Due to COVID, the CRA is further extending the deadlines for making tax payments, paying interest and for filing returns:
Payment deadline extension
The CRA is extending the payment due date for current year individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns, including instalment payments, from September 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020.
Penalties and interest will not be charged if payments are made by the extended deadline of September 30, 2020. This includes the late-filing penalty as long as the return is filed by September 30, 2020.
Interest on Existing Tax Debt
The CRA is also waiving interest on existing tax debts related to individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns from April 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020 and from April 1, 2020, to June 30, 2020, for goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) returns. While this measure for existing tax debts does not cancel penalties and interest already assessed on a taxpayer’s account prior to this period, it ensures that a taxpayer’s existing tax debt does not continue to grow through interest charges during this difficult time. This measure provides immediate relief to impacted taxpayers.
The previously extended filing due dates for individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns remain unchanged. However, recognizing the difficult circumstances faced by Canadians, the CRA will not impose late-filing penalties where a current year individual, corporation, or trust return is filed late provided that it is filed by September 30, 2020.
The CRA encourages everyone to file their individual, corporate and trust returns as soon as possible, even though payment deadlines are being extended. This is particularly important for individuals receiving credits and benefits, such as the Canada Child Benefit.
To ensure Canadians continue to receive their benefits and credits during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CRA temporarily suspended interruptions for those who were unable to file their income tax and benefit return by the June 1 deadline. Currently, if a 2019 individual tax return has not been assessed, the CRA is calculating benefits and/or credits for the July to September 2020 payments based on information from 2018 tax returns. However, if 2019 individual tax returns are not received and assessed by early September 2020, estimated benefits and/or credits will stop in October 2020 and individuals may have to repay the amounts that were issued as of July 2020.
The CRA has helpful information and a step-by-step guide to help Canadians complete their taxes. The CRA tax processing system is fully operational and returns are being processed quickly to support Canadians in getting their refunds and ensuring continuity of their benefits.
In Ontario, unlike any other jurisdiction to my knowledge, we’ve made the act of saying “sorry” part of our legal system, for which there are legal ramifications, both for saying it and for not saying it.
In fact, we’ve made it legislation; namely, Ontario’s “Apology Act” (the “Act”).
This is uniquely an Ontario-only legal initiative.
Before the Act, if an apology were made, such as in a defamation case, that apology could be used against the alleged defamer in Court, including to prove the defamation itself and the harm it must have caused.
Now, an “apology” is legally defined as “an expression of sympathy or regret” and not “an admission of fault or liability in connection with the matter to which the words or actions relate.”
Before the Act was passed, an “apology” statement could technically be construed as an admission of your guilt or wrongdoing.
The Act is great Ontario law, because now we can say “sorry” without fear, legally speaking.
In fact, in a defamation case, for example, making an apology often impacts the legal case, or least may reduce the damages awarded by the Court.
Making an apology impacts other types of cases, too, legally, so there is always advantage in considering making an apology and, if so, the maker need not be worried that it would legally be held against he or she – it can only help.
The Act is fairly short and straightforward – the key parts are highlighted below.
“apology” means an expression of sympathy or regret, a statement that a person is sorry or any other words or actions indicating contrition or commiseration, whether or not the words or actions admit fault or liability or imply an admission of fault or liability in connection with the matter to which the words or actions relate. 2009, c. 3, s. 1.
Effect of apology on liability
2. (1) An apology made by or on behalf of a person in connection with any matter,
(a) does not, in law, constitute an express or implied admission of fault or liability by the person in connection with that matter;
(b) does not, despite any wording to the contrary in any contract of insurance or indemnity and despite any other Act or law, void, impair or otherwise affect any insurance or indemnity coverage for any person in connection with that matter; and
(c) shall not be taken into account in any determination of fault or liability in connection with that matter. 2009, c. 3, s. 2 (1).
(2) Clauses (1) (a) and (c) do not apply for the purposes of proceedings under the Provincial Offences Act. 2009, c. 3, s. 2 (2).
Evidence of apology not admissible
(3) Despite any other Act or law, evidence of an apology made by or on behalf of a person in connection with any matter is not admissible in any civil proceeding, administrative proceeding or arbitration as evidence of the fault or liability of any person in connection with that matter. 2009, c. 3, s. 2 (3).
(4) However, if a person makes an apology while testifying at a civil proceeding, including while testifying at an out of court examination in the context of the civil proceeding, at an administrative proceeding or at an arbitration, this section does not apply to the apology for the purposes of that proceeding or arbitration. 2009, c. 3, s. 2 (4).
