I was having another good day when I got an email that caused me to drop everything. It was from my neighbour Caroline advising me that I’d received a scary letter from the Canada Revenue Agency regarding my business account. It did sound really bad on paper, but I knew that if I could only just get hold of them, something I’ve been trying to do since I got the initial letter about this issue back to SK in spring of 2017, it would be very quick to resolve.
It is extremely difficult to reach a live person at CRA. It’s generally a game of phone tag. That is made even more difficult and frustrating when the agent only leaves you a toll-free number you can’t call from outside Canada and the US and you only have Mexican phone numbers. So I tend to just work at it when I’m in the mood to do so until the issue absolutely has to be dealt with, unless, of course, I know I’m in the wrong and that delays, even due to no fault of my own, will mean penalties and interest. In this case, I knew that the odds of having any penalties or interest were very close to nil so this just wasn’t a huge priority for me.
Well, today’s letter was the big one, the “If you don’t respond to us right now, we’re going to start seizing assets” warning. It was time to think outside the box because there wasn’t any time left to play phone tag. After a Google search, I tried a couple of direct CRA phone numbers until I found one where I was able, through a phone options maze and a bit of a wait, reach a call centre agent who was then able to transfer me to the agent who had sent the letter. And since that transfer would have looked like an internal call, the actually agent picked up!
I had a pleasant chat with a very pleasant man who took me at my word, was sympathetic to my difficulties in reaching someone (he admitted it’s a common complaint), sent me to a website to e-file some paperwork (shocked that that worked as CRA’s website frequently goes down), and that was that. All told, it was exactly 40 minutes from receiving Caroline’s email to my letting her know everything was sorted. I still can’t believe it took 18 months to get to this point. But with CRA stubbornly refusing to update its contact procedures to get with the times, it is what it is.
I do have to say CRA is more pleasant to deal with than the IRS. Today’s call to CRA and my last communications with the IRS make me even less eager to get in bed with Hacienda here, so I’m glad that, for now, I don’t have to. Dealing with two tax agencies is enough!
Of course my triumph over bureaucracy meant I needed celebratory tacos for dinner. I Whatsapped an order and the situation got quite comical. It’s raining, so deliveries were super slow and the dispatcher was freaking out about it and updating me every few minutes even though I kept telling her that I understood and could wait. My meal eventually showed up and was still piping hot and fresh. I texted to let her know and she thanked me for being such a good customer. I just love my little local taquería — it’s exactly the kind of place I hoped I’d have nearby. It’s not fancy, but the food is good, the staff is friendly, and it’s nice to be able to text a food order on a cold and rainy night and have the restaurant care about the order getting to you in a timely fashion. It’s just another layer of “home.”