CRA Has Frozen Your Bank Account. What To Do.

Category: Personal Bankruptcy (23) comments

cra frozen bank accountYou’ve discovered that the Canada Revenue Agency has obtained a court order to seize your assets in payment of overdue taxes and the first step they took was to freeze your bank account. In most cases, CRA freezes your bank account for one simple reason: to get your attention. In my experience as a bankruptcy trustee in Canada, it’s not the amount of money that you owe Revenue Canada that will cause them to freeze your bank account. It’s more likely that you have ignored previous demands to pay, have not filed your taxes for one or more years, or you are not co-operating with CRA, and they believe they need to get your attention.

How To Deal With CRA Once Your Account Is Frozen

The key is to act quickly.  If you continue to ignore CRA demands, they will likely seize your other assets perhaps putting a lien on your home or issuing a wage garnishment. Here are 4 steps to take if your account has been frozen:

  1. Open a new bank account at a new bank (where you don’t owe any money). It is always prudent to have a “back up” account in the event that any creditor attempts to seize or freeze your account. It is possible that CRA has notified all banks, so initially it may not be wise to deposit money in this account, but you should open it now in the event that the steps listed below are not successful.
  2. Call CRA. Talk to the collector and determine why they have frozen your bank account, and ask what you can do to have it un-frozen. If the issue is missing tax returns, CRA may agree to release your bank account if you agree to file the missing returns within the next week. If you owe money, they may agree to a payment plan in return for un-freezing your bank account.
  3. Determine what you can afford to pay. As a general rule, CRA will only consider a payment plan with you if you have exhausted all other options available for raising money including borrowing and selling off assets. In addition, they usually require you to commit to paying all of your tax arrears within the next year.  If you need more than a year, they probably won’t work with you, which leads to the final step.
  4. If you don’t think you can pay back your outstanding tax arrears within the time required by CRA, you may need to file a consumer proposal or personal bankruptcy. Both a proposal and a bankruptcy are legal processes that allow your consumer proposal administrator or bankruptcy trustee to issue a “stay of proceedings” to both CRA and the bank to un-freeze your account. (Since it may take a period of time for the bank to respond, an alternate bank account is suggested, as noted in the first point above).

Once you have filed your proposal or bankruptcy it is essential that you have a plan in place to file and pay all future taxes owing. We strongly suggest that you meet with a licensed bankruptcy trustee to review these options in detail.

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  1. Jane M

    Would a personal bankruptcy be an option if the CRA has frozen your account for other owed money not related to taxes? The have frozen mine due to a defaulted student loan that had been turned over to them. They would not work with me regarding payments that I could actually afford and so I ignored them and got into this mess. I just really want to start fresh!

      1. kumar b

        CRA took $20,000 from my personal savings account. How was that possible? Is that allowed by law? Which particular law?
        I did not receive any court order. I am late with taxes due to both my children succumb to schizophrenia in the last few years. What are my options? I have been paying taxes for 23 years. I would usually be 3 years late and then paid penalties and interest. This time it was 5 years late due to health issues with my children

  2. michele

    my father has had his account frozen due to a ministry of finance bill. long story short ,, he was driving someone who was purchasing untaxed cigarettes. is there an optiion to have this bill declared on bankruptcy . Its rather large. over $14,000

    1. J. Douglas Hoyes Post author

      Theoretically, yes, although that would be an unusual step for them to take. It is much more common for them to seize funds in a bank account, since that’s a much simpler process for them.

    1. J. Douglas Hoyes Post author

      If the account is at a credit union in the United States, it is difficult but not impossible for CRA to freeze it. If it’s a US Dollar account at a credit union in Canada, then it is relatively simple for CRA to freeze it. A licensed insolvency trustee can review your specific situation and explain in more detail.

    1. J. Douglas Hoyes Post author

      If you have funds in a frozen account, you won’t be able to use those funds to repay other debt. If you have other funds not in the frozen account you can use them as you wish, but you should talk to the bank first to make sure that whatever money you apply to cover your other debts isn’t also taken.

  3. Gerrit

    So here I am I wished to open negotiations with one of QRevenu Agent.
    Last I tried was to talk with the higher manager of this situation.. Never had any recalls just one more letter stipulating a seizure of my assets and bank account
    What should I do now? amount is 10,500 plus interest as they never would stop the machine as they quoted.. Untill all is pain in full
    Now I see my work place has been also advised..
    What atre my legal rights?
    Thanks.. Head is full of noises.

