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Breaking Down a CRA Notice of Assessment

In essence, a notice of assessment is the Canada Revenue Agency’s response to your tax return. As such, it contains important information that you need to understand to decide if you need to take further action with the CRA.

Two Types of Notices of Assessment

There are two types of notices of assessment. The normal notice of assessment is issued by the CRA a short time after you file your tax return. The usual process is for the CRA to proceed to a cursory review of your tax return. If everything appears to be in order, the CRA issues a notice of assessment.

Later on, your file may be reviewed or your business may be audited. If the CRA finds discrepancies, it can make changes to its original assessment and issue a notice of reassessment. As a rule, the CRA has three years from the date of the first notice to issue a new notice. Note however that this rule has many exceptions, especially in cases where taxes were willfully misrepresented.

Content of the Notice of Assessment

All notices of assessment and reassessment contain the same basic information. In it, you will find your personal information (including your name and your address), technical information about the notice such as its unique identifying number and the tax year it relates to, and, at the bottom, your account summary , which shows whether you must pay an amount or whether the CRA will issue you a refund.

The most important section is in the center of the page, which shows the actual assessment of your return by the CRA. That is where you can find detailed explanations of any changes that the CRA has made following its review of your tax returns or its audit of your business. It is important to understand these changes and the impact that they have on your taxes.

The Next Steps

If the notice is in line with your tax return, or if you agree with the changes that the CRA has made, then there is nothing left for you to do except to pay whatever balance you owe or wait for your refund, whichever is indicated on the notice.

However, if you disagree with the notice of assessment or reassessment, you must act quickly. You have 90 days from the date of the notice to file a notice of objection to get the CRA to review your file.

Lost or Misplaced Notice

If you are looking for a copy of a notice of assessment and cannot find it, go online and use the CRA’s My Account platform to view and print your notices of assessment and reassessment that were issued after Feb. 9, 2015. You can also view and print detailed summaries of notices of assessment or reassessment that were issued between 2004 and Feb. 9, 2015.

References & Resources

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