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A Federal Problem

November 14, 2018

For several years now we have been hearing about the problems for the Federal Government created by Phoenix, their new exotic digital payroll system that seems to systematically fail to pay the right amount to federal employees. It would be a mistake however, to assume this is the only problem lurking within the federal public service. As a simple illustration I Netfiled my income tax return on the 10th of April, and I am yet to receive any acknowledgement of it. It is not through lack of trying. I battled my way through endless press this that or the other options back in August to try and find out how I stood. The very friendly person I finally reached put me on hold for a brief period while they tried to find out what was going on. The response he gave was that my return had not yet been processed, and that in the absence of a response I should phone again in a months time. He also said that I might get a phone call from Revenue Canada. This naturally concerned me as we have all heard about the fake phone calls demanding money from Revenue Canada, but he assured me if I called back on the number I had used to reach him, I could find out if it was legitimate. By October I had still heard nothing, so I repeated the process and got another person on the line, who made enquiries on my behalf, and came back saying that he was told I would just have to wait for my turn!

All this is interesting, but I heard on the morning news the other day that Revenue Canada had made over a billion dollars, through identifying people who were getting benefits they were not entitled to. My most recent experience may explain why. While checking into a bank account that I use for paying intermittent large bills, such as property tax, and tax instalments, I found a lot more money than I expected. Naturally I was delighted, but curious as to who the generous soul was who was enriching me. I discovered that since the first of July I have been receiving the maximum amount of the Old Age Supplement, despite the fact tht my income is above where they start to claw it back. In some confusion I sought a relevant source of information, and once again after pressing numerous buttons I got through to a real person at Service Can ada. He was surprised to hear that I was upset about receiving the OAS, but he put me on hold to look in to it, after brief delay he came back and said that as Revenue Canada had not dealt with my return, Service Canada had no evidence of my income for 2017 and assumed I needed the money and made the payments to me. He confirmed that I could be expected to pay it back in due course, and that he had some way to stop the payments continuing. As it does not involve the Phoenix payroll system, that may work, but I shall watch it closely. Mean while when I file my 2018 tax return next year Revenue Canada will descend on me like a ton of bricks for receiving a benefit I am not entitled to, So now I know why Revenue Canada finds and recovers undeserved benefits, their laggardlyness creates them in the first place.

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