When You Owe the CRA Money

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Debts the Canada Revenue Agency collects

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) collects amounts owing such as:

  • individual income tax
  • payroll deductions
  • GST/HST remittances
  • corporation income tax
  • customs, excise, and other levies
  • benefit overpayments including:
    • Canada child benefit
    • GST/HST credit

The CRA also collects the following amounts owed for other government programs:

  • defaulted Canada Student Loans
  • Employment Insurance overpayments and penalties
  • Training Allowances Payment System overpayments
  • Canada Pension Plan overpayments
  • grants and contributions overpayments
  • operations and maintenance receivables
  • other Employment and Social Development Canada program overpayments and/or penalties

If you cannot pay in full now

If you cannot pay the full amount you owe now, take action by contacting the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) right away. Ignoring your debt does not make it go away. In fact, waiting may make any financial or legal consequences more serious.

The CRA may also charge interest compounded daily at the prescribed rate on any amount owing until your balance is paid in full.

The CRA will work with you to resolve your tax debt or other government programs debt. You may qualify for one of the options below that help individuals and businesses meet their payment responsibilities.

You cannot pay your individual tax debt in full now

If you cannot pay your individual tax debt in full now, you may qualify for a payment arrangement or ask for taxpayer relief.

Payment arrangements

A payment arrangement is an agreement you make with the CRA. It allows you to make smaller payments over time until you have paid your entire debt including applicable interest.

Before you make a payment arrangement, you may need to show that you have tried to pay your debt in full by borrowing money or reducing your expenses. To figure out your ability to pay, we may ask you to provide proof of your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. You may have to do this by telephone or by completing a financial questionnaire.

The Payment Arrangement Calculator lets you calculate payment options and it includes the prescribed Canada Revenue Agency interest rates. The Income and Expense Worksheet will help you to calculate your available net income to pay your debt.

If you refuse to pay and to cooperate with the Canada Revenue Agency

In Canada, 9 out of 10 individuals who owe tax pay it on time. It is important that we all pay our share. Taxes pay for health care, childcare, employment insurance, urban and rural infrastructure projects, and other important programs and services.

If you do not pay your debt in full and on time and refuse to cooperate, the CRA has several options to recover the money you owe. These options may result in serious financial or legal consequences for you. Once these proceedings have begun, the CRA will not usually withdraw them until your debt is paid in full or you can show the action is causing you undue hardship.

Note that the CRA may also charge interest compounded daily at the prescribed rate on any amount owing until your balance is paid in full.

The CRA collects tax debt and other government programs debt for individuals and businesses. The CRA may take one or more of the following steps to recover the money you owe.


If you are owed money by any federal government department or agency, the CRA can issue a statutory set-off and use these amounts to reduce your tax debt or other government programs debt.

If you have not filed your return and would like more information on various programs, deductions and credits that can help save you money, contact GB Pilley & Associates Ltd., Chartered Professional Accountants at 604 926 3522.