When the CRA calls

By Andrew Rickard | February 04 2016 01:29PM

Is the person on the other end of the phone really from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)? The tax authorities have published a guide to help Canadians determine if a call is legitimate.

The CRA says that it may well need to contact taxpayers by telephone. When this happens, the CRA officer is required to validate the taxpayer's identity and will ask for certain personal information such as one’s date of birth and address. In the case of a business account, the officer may ask for other specific details.

"The CRA officials will act with professionalism and will not be aggressive or make threats," reads the bulletin. In particular, the CRA says its employees will not:

  • ask for information about your passport, health card, or driver's licence
  • request personal information by email
  • email you a link requesting you fill in an online form with personal or financial details
  • send you a link to your refund by email or text message
  • set up an in-person meeting in a public place to take a payment
  • demand immediate payment by prepaid credit card
  • threaten with immediate arrest or prison sentence

Before offering any information or handing over funds, the CRA says that Canadians may 

verify the call by noting the officer's name, phone number, and office location. The taxpayer may then check to see if the person works for the CRA by calling the CRA at 1-800-959-8281 for individuals or 1-800-959-5525 for business.

The full list of tips, which includes examples of things that a CRA officer may ask for over the phone, is available on the CRA web site.