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No penalties on late tax filings for Canadian wildfire victims

Wildfire victims in Northwest Territories and British Columbia to get temporary tax relief.
The Lake Okanagan Resort was one of hundreds of homes and businesses that was destroyed or sustained serious fire damage in B.C.'s recent wildfires.

Canada’s tax agency says all victims of wildfire in the Northwest Territories and British Columbia will “be treated fairly” if they can’t meet their tax obligations at this time.

In a statement Thursday, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) confirmed that individuals, business and charities impacted by the wildfires would not be penalized or charged interest for late filings of all T2 and GST/HST returns normally due between Aug. 15 and Oct. 16.

The catch: returns must be submitted by Oct. 16 and the relief applies to a set list of affected postal codes — including several across the Okanagan Valley and Shuswap.

Individuals, businesses, and first responders unable to meet their tax obligations because of circumstances beyond their control can also submit a request for relief from penalties and interest. Cases will be decided on an individual basis.

In its statement, the CRA also reminded taxpayers whose benefits are being affected by mail delays that they can access immediate assistance at 1-800-959-8281 or visit the agency’s benefits page.

Information on delayed mail can also be accessed at Canada Post’s delivery service alerts webpage.

Future interruptions in benefit cheques can be avoided by enrolling in the CRA’s direct deposit option.

Collections officers at the Debt Management Call Centre are available to help people manage debt and can be reached at 1-888-863-8657.

If books and records have been destroyed in a wildfire or other unforeseen event, individual inquiries to CRA can be made at 1-800-959-8281. Anyone operating a business is encouraged to call 1-800-959-5525, while charities with lost records can get help at 1-800-267-2384.