Revenue boss pledges ‘lighter touch’ for NWT tax reviews

The Canada Revenue Agency’s assistant commissioner says his office must do a better job of recognizing the reality northerners face when it comes to tax reviews.

Informal studies suggest around 15 percent of northerners are subject to tax reassessments each year, while some residents claim to have faced a CRA review every year for a decade.

In April, national revenue minister Diane Lebouthillier told the CBC that’s “not normal” and her department would investigate.


Late last week, being questioned in Ottawa by NWT MP Michael McLeod, Lebouthillier said that work is ongoing.

However, also responding to McLeod, CRA assistant commissioner Ted Gallivan acknowledged his agency needed to change its approach.

“We need to be leading with education, with rules clarifications … and then follow up with a lighter touch around substantiation, clarification, maybe prospective treatment,” said Gallivan.

“This isn’t aggressive tax planning. These are people who are trying to access the benefits they are entitled to.”

The national reassessment rate is around 4.6 percent, suggesting residents of the territories currently face around three times the scrutiny applied to Canadians on average.