Accountants from across the country are pleading to the federal government for an extension on this year’s tax deadline because the pandemic has stretched resources and added new tax rules.
A change.org petition with more than 75,000 signatures is calling for Canada Revenue Agency to extend the deadline to file from April 30 to June 15. Many signatures are from people who say they are accountants and are physically and mentally exhausted from a year that has been filled with non-stop work and new tax breaks to navigate.
“Small accounting firms have really struggled and been overwhelmed,” income tax consultant Hugh Woolley said. “For the past year with helping their clients prepare a lot of new materials, in addition to the work they were already doing, which includes wage subsidies and rent subsidies so these are taking huge amounts at a time, and they’re very high priority for their clients because they’re really the life line that’s keeping these businesses afloat.
Last year, the federal government extended the tax filing deadline to May 31, but officials have said this year, it will not be the case.
“During April, you know, it’s 18 hour days for most accountants, so you know you add on a little bit of a marginal extra bit of work and if you just can’t meet the deadline,” Woolley said. “I mean we’re always touch and go to the last minute every year. So with this additional workload that’s been there, it’s really impossible to meet these deadlines.”
While Ottawa has said it is not extending the deadline, Quebec has taken a different approach by suspending penalties and interest on tax returns filed after the April 30 deadline for the entire month of May. On the CRA website it states, it is important to file on time if you receive COVID-19 recovery benefits, such as the Canada Recovery Benefit Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit or Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit. Failing to do so could mean your payments could be stopped.
“[Accountants are] very scared their clients are going to be subject to penalties, and they’re very scared that their clients are going to hold them responsible for not getting their information done in time,” Woolley said. “And I think that’s why so many accountants are really really concerned and and and you know it, causing a lot of mental stress and anguish for them.”
Canada Revenue Agency did not return a request for an interview.