Panic. Panic. Don’t Panic. Re-panic.

I was in shock a couple of weeks ago because I received a Notice of Reassessment from the Canada Revenue Agency stating that I owed a lot of taxes on my 2017 tax return, and it had to be paid within twenty days. Yikes! I panicked. I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t figure it out.

Panic by creozavr via Pixabay

Their notice included a long explanation which I couldn’t understand, but the part that did seem clear to me was the part that said my taxable income was a lot more than I had stated. Wait, what? I am on a pension income, and that additional amount is huge. How could that be? Also, I don’t have the money to pay the bill unless I borrow it. Then it will take me a long time to repay it. More panic.

In my consternation, I tried to remember my major expenses for the last couple of years. I had done some improvements to my San Jose condo, but that wouldn’t have anything to do with my Canadian tax return. And in any case, I didn’t borrow money or draw down from my RSPs (Retirement Savings Plans) for those things so there would have been no increased income to declare.
Taxes via pxhere

The other part that had me in a tizzy was the implication that I had tried to cheat on my taxes. I do not cheat on my taxes! In fact, I go out of my way to make sure I have downloaded all the tax statements, kept all the receipts in order, and got the returns done on time. How dare they?

I decided that figuring out this Notice of Reassessment was beyond my abilities, so I emailed the three people whom I thought could help me. The first was my tax accountant, the second was the man who manages my retirement savings, and the third was one of my sons. The tax accountant wasn’t available so I made an appointment. The investment adviser was in Mexico but he texted me to say he’d be in touch when he got back to Canada. My son said he’d help me sort it through next week when we will both be in Edmonton.

San Francisco Golden Gate Theatre from Andreas Praefcke via Wikimedia Commons

The next day, I took time out from all this panicking and went to the theatre. It was wonderful, and it is absolutely the best thing to do when one is frazzled. I saw Come From Away and loved it. You should go, even if you aren’t panicking about anything. It will help you see all your troubles in proportion, and they won’t look so big after all. At least, that’s what it did for me!

The day after that, I got my ducks in a row. I went online and found my bank statements for 2017. I went through each one to see if there were any large deposits. Sure enough, there were; one in March and one in April. Ah ha! Then I went to the site for one of my RSPs and found that I had withdrawn that money plus an amount to pay for the taxes. That’s when it dawned on me that I had used the money to pay for renovations at the Edmonton house. Gah! Of course! Now it was starting to make sense.

Indignant from Keven Law via Wikimedia Commons

Then I dug out all the 2017 tax documents to find out if I had declared the amount. Sure enough, I had declared it, and I had pre-paid the taxes via the RSP provider. I had also provided the necessary government form for the declaration when the tax return was completed. By this time, I was starting to feel less panicky and more indignant.

That evening I took all my documents and my indignation down to H&R Block and asked my lovely tax accountant to clear up the mess for me. She advised me that, since the time available to make the payment is so soon, I should pay it before the due date. Once the issue has been examined and resolved, H&R Block will pay any fines and charges and the government will refund any overpayment.

After I got home, I went to the government tax website to pay them the required sum that I had just taken out of my line of credit. It took me a while to figure out how to do that, but now it is done. I decided I was going to make sure I kept track of the interest on that loan and eventually bill someone for it. It wouldn’t be enough to make anyone panic, but I would make me feel triumphant!

Then, just as I was starting to feel, smugly, I had it all resolved and that I was blameless, I got an email from the tax accountant telling me that what I thought was the answer was not, in fact, the answer. It turns out that part of my pension income was not incorporated into the return. Jeepers creepers! Should I start to panic again? It looks as though I didn’t include one statement about some of my income, so panicking might be in order. Also, I may need to eat some humble pie.

No, I think I’ll just have a glass of wine and watch the latest news about American and/or British politics. Nothing is as bad as that.


  1. Oh no! I’m sorry you had to pay it after all! It sounds like you dealt with it all very well though, I’m proud of you!

  2. Gah! Tax problems really are the worst, aren’t they? What a pity that you found in the end you really were liable for the extra payment … but now it’s done (however painfully). I do like your method of “reality reframing” by considering American and British politics, though! You’re right that by those standards, our lives are *perfect.*

  3. Good grief! I would probably be coming unglued with this kind of news! I hope it will all be settled eventually in your favor! One can always hope, can’t one? Good luck lady!

  4. A glass (or two ) of wine sounds good. I’m glad you’re getting it sorted! We had a huge tax bill one year and “the man” was not pleasant to deal with. I still cringe when I think of it. May your experience be smooth and easy peasy!

  5. Now I’ve seen Come from Away twice, n read the book! Love it! It’s coming to San Jose next season! Great show! Hope your tax bill is not too bad!!

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