A 24 year old Marica Peel says she’s spent the last six months trying to prove to the Canada Revenue Agency that she has been separated from her former partner, and the father of her son, for the past three and a half years.
She has spent $700 on lawyer’s fees trying to show Canada Revenue Agency she is a single mother.But she said despite doing everything the agency has asked of her, she’s been told she still owes $4,500 and her child benefit payments have stopped.
Peel said she got a letter from the CRA last spring telling her she was being audited and that the agency wanted proof of her separation to confirm that the child benefit she had been receiving was the right amount. But Peel didn’t have utility bills dating back to the date of separation, nor did her ex-partner.
She said she explained this and the agency told her there was another option: get an official separation agreement, spelling out all the pertinent dates.
“We got that signed by both me and my ex, and by two different lawyers,” Peel said, adding she spent $700 on legal fees. “The CRA told me that that would be enough and then a month later they told me it wasn’t going to work.”
She said, “I am such a small person going against the government, the CRA. How do I do that, how does a person do that?”
The CRA has faced mounting criticism in recent weeks, with critics saying that it targets ordinary Canadians people with diabetes being refused disability tax credits or retail employees threatened with losing their staff discounts.
Canada’s auditor general issued his own scathing report last week, finding that more than half of the 53 million calls the agency received ended with either a busy signal or a pre-recorded message.The report also found that when auditors placed calls to the agency, they got incorrect information from CRA agents 30 per cent of the time.
NDP MP Charlie Angus said the CRA is dealing with a worsening reputation. He said, “They can’t find the billions that are being hid offshore, and yet they’ll go after single moms and deny their kids basic benefits at Christmas time?”
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier said it is false that the CRA goes after ordinary Canadians but leaves the “big fish” alone.