Accountants are smart but not psychic

 I regularly get phone calls that start off “my refund is less than you said it would be”, or “The CRA says my balance owing is higher than you told me it would be”. This is immediately followed up by “why?”, or, “What did you do wrong?”

Not to brag, but I am really smart. That said, I am NOT psychic, and I am not a mind reader. I need to see the Notice of Assessment (NOA) or Reassessment Notice that the CRA sent or is sending you. It would also be nice to get the benefit of the doubt until it is determined what exactly the problem is. It would also be nice if people would at least attempt to read and understand their notices and CRA mail before blowing a gasket or calling.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to help, and yes I understand taxes and the CRA better than 90% of the population, but most times the answer is in English (or French depending on your official language). At least by reading the Notices you will have an idea (even if it is only vague), which will point you to the general source of the problem.

I will be the first to admit that I am NOT perfect, but most of the time (read 99.9%) the issue is with the CRA and you. Issues include: missed T-slips, previous account balances, prior years reassessments, double claimed credits because spouses filed separately and at different accountants, claiming things like RRSP’s in the wrong year, or that brown envelope in the drawer you were too afraid to open and that you never told me about. I could go on but you get the idea. Explaining differences is something that the CRA do reasonably well on the Notices of Assessment.

So stop hyperventilating and take a deep breath. Then read every word and give the CRA a chance to explain what they did. You might be surprised at how simple the answer is. That is not to say the CRA is right, but at least you will know that it wasn’t me that screwed up. You will also know what to tell me when you call. If after all this you still don’t understand, or think that something needs to be fixed, scan and email, or fax me the whole notice (yes every page front and back) so that I can read it for myself. Almost everything can be fixed.

 

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