We Need a Canadian Bill of Rights for Taxpayers!
By Thomas Johnston B.A. LLB.
There is growing evidence that Canadians need a Canadian Bill of Rights for Taxpayers. The Canada Revenue Agency’s power has grown immensely over the past few decades, and we now have the most draconian bureaucracy in the world.
One of the facts that distinguishes our tax system from the rest of the world is that taxpayers in Canada have the burden of proof to establish that the Federal Government’s calculation or assessment of his or her taxable income is wrong. The Income Tax Act says that an income tax assessment is deemed (i.e. is pretended to be correct) regardless of any error, defect or omission in the assessment by the Government. Only in Canada I say!
In the U.S., which has the world’s most complex and sophisticated tax law, they have had a taxpayer Bill of Rights since 1998. This places the burden of proof in tax disputes on the Federal Government rather than the taxpayer. Surprise, their system works better than ours!
In my view, there is no reason for our Federal Tax Department, with its massive bureaucracy and incredible investigative, regulatory, administrative and criminal powers to be presumed to be right all the time! The original rationale for this reverse onus rule is that the average Canadian possessed most of the facts and, therefore, should have the responsibility to prove them. Nowadays, the Tax Department holds the vast majority of
information and has the right to make demands for information from any taxpayer and, from any person. The ‘tax man’ in Canada is all powerful.
It is time for a Canadian Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights. We need to follow the American example and shift the burden to where it belongs - on the Federal Government - to prove their case before they ‘pick our pockets’.