Northerners share their CRA horror stories in wake of tax review story

Readers from across the North chimed in with their horror stories of having their income taxes reassessed following a CBC North story on the issue.

One reader reported having been reviewed for 14 years straight

After CBC's story this week on tax reviews in the North, readers were quick to chime in with their horror stories of having their income taxes reassessed. (Nick Murray/CBC)

This week, CBC North wrote about Northerners who said they've been overly reassessed on their income taxes year after year. After the story was published, readers, listeners and viewers spoke out about their own experiences with the Canada Revenue Agency. 

On Twitter, Iqaluit's Terry Audla, the former president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, said he'd been reassessed "every single year for the past 14 to 15 years."

Further west, Andrew Bailes, from Norman Wells, N.W.T., said in the comments section that he'd been reassessed at least 15 times in the 23 years he's lived there.

"We got reassessed for child care expenses because we didn't file for child tax credit, which you don't get if you make more than [$60,000], he wrote.

"We have been reassessed for northern resident deductions numerous times. Reassessed for medical travel, reassessed for vacation travel allowance."

Kyle Sheppard, an Iqaluit city councillor, tweeted he'd been reassessed 11 times in 14 years.

(CBC North/Facebook)
(CBC North/Facebook)

Friendly advice

Some readers had some advice for fellow Northerners. Dave MacDonald said he had been reassessed four years in a row, until he tried a different approach.

"Expect to be audited [reassessed] next year and every year after until you you have your taxes done professionally and then it will end," he wrote in the comments section.

"I believe it was four years in a row I was audited until I took this advice and have been gold ever since."

Jean-François Latour, who says he has been reassessed 17 times over the years without making an error on his income tax, said some of his Inuktitut-speaking colleagues often don't understand why they're being reassessed.

"I am now trying to help them fill the infamous T2222 [northern residents deduction form] to justify why they should get the credit they deserve," he wrote in the comments, "especially having live[d] their whole life in the North and facing the exorbitant cost of living."

Notably, the Canada Revenue Agency's list of "Top 10 commitments" to improve tax services in the North, is to "carry out a pilot project to attract and recruit post-secondary students to the CRA who can speak Inuktitut."

South of 60

But it wasn't just people living in the territories who chimed in. Solomon Kane commented on that while he was living in Northern Alberta from 2004 from 2016, he was reassessed every year for the northern living allowance.

Of note, when CBC News dug into the issue of Northern reassessments, we primarily focused on reassessments in the territories, and even more specifically among people who live in the territory year-round — to therefore not have the numbers skewed by temporary workers.

That's because all three territories fall entirely under "Zone A" for the northern residents deduction, whereas places like Northern Alberta is split between Zone A, Zone B and eventually as you work your way further south, some communities don't quality for the tax deduction at all.

Since some people may be filing taxes close to the border separating the different zones, it's reasonable to assume the CRA would carry out more reassessments for people in those areas, whereas people living in the territories year-round — and their whole lives — may arguably not be as big of a tax risk.

Still, some lifelong Nunavummiut have prepared themselves for that ominous reassessment letter.


Nick Murray


Nick Murray is a CBC News reporter, based in Iqaluit since 2015. He specializes in investigative reporting and access to information legislation. A graduate from St. Thomas University's journalism program, he's also covered four Olympic Games as a senior writer with CBC Sports.


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