Category Archives: 2016 and 2017

CRA gives seniors short shrift

It used to be important to get your annual tax returns in on time. Then it could take up to six weeks to get your Notice of Assessment – to find out if you did your returns correctly and if you owed more or less or were getting a return. Not anymore. Now the CRA is saying to wait eight weeks.

But that’s not correct. A friend of mine who is a senior filed a few days before deadline and she just got her Notice the first week in July – that is one week later than eight weeks.

But my situation is worse. I had to phone the CRA customer service line and did so July 11. Here is my story.

I mailed my tax returns for 2016 on April 28 (our deadline was May 1, 2017 because April 30 was on a weekend). I sent the returns Priority Post with a signature required. They arrived on time and there was a signature. Because I tracked it online I was able to print out the signature before it disappeared at the site a few weeks later. I also had my mailing receipt from the sub-post office. So I had proof of filing on time,

Nothing had arrived in my mailbox and so July 11 I made my phone call. The customer service person was good. She checked and found that the last entry they had for my tax returns was that it had been inventoried as received the third week in May (three weeks after they received it). She suggested she do a Status Enquiry which is basically what it says  and is a reminder that the clerks who are checking the returns better get off their asses and go through the return. She said it could take up to four weeks and then I should get my N. of A. So I authorized her to do so.

Nothing happened for weeks. As the one month deadline approached, I again called the CRA customer service and the fellow there checked the status. My return and notice of assessment would be completed August 11 and then mailed to me.

August 11 is exactly one month after the Status Enquiry went in.

I received my N of A Tuesday, August 15. As I had figured out I owed no money and was getting nothing back – everything in that area is a big fat zero. I was a few dollars out in my calculations. But I am still living below the poverty line.

But the kicker is a lot of the extra seniors’ funds I get from both the federal and provincial government depends on this Notice of Assessment. No Notice of Assessment by mid-July and I don’t receive (if only temporarily): my Ontario Government Energy and property tax monthly grant payment, and from the Federals the quarterly HST/GST tax rebate, my Ontario Government Seniors Grant – a lump sum of $500. you can get once a year if you apply for it, which I did. I also lost the GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement) which with my low income I had become entitled to. And my Ontario Drug Plan for Seniors (provincial) ran out the end of July and I got notice I would have to re-apply because they hadn’t received my Notice of Assessment from the CRA. That was the same reason for the GIS stopping and I have to re-apply. I have re-applied for the drug plan – at least the application time deadline is the end of September. The rest I am supposed to get at some point in time. I still have my meagre Canada Pension Plan money and the actual Old Age Security payments coming in.

In the meantime, excluding the lump sum for seniors and the quarterly GST rebate, since July I have been receiving $500 less a month. Fortunately in July, two editing clients paid me installments for work I am doing so that has carried me over to mid-August. But the bills keep coming in including the big quarterly water and waste utility bill. I am not taking holidays this year – I can’t afford to travel.

Now, I’m living on a few hundred dollars until the next CPP/OAS payment the end of this month – plus all the other money I’m waiting for.

But I’m not holding my breath. In fact, I’m going to exhale all the way down to my federal MP’s office to complain. Clearly the timeline for CRA vis-a-vis seniors payments has to be extended if they can’t get the tax returns processed even within their own timelines.

So, I ask you: is the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) short changing seniors?

What do you think? Please comment.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 2016 and 2017, finances, Old Age pensions, Only child, Seniors

Only Child – that’s a wrap for 2016

My son Martin, his girlfriend Juni and me

My son Martin, his girlfriend Juni and me

2016 may go down as the year many people came to hate, or at least dislike. From friends and family, what I see and read about, and yes, my own experiences, show this to be the case. It wasn’t all bad, so 2016 can’t be completely dissed as other years have (such as 2013 with both a flooded heavy rainstorm and an ice storm in Toronto and surrounding areas. A friend of mine in Toronto had her power go out for days for both storms). But that’s the prognosis in some news reports, even this one which is on the sarcastic side.

We had the best summer this year weather-wise and otherwise. The gardens were gorgeous. And let’s not forget the winter of 2015-2016 – mostly in January to March 2016. Little snow and only a couple of days the end of March with mixed precipitation and yes, some water got in my basement one of those days. This winter it has been too much snow so far, although the rain yesterday got rid of most of it, albeit some places in Toronto were flooded and/or had sewage back up into their basement (yeck). Here, I was lucky, but then I do raise my fist up to the sky to you-know-who. We had freezing rain before that, but I’m not even sure that happened in Toronto because when I woke up it was light rain. Places like Guelph and Kitchener, Ontario did get the freezing rain (for a few hours – all melted when the temperatures rose to 10 Celsius). But kids were skating on the streets of Guelph.

Health hasn’t been good for some of us. I have the tooth problem – the extraction coming up in January. But worst is I lost a close friend, Tanya from next door, to cancer in February. Now, one of my cousins has cancer of the lungs (like Tanya) and bone cancer. And like with Tanya, the damn doctors messed up with a misdiagnos, so treatment started later rather than sooner. I’m glad I got the chance to have dinner with her (and several other cousins) in August when I visited in the area and this cousin sat beside me so we could chat. I hope it is not the last time I see her.

Besides the summer weather and gardens, there have been some good things in my life. My going blind possibility seems to have been stopped thanks to the wonderful ophthalmologist I see on a regular basis and the double-prescription drops she prescribed. I am now officially living below the poverty level, but I now qualify for 100 % coverage with the Ontario Drug Plan for Seniors. Good thing, as the drops cost $72 for a very small container. And who knows what the oral surgeon will prescribe when I get the tooth out.

And my son, Martin and his girlfriend, Juni, I am very thankful for them. We had a wonderful Christmas afternoon and evening together, exchanging presents, chatting and catching up and of course eating (not necessarily in that order), despite the two of them having colds – which Martin warned me about when we talked on the phone before they came over. They were careful when sneezing and did a lot of hand washing.

And Martin is giving me the Mac Laptop I want and need. He has ordered it, so the note with their Christmas card said. It won’t arrive until late January. I will have to pay for some of it to get it as part of my business. But we will work that one out – after the dental crap is over with.

As for 2017, I will go into more detail about that in next week’s post. With dental surgery, the guy who has been shovelling my snow going AWOL (so to speak) from it this year after eight oor nine years of service, and of course, the winter weather and finances, who knows? I will be making many changes throughout 2017 and will try to follow what Martin wrote in their Christmas card.

“Let 2017 begin with optimism and promise.”

And that’s what I wish for all of you, too.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under 2016 and 2017, cancer, Christmas, Gifts, God, Health, Help and Support, Only child, Winter Weather