So they seized your bank account, What now?
You could hear the urgency in his tone and the near trembling in his voice as he was trying to explain to my colleague why he was phoning. He was flustered as he hadn’t yet had a chance to emotionally unpack the events that unfolded which brought him to call us. He didn’t sound frustrated, and besides, if he were, he would only have himself to be frustrated at. He just sounded shaken, to his core. His life had become completed halted, his professional life, his personal life, everything.
That morning on his way into work, he stopped at an ATM to get cash for a fundraiser which was held by one of his friends at work. The message that came up at the ATM said “insufficient funds”, which made no sense as his payday was only two days earlier, and he always kept a running balance over $1000.00 in that account. He got back into his car and called the 1-800 number on the back of his bank card. He’d never had his account compromised before. He recently used an ATM in a store that seemed sketchy and his immediate thought was that through that transaction, his account got compromised.
He usually would coast through a drive-threw on his way to the office and pick himself a nice hot coffee. It wasn’t a daily ritual, but it was within his plans that morning, but not before he resolved this pressing matter first. He figured it would be a quick call to fix whatever the problem was. After all of the identification verification questions, including a verbal password he couldn’t remember, bank’s CSR went from polite small talk to a sharp “Oh (pause) …. I see”. “Is everything okay”? he asked. “Sir”, the CSR said, “Your account has been frozen by the Canada Revenue Agency. Sir, you need to contact them immediately. There is NOTHING I can do for you”. It stopped him in his tracks. The previous years of unfiled tax returns which he had put on the backburner to be addressed on “a rainy day”, was now smack front and centre in front of him. As per the advice from the bank, his first (near panicked) phone call was to the CRA. He told us he was not mad at them, more embarrassed than anything else. He did mention though how frustrated he felt when at one point in the conversation they told him that the account could only be unlocked was with a payment, yet the actual amount he owed was unknown – and even if that amount were known, how could he pay it when his bank account is not accessible.
Later that day, he had told a friend, who through their own experience, directed him to TaxWise. By the time he was on the phone with my colleague, he had felt not the full wrath of the Canada Revenue Agency, but rather just an aggressive nudge, one that had paralysed him financially. “I knew it was something I had to get around to” he said, “I just forgot I was THAT far behind”. The first number that they gave him for what he owed was more than half of his yearly wage. “Now” he said, “I don’t know where to start”. My colleague told him “We start by doing one year at a time”.
The amount the CRA told he had owed was well over $30,000.00 and by the time TaxWise had him caught up to his final year, The Canada Revenue Agency actually owed him money. It wasn’t much, but it was something. He told my colleague that it wasn’t just procrastination that prevented him from doing his taxes. He said ti was like scheduling a tooth pulling, “after all” he said, “When is a good time to take on more debt”?. He said that he feared how much he owed and it was starting to catch up to him. For him, it was getting to a point where when one of those scam calls lands onto his phone, because he was behind on his taxes, for a brief moment, he actually thought they were real.
What also bothered his was what they were called: “Delinquent taxes”. The term delinquent made him feel like a criminal, the same way the CRA freezing his accounts made him feel like a prisoner. He said that when it was actually completed, it was then he realized how much stress that was placing on him. The amount of relief he felt when it was done, the way his shoulders came down, for what felt like the first time in years – that was when he realized how much not having this taken care of was truly costing him.