court. Our tax lawyers have appeared at the Tax Court of Canada, the Provincial Court of British Columbia, the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the Federal Court of Appeal.
Most Canadians would be surprised that the CRA conducts criminal investigations of tax or GST fraud. These investigations usually arise from a normal tax audit. For some reason, the CRA auditor has determined that the actions of the taxpayer being audited are egregious enough to indicate that the taxpayer is intentionally underreporting their tax liabilities. In those circumstances the auditor will refer the audit file to the CRA Criminal Investigations Branch.
A criminal investigation of a taxpayer automatically invokes charter rights that apply in a more typical civil audit. In particular, taxpayers under criminal investigation are not obligated to speak to the investigators or provide information that might have the possibility of assisting the CRA auditor in the investigations process.
It is not all that unusual for the taxpayer to have no idea that the audit has become a criminal investigation. The CRA is obligated to advise taxpayers when they are being investigated criminally. The penalties for tax fraud can be quite severe. Our team of tax lawyers have successfully defended taxpayers charged with fraud. On occasion, we have been able to convince the CRA investigators and Department of Justice legal counsel that the fraud investigation is not well founded resulting in a withdrawal of charges without a trial.
Tax fraud proceedings are notoriously complicated. Successfully defending charges requires legal counsel to have knowledge of tax law, charter law, criminal law, and criminal procedure. If necessary, our tax lawyers work together with well-respected criminal counsel to that our clients can be assured of the best representation possible.