Fake news threatens access to the DTC

June 19, 2019

Fake news threatens to deny the DTC to thousands of eligible Canadians with disabilities.

Fake news threatens to shut out the professional consultants that help Canadians with disabilities with the application and appeal process for the elusive DTC.

Fake news threatens to destroy the only industry that holds the CRA accountable when children living with autism are denied the DTC.

Fake news is dominating the conversation around the proposed regulations published in the June 1, 2019 Canada Gazette to limit the fees that these consultants can charge when assisting with the application process for the DTC to $100.

Although MP Cheryl Gallant’s Private Members Bill, C-462, the Disability Tax Credit Promoters Restriction Act, became law in April 2014, allowing the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to restrict the fees that the companies could charge, apparently there was no urgency to regulate the industry.  In the meantime, the CRA became increasingly rigid in its administration of the DTC. The industry took note and formed the Association of Canadian Disability Benefit Professionals with its own code of ethics. The Association has just released a revised edition of A Study of the Disability Benefit Professionals Industry: Serving Taxpayers and yet, MP Gallant continues to tarnish the reputation of these legitimate businesses by perpetuating misconceptions.

Even the venerable Financial Post stooped to sensational tabloid journalism by exploiting the most vulnerable members of our society when Jamie Golombek recently interviewed MP Gallant and reported her outrageous claims without fact-checking with a credible source.  And concluding with her comment that "it only takes (her staff)  a few minutes" to help her constituents apply for the DTC when in a previous article he described how challenging it is to access the DTC.

Fact: These consultants do not charge predatory fees of 40% of the refund as she suggests. Instead, moderate contingency fees as low as 20% allows all Canadians with disabilities, to access professional expertise regardless of income.

Fact: 80% of a refund is a lot better than 100% of nothing which was the case for more than 21,000 people certified by their doctors as living with a severe and prolonged mental impairment in the 2016-2017 tax year.

Fact: These consultants do not charge for tax credits received in future years.

Fact: Although MP Gallant claims that her assistants only take “a few minutes” to help a constituent apply for the DTC, she and her staff may not be aware that some parents are not authorized to file an application for the DTC on behalf of their children which can lead to devastating financial consequences for the family.

Fact: The CRA fails to follow the rule of law as it is interpreted by the Tax Court of Canada.

Fact: The CRA fails to process all claims properly often making clerical errors that are sometimes difficult to track down and even more difficult to fix.

Fact: These are only a few of the reasons why so many of our most vulnerable citizens rely on the expertise of professional consultants to assist them navigate the complexities of the application and appeal processes when CRA can’t get it right the first time.

If it were not so, there would not have been a need to reinstate the Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) in November 2017 to address the systemic problems with the administration of the DTC.

One of the recommendations in the first annual report, Enabling access to disability tax measures specifies a cap on fees charged by "promoters" but there is no business model to support the $100 cap for an in-depth consultation with the taxpayer to assist with the application process and also follow-up with additional medical information when a clarification letter is sent to the health practitioner.

In the Canada Gazette, the CRA refers to discussions regarding proposed regulations stating that “the DAC was of the view that the fee should be set at an affordable rate for the applicant, should be simple to communicate and understand, and ensure that promoters are adequately compensated for their time to ensure legitimate businesses can continue to operate and provide affordable services to this vulnerable community.”

I am asking for your support to ask CRA to withdraw its proposed regulations since the CRA has failed to carry out its due diligence to study the implications of a flat fee of $100 on people who have no other advocates and go back to the drawing board. And what about the mothers on social assistance and seniors on fixed incomes who do not have $100 to pay the fee without a guarantee of a positive outcome. 

Time is running out.

The CRA has only allowed for a 30-day consultation period that expires on July 1, 2019. 

Questions and answers to the proposed Disability Tax Credit Promoters Restrictions Regulations has been posted online. Please note that Q10 regarding the $100 fee does not mention that the application process includes completing Form T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate and the follow-up questionnaire known as the clarification letter if CRA requires further medical information from the healthcare practitioner.

Read the letter from my MP, Murray Rankin, who has asked the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue to withdraw the proposed regulations. He is concerned that the $100 fee is not based on a business model to ensure that Canadians with disabilities have access to professionals with the experience and knowledge to help them access an increasing number of provincial and federal income support programs.

Read the letter from MP John Aldag, who notes "that is difficult to navigate (the tax system) despite our best efforts to improve the administration of the DTC. Until we achieve that objective, legitimate consultants play an important role in maintaining the integrity of the DTC and our administration of it."

Read the letter from MP Gordie Hogg, who is concerned about disabled Canadians who can not afford to pay the $100 fee and therefore not be able to engage professional help needed to access the DTC.

Read the letter from Peter Weissman, Co-chair of the former Disability Advisory Committee (2005-2006), who is concerned that the proposed Regulations will "hurt the very people we want to help."

Read the letter from John Oakey, National Director of Tax Services for an in-depth analysis of six areas of concern.

If you wish to comment on these regulations, please send an email to Denise Bertrand, Senior Policy Analyst, Legislative Policy Directorate, Canada Revenue Agency at denyse.bertrand@cra-arc.gc.ca or a letter to her attention at 320 Queen Street, Place de Ville, Tower A, 6th Floor, Ottawa, ON K1A 0L5 (tel: 613-670-9546; fax:613-954-0896). Please include the following information in your letter:

Re:    Canada  Gazette, Part I, Volume 153, Number 22, June 1, 2019
          Disability Tax Credit Promoters Restrictions Act (DTCPRA)