Tax basics: The Canada Revenue Agency - West Neighbourhood House

what does the cra really do?

The CRA is not just a tax agency. It’s also how you apply for benefits.

It is also the only way to access many government benefits. Filing your taxes, if you are low-income, is how you apply for benefits.

If you look at a tax form, you will see that it is called an “Income Tax and Benefit Return”

The federal government started to collect income tax in 1917. In 1978, they also started to pay benefits to people even if they did not owe taxes.

People who are low-income have several refundable credits owed to them every single year. Filing taxes is the same thing as applying for those benefits.

The CRA collects some debts

Recently, the CRA has also become a collection agency for government debts. These include:

  • Income Tax
  • Corporate Tax
  • Spousal or child support debts
  • Student loans
  • Apprenticeship loans
  • Benefits overpayment

What the CRA does not do 

The CRA can’t collect on any private debts, like credit cards or car loans. They can only collect what you might owe to the government.

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