Federal taxman still out of reach for Village of Alix

·3 min read

The Village of Alix’ odyssey to find someone at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) who can answer its questions continues, as a writ from the federal government agency continues to cast shadows over a tax recovery sale.

Councillors heard an update about the village’s inability to locate a CRA department responsible for writs at the Sept. 7 regular meeting of council.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White stated her efforts to track down a CRA department that could advise the village about addressing or removing a writ placed on a residential property in Alix may be bearing fruit but the situation is far from clear.

“We’ve reached the right department,” said White to councillors.

After about two and a half months of phoning, emailing and message-leaving White noted it appears she’s uncovered the CRA office that handles property writs.

While the CRA staff promised to call back, the CAO stated she hasn't heard back from them yet. She added that it appears the village may need the late property owner’s social insurance number, which the CAO noted the village doesn’t have any access to.

Coun. Ed Cole noted it may be illegal for the village to request a SIN.

Finding the proper CRA department hasn’t been easy noted the CAO. She said recent media coverage helped a bit.

“A very nice lady who retired from the CRA reached out after reading the article in the ECA Review to let me know where I should be inquiring for help within the Canada Revenue Agency,” stated White’s report to council.

“It was very promising but after many more calls and referrals I am no further ahead on this than I was at the last meeting. A letter was sent to MP Blaine Calkins’ office on Aug. 5. No response to the letter has been received as of this time.

“I also emailed Municipal Affairs again to update them on this and ask for guidance,” noted White, adding the provincial government department hadn’t yet provided any more advice.

The issue at hand is a roughly $87,000 debt owed by a property owner to the CRA, and complicating the matter is the property owner has passed away. There is also an unpaid tax debt on the same property owed to the Village of Alix and the property in question is set to go to auction for tax recovery in Sept.

White reported in August she’d spent weeks trying to sort out the issue, but hadn’t been able to even begin that process because she could not contact anyone at the CRA; automated answering systems sent her on a circular journey.

Now another problem with a second property has cropped up.

“On the same topic, while preparing for the upcoming tax recovery public auction sale scheduled for Sept. 13, 2022, it was discovered there are two more CRA writs registered on title for a (second) property up for sale that day,” stated White in her report.

“In my email to Municipal Affairs, I asked for advice on how to proceed since it is very possible we could have an interested buyer at the auction.”

White noted there has been interest in this second property among the public, and she will notify them the day of the sale that there are CRA writs registered on that title so it’s possible the property won’t sell.

She also noted that requests for information from larger cities bore no fruit either. Apparently, she noted, situations like the one the Village of Alix finds itself in are rather rare.

Councillors accepted the report for information.

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review