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Letter: We shouldn’t have to fight for our own money

I am writing to protest the action of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), formerly Revenue Canada.

Many of us, mostly Newfoundlanders, are owed thousands of dollars in Overseas Employee Tax Credit by the Government of Canada for our work at the College of the North Atlantic campus in Qatar. We have been denied our money by CRA for spurious reasons, but we have been supported by court decisions over the past 12 years. In spite of this, CRA has delayed payments, stalled the process and forced us to individually hire lawyers in order to get our money.

One hundred and fifty-three of us got together to face the problem as a group. We hired a Halifax law firm familiar with the issue and applied for a court date. After years of preparing our appeals and waiting, we were granted a court date for July 13, 2016.

Many of us, mostly Newfoundlanders, are owed thousands of dollars in Overseas Employee Tax Credit by the Government of Canada for our work at the College of the North Atlantic campus in Qatar.

CRA then contacted our lawyer and agreed to review our cases with a fairer eye if we stopped our appeal. They promised to complete the reviews in three months. Fair enough. We agreed. When three months passed, CRA then promised us a decision within 16 weeks — in other words, before March 22, 2017. On March 22, they informed us that the decisions would be delayed until April 2017. On May 30, 2017 they needed “several more weeks.” Then another three-month delay to August 2017. On Aug. 24, 2017, we were told of a new delay until Oct. 16, 2017. On Friday, they told our lawyer that the review is now delayed indefinitely.

Behaviour like this would not be accepted from any other agency of public trust. No business, no professional organization would treat its clients in such a manner. Fair play and simple ethics would demand a just reply to such a request for payment, as the courts have pointed out.

CRA’s offense is worse because they are wronging the very citizens whose taxes support and maintain the country we all enjoy. We went overseas and taught our language and way of life to a foreign people. Democracy was new to them. Our college was the first co-ed institution in their country, and they often asked about Canada. We told them that in our country common citizens choose their leaders, and we the taxpayers are the source of all authority, through the ballot box.

CRA has shown itself to be a bully and a brigand with unlimited power to rob and harm. Many of us depended on that money for our retirement, or for benefits for children and grandchildren. Some of our number have sadly passed away over the years, without payment from CRA. What can we do? The courts have supported us, but those wheels grind very slowly. However, in a free country, with a free press, I also have the satisfaction of writing this letter; to call out a knave, as I now call out the CRA.

Shame on you, every one of you, from the federal minister on down, for being part of such an unfair and duplicitous institution.

 

Tom Moore

St. John’s

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