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Most taxpayers would 'suffer' in CRA strike situation

Thousands of Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) employees could be in a position to strike after recently rejecting their employer’s latest contract offer — a move that would likely cause more problems than advantages for taxpayers, Toronto tax attorney David J. Rotfleisch tells AdvocateDaily.com.

As the Ottawa Citizen reports, a recent ratification vote held by the Union of Taxation Employees (UTE) drew more than 16,000 members, who cast ballots on whether to reject or accept the CRA’s last offer.

The Citizen notes the CRA’s offer would force employees to accept the same yet-to-be-negotiated raises as other public service employees. However, the union did not want to give up severance pay without being compensated. The article says the union estimates severance is worth a two-per-cent-a-year increase, rather than the .75 per cent offered.

According to the article, CRA workers have been offered raises of 1.75 per cent retroactive to November 2012, followed by a two-per-cent raise for 2013 and the amount the Public Service Alliance of Canada negotiates for 2014 and 2015.

The union’s leadership recommended members reject the offer — and more than half reportedly did. As the CBC reports, the two sides are set to resume negotiations on Aug. 8.

As Rotfleisch, founding tax lawyer at Rotfleisch & Samulovitch Professional Corporation, explains, while a strike may prove advantageous for some taxpayers, it would be problematic for most Canadians.

“If CRA employees go on strike, the benefit will be to taxpayers who owe money and are dealing with collections officers who have not yet started enforcement actions,” he says.

“However, everyone else will suffer. Tax debt continues to accrue interest. Enforcement actions in place, such as garnishees or bank account freezes will stay in place even if payments have been made. Presumably management will be available to deal with this issues, but there will be a large backlog and delays,” adds Rotfleisch.

“Appeals are already very backlogged and will fall even further behind.”

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