How to Save Money » Taxes

Demystifying the CRA Voluntary Disclosure Program

If you’re one of the thousands of Canadian “taxpayers” that have failed to file Canadian income tax returns you can be comforted by the fact that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) administers a program to help Canadians voluntary file past due income tax returns without threat of penalty.

This program can be of great benefit to delinquent taxpayers as potential penalties on overdue income taxes can be significant and in many cases exceed the amount of taxes owing.
In order to qualify for CRA’s voluntary disclosure program a taxpayer must meet the following criteria:

1. Voluntary

The application for tax amnesty must be voluntary. If the taxpayer has been contacted by CRA with respect to the tax years in question or the taxpayer was aware of a tax audit that was imminent, the disclosure will be rejected.

2. Complete

The disclosure must be complete and include all relevant information, facts and details.

3. Penalty

The disclosure must involve a penalty such as a filing penalty, instalment penalty, etc.

4. One Year Past Due

The filing(s) in question must be over one year past due unless the disclosure is to correct a previously filed tax return.

Once these criteria are met the taxpayer is eligible to complete form RC199 and submit the new tax information for review and assessment. Once completed this form should be mailed to the Assistant Director – Enforcement Division of the taxpayer’s closest Tax Service Office.

If more time is needed to prepare the returns the disclosure can be submitted and the tax information can follow shortly thereafter once the CRA has approved the voluntary disclosure form.
CRA has developed a negative reputation in the eyes of many Canadians, however is most cases the CRA is reasonable and fair when dealing with delinquent tax filers provided the submission of late tax returns is voluntary. Maintaining an open and honest dialogue with the voluntary disclosure officer can ensure the process is relatively painless and expeditious.


  1. Steve Zussino

    It still blows me away why the government cannot figure out how much taxes each person owes automatically. Theoretically, they should have access to most of my records – T4, investment income.

    For most people can’t they just collect ahead of time?

    • Phil Hogan, CA

      In a way they do “collect” ahead of time via withholdings on salaries. However it would be impossible for CRA to automatically collect taxes on all types of income such as rental income, business income and capital gains.

      They simply don’t have access to enough information at the moment.


  2. Mrs. Money

    I can’t tell you how many times I wish I was Canadian. 😉 Of course, I don’t want to be a Canadian that’s behind on their taxes!

  3. Samantha

    Does anyone know how long the process typically takes to get your Notices of Assessments processed under the VDP?

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*