Deadline for application could not be ignored on grounds of fairness, even if fault lay with CRA

Tax – Income tax – Administration and enforcement

Minister reassessed taxpayer under Income Tax Act. Taxpayer filed Notice of Objection, after being granted extension of time to object. CRA confirmed reassessments in Notice of Confirmation but taxpayer also received, days after date of Notice of Confirmation, letter from CRA advising that Notice of Objection had been received and that she would be contacted when her objection had been assigned. In May 2019, taxpayer applied for extension of time to appeal. Application dismissed. Based on date in Notice of Confirmation, taxpayer had until Oct. 4, 2017 to file Notice of Appeal. Pursuant to s. 167(5) of Act, taxpayer had one year after that date to file application for extension time and she did not comply with this condition. Tax Court of Canada was statutory court and had no jurisdiction to grant extension of time if application was filed beyond that deadline. Tax Court was not equitable court and had no power to address unfairness. Taxpayer received misleading and unexplained correspondence from CRA that she understood to mean that Notice of Appeal did not need to be filed since Minister was still reviewing Notice of Objection. Precedents established that deadline for making application could not be ignored on grounds of fairness, even if fault lay with CRA. Given clear and unambiguous wording of Act, there was no discretion to find in favour of taxpayer. Language of s. 167(5)(a) of Act did not allow Tax Court to conclude that time stopped running because taxpayer was under impression that CRA would contact her when her Objection was assigned.

Dutka v. The Queen (2020), 2020 CarswellNat 217, 2020 TCC 21, Ronald MacPhee J. (T.C.C.).

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