Ottawa woman says payout for CRA blunder falls short
CRA manager hand delivered Nicole Davoudi's cheque Thursday
An Ottawa woman owed thousands of dollars in missing child benefits says she's happy to finally have a cheque in her hand, but says the promised payout from the Canada Revenue Agency falls far short of the amount she was expecting.
On Thursday a CRA manager dropped by Nicole Davoudi's home in the Ottawa neighbourhood of Orléans to hand deliver a cheque for $5,041.22.
"It seems lower than what I was hoping for," Davoudi said.
The money is meant to cover Canada child tax benefits CRA mistakenly sent to someone else for a decade, after an agent wrongly entered Davoudi's banking information when she first applied for the benefit in 2006.
Davoudi, a single mother of two teenage girls, only realized the mistake in April, kicking off a long and frustrating chain of phone calls and emails to the tax agency. In August CRA began sending Davoudi cheques to make up for the missing payments, but only covering a period back to 2013 — about $9,000.
Davoudi was originally told she'd be paid back to 2010, but not for the four years before.
No 6-year cutoff after all
While CRA wouldn't discuss Davoudi's case specifically, spokeswoman Jelica Zdero told CBC in an email Monday: "If the results substantiate that the payment was deposited into the wrong bank account, funds are recovered and the client is issued a new payment. Payments older than six years cannot be validated because the Financial Administration Act prescribes [Public Services and Procurement Canada] to destroy payment records after six years."
On Tuesday, the same day CBC first published a story about Davoudi's case, a CRA manager called to tell her she would in fact receive benefits dating back to 2006.
Zdero later explained: "the Financial Administration Act's six-year limit on the retention of payment records in no way prevents the CRA from issuing a payment from more than six years ago to a taxpayer that is entitled to these payments," seeming to contradict the information she'd provided the day before.
"I think it feels good to be able to help, and to see the issue resolved," said Kim Lambert, the CRA manager who delivered the cheque on Thursday. Lambert noted the delivery method is "not the norm" for CRA.
'A lot less than what I was supposed to get'
But the cheque didn't come close to the amount Davoudi was expecting. Based on the payments she has received, Davoudi was anticipating as much as twice the amount she received.
"I seemed a lot less than what I was supposed to get, and really no cost-of-living adjustment or no interest paid back as well. I know that if I owed the government money that I would be paying interest for sure."
Davoudi said a document that accompanied the cheque is difficult to decipher. For some of the years between 2006 and 2012, CRA issued only a few payments, instead of 12 equal monthly amounts. There are no payments at all for 2009, even though Davoudi claimed the child tax benefit that year, and her income the year before didn't fluctuate.
"I'm just not happy with no explanation," she said.
Davoudi has already followed up with Lambert, and has a meeting with the ombudsman scheduled later this month.
"I think my story should open their eyes to the fact that it really isn't a clear process, the way that they do this. I think it should be easier to understand."