Unenforceable Bill of Rights for Taxpayers

 A Bill of Rights typically entrenches rights in the law so that individuals can enforce their rights through the legal process. However, unlike Americans – who have their Taxpayer Bill of Rights codified in the Internal Revenue Code – Canadian taxpayers do not have equivalent legal protection. We must rely on the goodwill of the Minister of Revenue for our rights. Although the government has said that “…taxpayers … have rights and that … the CRA take these rights seriously”, neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals have enacted taxpayer rights into law. Why? Because they are concerned that taxpayer rights will erode the discretionary power of the bureaucracy.

Taxpayer rights are not a high priority with Canadians until they get into a tax dispute with the tax authorities. Then, rights become a hot button topic. Pierre Trudeau sacrificed enshrining property rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 because Saskatchewan resisted their inclusion for fear that such rights would inhibit the provincial power to tax.

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