Criminal or provincial offence proceeding or conviction
The Ontario has announced a new $5.7-million in funding to help small businesses reach more customers, create and enhance their online presence, and generate jobs through an online platform called the "Digital Main Street".
It is intended to help up to 22,900 Ontario businesses create and enhance their online presence and generate jobs for more than 1,400 students.
Through the $57-million contribution to the Digital Main Street platform, businesses will be able to take advantage of three new programs to support their digital transformation:
shopHEREpowered by Google, intended to leverage Ontario's strengths by hiring highly skilled and trained students to build and support the launch of online stores for businesses that previously did not have the capacity to do so themselves. The core goal will be to help small businesses compete and grow, in a world that is increasingly online, and help them recover as quickly as possible following COVID-19.
Digital Main StreetGrant will help main street small businesses be digitally more effective. Through a $2,500 grant administered by the Ontario BIA Association, small businesses will be able to adopt new technologies and embrace digital marketing. Municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, and Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) can apply for a Digital Service Squad grant, which will allow them to establish teams to provide personalized, one-on-one support.
Future-Proofing Main Street will provide specialized and in-depth digital transformation services and support that helps existing main-street firms adapt to changes in their sector and thrive in the new economy. By leveraging teams of digital marketing professionals and talented students, these firms will be able to create new online business models, develop and implement digital and e-commerce marketing strategies, and maximize digital tools, platforms and content.
In addition, the Recovery Activation Program, operated through the Toronto Region Board of Trade, will help businesses grow and digitize their operations with custom consulting sessions, online resource sharing, learning webcasts and business planning. As a result of the investment announced today, the program will be offered province-wide and at no cost to businesses.
About 60 percent of Ontario's small enterprises have a website, and only seven percent have an online payment solution. Digitally, Canadian businesses are estimated to be two years behind their U.S. counterparts.
Along with the Digital Main Street platform, the province is investing an additional $150 million in rural broadband which will help open the digital road for many Ontario small businesses.
In addition, the province has proposed a ban on commercial evictions to help businesses that have been impacted by restrictions due to COVID-19.
What if you learn that someone has reported a debt against you that is wrong or is being disputed by you?
Since your credit rating and your ability to secure credit may be significantly compromised, you wish to challenge the reporting but what is the recourse.
Collection agencies in Ontario are governed by the Collections Agencies Act and the Consumer Reporting Act. Both statutes govern the conduct of a collection agency and set out a list of prohibited practices and methods for the collection of the debt.
Can a breach of these statutes give rise to an action against the collection agency for damages? In the case of Haskett v. Equifax Canada Inc. in 2003, the Court of Appeal permitted a civil action to proceed against a collection agency for “improperly and illegally including information” in the proposed Plaintiff’s credit report which they were not entitled to report, and which was inaccurate. While this action did not proceed to trial, a number of cases since then have awarded damages for breach of a statutory duty owed by the collection agency to the consumer about whom it reports.
A credit agency is entitled under the Consumer Reporting Act to distribute a credit report concerning your financial dealings as reported to it. The collection agency does not create the credit information but relies on its members to provide accurate information. The duty imposed on the agency is not to guarantee the accuracy of the information but rather to set up reasonable procedures to investigate disputes.
In order to satisfy its duty of care with respect to the receipt of a complaint from the consumer as to its accuracy this agency must within a reasonable period of time:
Ensure that the date in the database came from an approved member who has been appropriately screened;
Ensure that there are no obvious errors on the face of the information in the data base;
Contact the member for verification of the accuracy of the data;
Accurately and specifically describe the problem raised by the consumer to the member;
Insist upon prompt and complete reply from the member.
In the case of Spencer v. Equifax Canada Inc. the Court did not find on the evidence any breach of duty when it accepted the evidence for reporting or in its subsequent duty to investigate upon hearing the complaint of the consumer.
However, it was pointed out in the evidence that Equifax had adapted a policy of offering to the complainant the opportunity to provide a consumer statement of his own in which he could dispute or explain the basis on which he disputed the claim. Thereafter any credit report distributed by Equifax would have attached to it this dispute/explanation. A consumer should therefore insist on the inclusion of a dispute statement in these circumstances.
While not a complete resolution, failure to avail yourself of this alternative would be considered a failure to mitigate one’s damages in cases where a breach of duty did lead to damages.