Canada Revenue Agency closes its doors in Yukon’s capital

Today is the last day the Canadian Revenue Agency's Whitehorse office will be open. That doesn't mean you won't have to pay your taxes anymore, but it does mean you will no longer have an agent to talk to when filing.

Today is the last day the Canadian Revenue Agency’s Whitehorse office will be open.

That doesn’t mean you won’t have to pay your taxes anymore, but it does mean you will no longer have an agent to talk to when filing, or asking questions about, your taxes in the years to come.

It will also mean you’ll have to be prepared earlier when filing your taxes, and the whole process will take much longer, said Carol Church, the owner and operator of the city’s H&R Block.

The consequences of this office closing are huge, she said. People, especially low-income, less-educated, seniors, young families and business people all use that office on a regular basis, to do many different things, she said.

It’s also going to make life a lot tougher for bookkeepers.

At tax time, Church’s staff will walk into that office with 15 to 20 clients’ payments each day.

“After the end of this week, we’ll only be able to do that through a bank and we’ll have to have a proper remittance form. If you don’t have that proper remittance form then you have to order them, which will take three weeks.”

The other option is to go online, she said.

“The problem with that is bookkeepers can’t do that for people. So now you’re stopping the trades people,” she said. “All our clients have to now stop what they’re doing, get online, sign up for all these accounts and make a payment themselves, which is sort of defeating the purpose of having a bookkeeper. Or, if bookkeepers are starting to be given bank account information, then across the country you’re going to start seeing bookkeepers fraudulently taking people’s money, so clients are not going to want to voluntarily turn their bank account information over.”

Yukoners will also have to wait longer to collect their money, if they’re expecting a tax return.

Right now, places like H&R Block send clients over to the office at the Elijah Smith Building on Main Street to find out how much is owed before writing out cheques.

“We won’t be able to do that locally,” said Church. “So we’ll have to phone, which means I have to get more staff, more phones and do less returns in the same amount of time.”

The federal office also covers the cost of shipping the territory’s returns down to B.C. That is another cost Church will now have to absorb.

“So that office shutting down so far has affected the bookkeepers, it’s affected tax preparations, it’s affected the clients, and the end result,” she said.

“And I’m absorbing the cost of all that. Overall, I think it’s going to be literally thousands because, again, we’re going to be doing less returns in a day because we’ll have to spend more time with each one. Right now, if they’re missing a slip, we can send them over there, in three minutes, they get their slip, they come back and we finish up. But now we’ll have to phone and wait three weeks for it to arrive.”

People in the communities will really suffer because they’ll have to worry about travel time as well as delivery time from down south, said Church.

“It’s really hard to comply when the government’s not co-operating,” she said.

This will result in a cost for the government too because they’ll have to hire more collectors and phone operators, added Church.

Reasons for the closure are largely based on numbers.

“The way that Canadians file their taxes is changing,” said Noel Carisse with the Public Affars Branch. “CRA is changing to meet those needs. In-person discussions between the Agency and Canadians only accounted for 2.5 per cent of all interactions last year. Canadians can visit their local Service Canada location for assistance, and the CRA will provide in-person meetings when issues cannot be resolved on the phone.”

Plus, in the grand scheme of things, the territory is also a pretty small number, according to Yukon MP Ryan Leef’s Ottawa Office.

“Unfortunately, I think what happens is that the Yukon is looked at in terms of population,” said Kay Richler, Leef’s executive assistant in Ottawa. Leef was unavailable before press time, as he was flying to Whitehorse. “But at the same time, it’s a capital city and when it comes to Yukoners – where do they go?”

The majority of CRA offices are being closed across the country, including in cities double the size of Whitehorse, added Richter.

A meeting between Leef and Minister of National Revenue Gail Shea is scheduled for next week, she said. The plan is to find out all the information, and then talk about possible solutions, said Richter.

After that meeting, Leef is planning to hold a public meeting in Whitehorse, she added.

There are already more than 700 signatures on Church’s petition to keep the Whitehorse office open. She’s also written letters to more than 140 MPs and has tried to speak with Leef directly, she said. Leef suggested she collect more than 10,000 signatures, she said, adding that there are only about 17,000 tax filers in the territory. Church also encourages people to call Leef themselves. Her next step is to speak with Yukon Senator Dan Lang and Shea.

“I don’t think that we should give up,” she said. “I think we need to push this and keep this office. We’re a capital city and we deserve to have a tax office presence.”

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A proposed Official Community Plan amendment would designate a 56.3-hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. Whitehorse city council will vote on the second reading of the Official Community Plan amendment on Dec. 7. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
Future area of Whistle Bend considered by council

Members set to vote on second reading for OCP change

The City of Whitehorse’s projected deficit could be $100,000 more than originally predicted earlier this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City deficit could be just over $640,000 this year

Third quarter financial reports presented to council

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks during a COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse on Oct. 30. Masks became mandatory in the Yukon for anyone five years old and older as of Dec. 1 while in public spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
As mask law comes into effect, premier says $500 fines will be last resort

The territory currently has 17 active cases of COVID-19

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Ranj Pillai, minister of economic development, during a press conference on April 1.
Government rejects ATAC mining road proposal north of Keno City

Concerns from the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun were cited as the main reason for the decision

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Dec. 2, 2020

The new Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation council elected Dec. 1. (Submitted)
Little Salmon Carmacks elects new chief, council

Nicole Tom elected chief of Little Salmon Carcmacks First Nation

Submitted/Yukon News file
Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to the unsolved homicide of Allan Donald Waugh, 69, who was found deceased in his house on May 30, 2014.
Yukon RCMP investigating unsolved Allan Waugh homicide

Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to an unsolved… Continue reading

A jogger runs along Millenium Trail as the sun rises over the trees around 11 a.m. in Whitehorse on Dec. 12, 2018. The City of Whitehorse could soon have a new trail plan in place to serve as a guide in managing the more than 233 kilometres of trails the city manages. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
2020 trail plan comes forward

Policies and bylaws would look at e-mobility devices

Snow-making machines are pushed and pulled uphill at Mount Sima in 2015. The ski hill will be converting snow-making to electric power with more than $5 million in funding from the territorial and federal governments. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mount Sima funded to cut diesel reliance

Mount Sima ski hill is converting its snowmaking to electric power with… Continue reading

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read