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CRA blunder forces tax deadline extension


Rejoice, procrastinators. This year's deadline to file income-tax returns has been pushed back by five days because the Canada Revenue Agency issued a bungled notice last week.

"Due to human error, an incorrect notification was sent around to tax preparers on Friday," Rebecca Rogers, director of communications for Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay, told The Globe and Mail.

As a result, Canadians who file their taxes before ‎May 5 will not face any penalty, she said.

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The notice stated: "All returns transmitted electronically up until 3:00 a.m., Eastern Time, Tuesday Ma any 5, 2015, will be considered as filed on time."

That date was in fact the deadline for electronic tax forms that need to be resubmitted after they are returned for correction.

By Monday, the CRA issued a new notice, to say that, as usual, returns were due at the latest at midnight, April 30.

"Please ignore the April 24th message related to this topic," the CRA said in an online update.

However, because of the confusion, Ms. Findlay decided that people who file between April 30 and May 5 would not face penalties.

"Minister Findlay has made it clear that this incorrect information is unacceptable and therefore she has directed her officials to ensure no Canadians are penalized for the CRA's error‎," Ms. Rogers said.

Some tax preparers made clear their frustrations with the changing dates.

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William Gulletson, owner of the Toronto accounting firm Gulletson Greenberg, sent a letter of complaint to the CRA.

"I received an e-mail April 24 stating that the deadline for e-filing will be Tuesday May 5 … I notified clients of this change and adjusted my and my staff schedule for this change. Now, three days later, I have received an email stating that the deadline is now [April 30] … this is outrageous!" he said in the letter, which he shared with The Globe and Mail.

Toronto tax preparer Richard Keshen at King West Tax Services said he suspected a blunder right away because the date had been changed with no further specifics.

"It was pretty self-explanatory," he said.

It is the second year in a row that the traditional April 30 deadline has been extended.

Last year, taxpayers were able to file as late as May 5 because concerns linked to the "Heartbleed" software bug prompted a four-day shutdown of the CRA website.

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Quebeckers, who have to file a separate provincial return, will also get a similar extension to May 5, the Quebec Revenue Department said in a statement on Tuesday.

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About the Author
National reporter

Tu Thanh Ha is based in Toronto and writes frequently about judicial, political and security issues. He spent 12 years as a correspondent for the Globe and Mail in Montreal, reporting on Quebec politics, organized crime, terror suspects, space flights and native issues. More


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