A Saskatchewan couple has two boys, four car seats and a nanny but they’re being asked by the Canada Revenue Agency to prove that their children exist — again.
Devin Dubois and his wife got a letter telling them to prove that they have children or their child benefits would be cut off. But Dubois says the CRA has the information in its possession because the couple got the same letter in 2014.
“It’s not that there’s anything new in our 2015 tax returns. These are the same two kids that we’ve always claimed. I don’t know what the CRA thinks has happened between now and then,” said Dubois.
“I don’t know what more proof positive we really could provide.”
Dubois says in 2014 he provided proof of their Canadian citizenship, social insurance numbers, child-care receipts and property tax details.
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He also sent notarized copies of his driver’s licence, law society membership and Costco membership. There was also a lengthy letter, with a touch of sarcasm.
“If our kids haven’t existed for the past three and a half years, why the hell are we so tired? And why are we consistently doing laundry, why is our house a disaster and why are there raisins and Pepperidge Farms goldfish ground into our carpets, car-seats and couches?,” he wrote.
The documentation was accepted by the government.
That’s why the Saskatoon dad says it’s “absolutely ridiculous” for the CRA to ask for the information again.
“They actually have this information, so to send a letter saying benefits and the tax credits you requested won’t be granted unless you prove all of this, this is my problem with it, is that it’s silly and it’s flippant and it’s not necessary,” he said.
The revenue agency says on its website that people must reply to the letter or their child and family benefits could be terminated and they might have to repay benefits already received.
Regina resident Colleen Book got the same letter last fall, but a delay in mail delivery left her with just a couple of weeks to gather information or risk having benefits cut off.
“I ran around. I had to go to city hall to get our property tax information. I had to go to the daycare and ask them to write this lengthy letter saying that our daughter was ours and that she lived with us and then I ended up spending $14, $15 to send it overnight to make sure I hit their deadline,” said Book, who was pregnant with her second child at the time.
“I was annoyed, obviously.”
Like Dubois, Book also sent a letter to the CRA voicing her frustration. She says she asked how they choose people to audit and why the CRA was asking for specific details.
Book also says “the tone of their letter was insulting.”
“I’m not a scofflaw. I’m not someone who has lied to the CRA before. So to send me an accusatory letter demanding this information within a very short time period, without any justification or cause, was just totally unacceptable in my mind,” said Book.
“I totally understand why they would need to do this kind of review, but I think if they’re going to be demanding this information, they should be a little bit more accessible to answer questions and they should be a little bit more up front about why they’re asking for this.”
A call to Canada Revenue Agency’s media relations for comment was not immediately returned Monday.
In the meantime, Dubois says he’s drafting another letter to the agency.
“But I’m a little more perturbed even than I was before because it seems to me that this is really a colossal waste of time and resources, not just for the people who are having to deal with it, but also for the CRA.”Report Typo/Error