FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 31, 2013
Mail out tax returns, let people choose for next year – CRA decision to cease mailing paper tax forms provokes unnecessary anxiety: CARP.
Toronto, ON: In an open letter to CRA Minister Gail Shea, CARP asks the agency to reverse recent, inadequately announced changes to income-tax filing policy by now mailing tax returns to the taxpayers who used paper forms last year and giving them a clear option to choose a mailed form for the next year. Accommodation is also needed for those who used Telefile, also cancelled.
CARP has received many complaints about the CRA’s decision to cease mailing paper income-tax forms. In a recent CARP Polltm, members said that the unexpected changes to tax filing policy would seriously disadvantage those Canadians, including seniors, who do not have internet access or are unable or uncomfortable filing taxes online. CARP members are concerned that the lack of sufficientadvance warning may cause many Canadians to miss filing their tax returns, leading to costly penalties and lost tax credits and benefits. CARP Members are also concerned that Canadians who live in remote or rural areas will also be most affected by these changes, as access to rural post offices to pick up paper forms is often limited.
Canadians of all ages have legitimate concerns about private digital data being lost, as was demonstrated in November 2012 when HRSDC lost the personal information of 600,000 Canadians. There is a growing acceptance of internet use for personal and financial matters by all Canadians, including seniors, but the wholesale changeover to online tax filing with little notice or time to prepare is provoking unnecessary anxiety.
Almost ten million Canadians used paper tax returns in 2012, according to the CRA which also said that 1.3 million paper forms were not used. But that still leaves over 8 million Canadians – many of whom are not seniors – faced with searching out the paper forms if they still want them. Media coverage of the issue has alerted many Canadians to the change but there is no assurance that people will be able to get the forms readily in time.
The lack of sufficient advance notice of the changes and the lack of credible alternatives to mailed paper forms may also cause many Canadians to miss the tax filing deadline, thereby incurring penalties, delaying their tax refunds and foregoing eligibility for government benefits such as the Guaranteed Income Supplement
“It’s clear that this was not well thought out – if it was thought about at all. The only way to remedy this is to mail out returns to those who filed on paper last year – with a clear option to choose the filing method next year. That has to be more efficient than staffing the 1-800 phone line and mailing out returns on request. CARP members, like most Canadians take their obligation to file their tax returns very seriously. This last minute disruption and for some, a serious barrier, is no way to manage this important relationship with Canadians whose taxes, after all, pay their salaries.” said Susan Eng, VP Advocacy for CARP.
Cancelling the Telefile option which was relied upon by people of very modest means will also disrupt the lives of the very people who need less red tape not more. This group – an estimated 300,000 Canadians clearly needs an accessible method of fulfilling their obligation to file a tax return and to access the tax credits and refunds to which they are entitled.
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CARP is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to advocating for a New Vision of Aging for Canada, social change that will bring financial security, equitable access to health care and freedom from discrimination. CARP seeks to ensure that the marketplace serves the needs and expectations of our generation and provides value-added benefits, products and services to our members. Through our network of chapters across Canada, CARP is dedicated to building a sense of community and shared values among our members in support of CARP’s mission.
For further information, please contact:
Sarah Park 416.607.2471
Media Relations, Policy Researcher and Coordinator
Michael Nicin 416.607.2479
Director of Policy