    1. J. Douglas Hoyes Post author

      Hi Gerrit. I strongly recommend that you contact a licensed insolvency trustee. If they have contacted your work they are in position to garnishee your wages, and that can only be stopped by you paying them in full, or by filing a consumer proposal or bankruptcy, so it’s important for you to act quickly.

  4. Ivy

    Hello my husband owes 7000 to the CRA. We are not financially capable of making such payment. The collector had given him a few(3times) to make a payment and was not able to do so. At a time he requested for payment installments but she didnt agree to it. They freeze his bank account as of yesterday. His name is on his parents mortgage. Need help because his bills payment come out from the account. Should he call and speak to her to start monthly payments?

    1. J. Douglas Hoyes Post author

      Hi Ivy. Yes, the first step would be to call CRA and see if they will unfreeze the bank account so that your husband can start making payments. If they won’t agree to that, or if he doesn’t have the money to make the payments, the next step would be to talk to a licensed insolvency trustee to see if a more formal option is necessary.

      1. Annette

        Revenue Canada has frozen my husband’s bank account, He is self employed, and owes taxes every year, of course, he is not incorporated which makes things harder for us at tax time. We owe $26,000, we had previously owed over $30,000 after we filed our taxes for 2017, but we have been making payments, our last payment of $1000 was made in December of 2018. We missed paying for January & February b/c of money owed to him, that didn’t come in. They froze his account last Friday, there was no phone call or letter. He had to track the previous government employee down that he usually dealt with, and she no longer worked there, they transferred him to a Government employee in Manitoba. He tried to work out a payment plan with her, but she would’nt hear of it, and proceeded to ask him how we could afford to have 2 vehicles if we can’t pay our income tax, and wants copies of all our bank statements and our expenses every month….I don’t know why we have to send her all that if the tax has to be paid in full anyway….I am not sending that, we have enough stress as it is, I never heard of that unless it was an Audit. Anyway what can we do?

        1. J. Douglas Hoyes Post author

          Hi Annette. Contact a Licensed Insolvency Trustee immediately. If you can’t convince CRA to un-freeze the account, it may be necessary to do something more formal to deal with this issue. CRA has the power to freeze bank accounts without a court order, so the sooner you contact and LIT the sooner your husband can make a plan to deal with CRA.

  5. Meedo

    Hello sir .
    My bank just called me to notify me that CRA has frozen my account . They told i owe $40,000.
    I am 9 years behind of my income tax .
    What are my options?
    Is bankruptcy a solution not to pay .
    I don’t believe I do owe them that much .
    Please advise .
    Thank you

    1. Ted Michalos

      A general word to everyone reading this blog – it is NOT illegal not to pay your taxes. It is illegal not to file. CRA takes a very dim view of people that do not file as required by law…

      To answer your question, if you file for bankruptcy your bank account will be unfrozen. If there is any money still in the account at that time CRA will no longer have the right to take it. Unfortunately, any money CRA has already taken from the account can’t be recovered. In addition, if you file for bankruptcy your unpaid taxes will be included (eliminated) in the bankruptcy.

      If you actually file all of the outstanding tax returns CRA may very well re-assess those years based on the new information and possibly reduce the amount you owe. Right now, CRA has simply exercised their right to arbitrarily assess how much you owe for any year you haven’t filed a return. CRA almost always guesses a high number in the hopes you will actually file your return…

      It will be worth your time to contact a licenced insolvency trustee to at least discuss you options…

  6. Michael

    I was contacted by letter from CRA as the director of a company that ceased operations April 23, 2014. In July of the same year the Corporation was sued by a supplier and a default judgment rendered against the corporation. Subsequently the corporate bank account was seized 1 week prior to the final GST filing. The final GST was filed, the CRA notified of the seizure of accounts, the court was notified of the debt to CRA for final GST owing.
    Here I am almost 5 years later receiving a demand notice for over $13,000 with no notifications over the past 4 years and 11 months until this one of any balance owing.
    In September 2016, I filed a personal consumer proposal and am still making payments under that arrangement. What should I do?

    1. Ted Michalos

      Contact your trustee – if the CRA debt predates the date you filed your proposal then CRA should be Stayed (prohibited) from taking collection actions against you. Did you ever resign as a Director of the corporation? Normally CRA has 2 years from the date a corporation ceases to operate to raise Directors’ Liability. If the corp was never properly closed, if it did not file final HST returns and de-register, CRA may take the position that the corp didn’t actually cease to operate and that is why they are finally taking action now.

      Alternatively, you may speak to a lawyer, but I would start with the trustee administering your proposal.


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