Taxpayer relief provisions

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The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) administers legislation that gives the Minister of National Revenue discretion to:

  • cancel or waive penalties or interest
  • accept certain late, amended, or revoked elections (income tax only)
  • refund or reduce the amount payable beyond the normal three-year period (individuals and testamentary trusts only)

This legislation is commonly called the taxpayer relief provisions.

Cancel or waive penalties or interest

The Minister may grant relief from penalty or interest when the following types of situations prevent a taxpayer from meeting their tax obligations:

  • extraordinary circumstances;
  • actions of the CRA;
  • inability to pay or financial hardship;
  • other circumstances

For more information about the circumstances that may warrant relief from penalties or interest, see Cancel or waive penalties or interest. To submit your request for relief, we recommend you use Form RC4288, Request for Taxpayer Relief - Cancel or Waive Penalties or Interest.

Late, amended, or revoked elections

The Income Tax Act and its Regulations contain many election provisions that give you the opportunity to decide on an alternative tax treatment in conducting your financial affairs for income tax purposes. Most election provisions do not:

  • permit you to file an election once the due date for making the election is missed; or
  • give you the ability to modify or cancel an original election that was filed on time.

For details about the income tax elections that can be filed late, amended, or revoked, and how to send your request, see Late, amended, or revoked elections.

Refund or reduce the amount payable beyond the normal three-year period

For individuals (other than a trust) and testamentary trusts, the Income Tax Act sets a three-year limitation period from the:

  • end of the tax year to file an income tax return to claim a tax refund;
  • date of the original Notice of Assessment to request an adjustment to an assessment issued for a previous tax year.

To get more information about filing an income tax return to claim a refund or requesting an adjustment to a return beyond the normal three-year period, see Refund or reduce the amount payable beyond the normal three-year period.


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