People didn’t file their tax for many reasons. One could be homelessness or just hardship that is too much to bear.
Here is a real-life story. I call him Joe to conceal his identity. He has been experiencing homelessness in recent years. Now, he is living in a shelter. His caseworker booked an appointment with a non-profit organization to file tax for him. Very good money move.
The volunteer found that he hasn’t filed tax for many years. The CRA record shows that at least 10 years. His tax slips in the past 10 years are still stored on CRA online database. The volunteer filed the missing 10-year tax returns for him. The total tax refund and tax credits are around $8K in total! That is a lot for most people especially for him who is in financial hardship.
Fortunately, he still has a bank account. The caseworker will accompany him to his bank and ask the bank teller to give his bank account information to CRA who can direct deposit the refund and tax credits to his bank account. Otherwise, CRA has to mail cheques to him. Since he doesn’t have permanent address, this can be very challenging. The cheque might not reach him.
The volunteer told me that it is not easy to help those who need help the most. Joe has been through a lot. He can be easily agitated and impatient. He gave up quickly on the first attempt and didn’t want to file the tax return. Luckily the caseworker was there to convince him about the financial benefits and provide missing information.
Perhaps, CRA can make things easier. Just file the tax return for people automatically. CRA has all the tax slips. They can just automatically enter all these information to a software and ask everyone to login CRA MyAccount to add additional information to finish the filing. This might make it much easier for people. For those who don’t use computer or internet, they can get others to help either from friends, family, non-profit organizations or professionals.