I'm not dead yet: Revenue Canada tells P.E.I. man he died in June

A Prince Edward Island man was shocked earlier this month to learn the Canada Revenue Agency considered him to be a dead man.

'How long is it going to take to prove that I'm actually alive?'

Joe Gallant has travel plans, but needs to be sure the government considers him fully alive first. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

A Prince Edward Island man was shocked earlier this month to learn the Canada Revenue Agency considered him dead.

Joe Gallant learned of the error when he returned to his Summerside home from work and collected his mail. In the pile was a letter addressed to the estate of the late Joseph Gallant.

"Once I opened the letter and saw that it was my name, my Social Insurance Number, my birthday, then I immediately called the phone numbers that were on the paper," said Gallant.

"When I realized that it was actually me that they believed passed away, I had a little meltdown."

'I was thinking, how long is it going to take to prove that I'm actually alive?' Gallant says. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The mix-up had immediate financial consequences. The letter was demanding the return of GST and family allowance payments for July, because as far as CRA was concerned, Gallant didn't deserve them: he'd been dead since June.

The phone call did not immediately sort the matter out, so he visited his local MP's office, and they took on the case.

"I was thinking, how long is it going to take to prove that I'm actually alive?" he said.

Error rate of 0.06%

In an email to CBC News, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) said that occasionally, individuals are incorrectly declared dead.

"The individuals who were erroneously declared deceased by the CRA for the calendar years 2016 and 2017 represent an error rate of 0.06 per cent of the total dates of death reported to the CRA," it said.

The CRA said the root of the error can vary, but the majority of errors originate when a return is filed on behalf of a deceased person and the incorrect SIN is provided.  

"In cases where it is determined that an error has been made, the process is to simply remove the date of death from the taxpayer's file and the taxpayer's CRA account is restored."

No international travel

Gallant was told this has happened before. He has been getting regular updates from the MP's office.

"Right now, from what I understand, with the CRA I am proven to be alive again, and as far as I know I'll be entitled to my taxes again," he said.

He is still not entirely alive, however. He has been told not to travel outside of Canada. If he does, records of his death could flag his passport as being stolen, and his attempt to return to Canada could be treated as a case of identity theft.

Gallant is planning trips to Boston and Spain. He is hopeful that everything will be sorted out before his departure date.

This has happened before:

With files from Brian Higgins