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Wow – this is an intense one.  She’s not a client, but someone I just got to talking to.   She’s on extremely limited income (approx $18K annually) and because she owes CRA from about 10 years ago has to operate outside the banking system!  Every cheque she gets has to go through money mart, which charges $8 per cheque cashed.  When the cheque itself is only for $30, that’s virtually extortion!   My question isn’t so much about money mart ethics as this:  does anyone out there know how long CRA will come after you?  At what point could she safely come inside, so to speak, and stop this craziness?

About the Author


Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com

7 Comments

  1. Hey Nancy,

    I’ll pose the question on my site about the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency). As far as I understand it, there isn’t any statutes of limitations for taxes… I’ll have to clarify that.

    That’s who money mart goes after… people without bank accounts and people who don’t understand money.

    Sometimes banks won’t give bank accounts because people have bad credit or no credit rating.

    [Reply]

    Jul 28, 2007
  2. Hi Nancy,

    I guess I’m wondering why this woman continues to run when there is help available to get her out from under what must be an incredible burden of debt for her. If she feels that she is unable to operate a bank account in order to protect her income, I’m going to suspect that she has also not been filing her income tax returns! If she is self-employed (likely, since Canada Revenue Agency would have record of her employer(s) and could garnish her salary), then I’m concerned that her tax debt is only growing.

    A formal proceeding under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, such as a bankrupty or consumer proposal, would protect this individual from further collection action by Canada Revenue Agency, and give her a fresh start. Any individual in these circumstances should speak with an insolvency professional about their options.

    Cheers,
    Lana

    [Reply]

    Jul 28, 2007
  3. being poor is expensive; there are so many examples of this (not being able to shop at places like superstore because of lack of transportation is another one).

    and yes, declaring bankruptcy would probably be a good idea. most of the time, it’s the feeling around bankruptcy that prevents people from doing that, not any factual barriers. i hope things work out for this person!

    [Reply]

    Aug 03, 2007
  4. Jessica

    Declaring bankruptcy is definitely the best thing. Oh, one other thing, moneymart does not charge $8 on a 30 dollar check, usually they charge 3% on a check that they cash and that would be about 24 cents. The only way they’d take more $$ is if she owed them too. (Trust me I know I’ve dealt with them many times over the years and have owed them too.)

    [Reply]

    Mar 04, 2008
  5. Thanks for the info, Jessica – I wonder if it was actually “moneymart” she used, or if it was another same-sorta-place that charged $8. Or maybe she had a bad reputation with them so had to pay extra. I’ve heard since I originally posted this that there are some places that are ‘better’ (if you could call it that, I guess) than others. Fingers crossed for you that Money Mart becomes x-nay’ed for you as time goes by 🙂

    [Reply]

    Mar 05, 2008
  6. Elsie

    Bankruptcy hurts credit and keeps you in the cycle of poverty. It’s a big black hole, and very difficult to recover from.
    My suggestion would be to call the CRA (or even send a letter if the phone call is too scary) and ask for payment arrangements. Have something in mind to ask for — such as $50 per month (depends on the situation). Talking to the CRA is helpful — in some cases, they can forgive some interest or penalties.
    Then, she could take a look at ways to increase her income by a small amount each month. (Babysit, do someone else’s chores, etc.) Between the increased income and the fees she’s not paying at Money Mart, she’ll have funds to pay something to the CRA.
    NOTE: Don’t miss a payment you’ve scheduled with the government. If you absolutely can’t pay it, call and explain before the due date.
    The people at the CRA are usually just normal people who are happy to help you try to work out payment arrangements. Calling them isn’t a horrible experience. Hiding from them certainly IS.

    [Reply]

    Mar 21, 2008
  7. Elsie

    One last thing — I don’t think the CRA is aware of brand new bank accounts. She might be able to open a new account to use, as long as she doesn’t keep much money in it (and makes payment arrangements with the government).

    [Reply]

    Mar 21, 2008

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