How does the Canada Revenue Agency find out about undeclared income?

The Canada Revenue Agency is extremely resourceful when it comes to finding out about undeclared income. The age of technology has made it very easy for them to find out information and when they do they will come after the taxes that they believe that you owe. So how does the Canada Revenue Agency find out about undeclared income?

Here are some of the common ways that the Canada Revenue Agency can find out that you have earned income that you haven’t declared:

• Audits. When one company is audited it often triggers a chain reaction. If you are self-employed and have performed services or worked for a company who is audited, the Canada Revenue Agency will often look at invoices and cheques that have been paid to other companies and then check to see if the other company is up to date in their tax filings or if the amounts of the invoices exceed the companies declared income.

• Tax Slips. Many contractors assume that because they are paid by cheque that the CRA won’t know about their income until they file a tax return. Companies must file a T4A for each contractor who they paid during a given tax year that includes the amount of income paid to the contractor for that tax year.

• CRA Snitch Line. The CRA has an anonymous phone number where people can report friends, family members, colleagues, suppliers etc… who have undeclared income. Commonly ex-spouses and business partners will exploit these services to wreak havoc on another which they once had a relationship with and now hold ill will towards them.

Once the CRA thinks that you may have undeclared income the real trouble can start. If you are up to date in your tax filings they can audit or re-assess your tax returns. If you have not filed a tax return they can file a notional assessment which is filing your return on your behalf and then assessing income and taxes that you will owe. They will add penalties to any tax that you owe in association to undeclared income and charge interest on the tax debt and penalties retroactively. This can double and even triple the size of a tax debt.

So what can you do if you have undeclared income? First, don’t wait until the CRA catches up to you. If you know you have undeclared income, if you come forward and declare it under the voluntary disclosure program before they contact you about the undeclared income; you can avoid interest and penalties altogether. Organizations that specialize in helping people with tax problems can make an application from you under the voluntary disclosure program on your behalf.

If the CRA is already pursuing you about undeclared income, hire representation immediately. A representative who is skilled at working with taxpayers who have tax problems can act on your behalf to help you become tax compliant.

The worst thing you can do is ignore the problem because it won’t go away by itself. Failing to declare income is tax evasion under the income tax act and the CRA has many tools at their disposal to come after you including criminal prosecution. Time is your enemy and the faster you deal with your undeclared income the better!

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