I have auditioned for parts, and been rejected. I have submitted manuscripts for publication, and been rejected. I have asked women out for bananas (as opposed to dates), and been rejected. I never dreamed that The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) would reject my tax returns.
Sunspots delayed me in filing my tax returns for the past twelve years. (I am blaming sunspots because I don’t want to take responsibility.) The sunspots went away, and I finally filed returns from 2003 to 2014 in the Spring of 2015.
The CRA had already assessed my taxes for 2003 and 2004. I paid the taxes plus interest and penalties plus more interest and penalties and still more interest and penalties. The CRA told me that I still had to file returns for 2003 and 2004, and would receive a refund if they had assessed too much. But they sent both tax returns back with a letter stating that they would not process my returns because I had filed them past the ten-year period allowable for re-assessment. In other words, their assessment was final.
Why would they tell me to file returns, for 2003 and 2004, only to reject them? Is it possible that their assessments for 2003 and 2004 were higher than what I actually owed? Did they invoke the ten-year rule so they would not have to pay me more of a refund on top of the refund they already owe me? Who knows? I am grateful that they did not lock me up for tax evasion, or take my firstborn.
I don’t know about other countries, but in Canada you are not entitled to receive a tax refund if you file after three years. If you file after three years, and are entitled to a refund, the CRA can refuse to send it. You can appeal to the Grand Poobah, and he or she may grant you a refund as far back as ten years from the date you filed. After ten years, you are no longer entitled to receive any refund. The ten-year rule does not apply if you owe taxes. How interesting that there is a time limit if they owe you money, but no time limit if you owe them money.
Here is how the CRA rejection letter, they sent with my 2003 and 2004 tax returns, translated in my mind:
Dear Mr. Johnston:
Thank you for thinking about the Canada Revenue Agency and submitting your 2003 and 2004 tax returns. As you know, we receive a high volume of tax returns from Canadians across the country. We read your tax returns with great interest, and were impressed with their quality, but we are returning them to you. Your tax returns are not what we are looking for at this time.
Thank you, again, for thinking about us. We wish you great success with submitting tax returns to us in the future.
P. Choo Pompdeedoo
Asssistant to the Assistant to the Assistant of The Grand Poobah,
Silly Services Section, Canada Revenue Agency