Rebecca was outside doing some gardening when I came home from work for
lunch on Monday. As I got out of the Jeep, she said "Oh there is my late
husband" with a slight grin on her face. I thought this was kind of strange as
my lunch had only started 10 minutes ago (so I wasn't late at all). After we
both got into the house she handed me a letter from Revenue Canada addressed to
"The Estate of the Late Stephen Robb"!! Apparently the government (in it's
infinite wisdom) had come to the conclusion that I was in fact deceased after
processing my Income Tax Return for 2007.
On top of that shocker, a letter arrived the following day to state due to
my "death" on September 9, 2007, my Return was revised and reassessed using
that date to calculate my earnings and CPP contributions (not December 31st as
usual). This meant that my refund was several hundred dollars less than
expected (and addressed to my Estate as well).
Since 2005, we have had an accountant do our Income Tax filings, as there
were alot more financial expenses be be accounted for while Darrel was under
going the various never endings treatments. We needed someone with the
knowledge of the tax system, and not under the added emotional stress that
comes with your child battling cancer. Each year, we were fortunate to get
quite substantial refunds, though I wish we never had to have those expenses to
receive credit for in the first place. Our accountant had again calculated
another favourable Return for us for the past year. To avoid any problems, he
suggested we include a copy of Darerl's Death Certificate along with all the
other financial papers. This made perfect sense, so we did this, and made sure
to add his Soical Insurance Number (SIN), so that his Educational Savings Plan
could be adjusted at the same time.
Someone, somewhere along the line must not have been paying very (or any)
close attention to the detailed information I submitted. Darrel and I share
the same middle name, but all other personal data was obviously significantly
different. After finally talking to a real person (automated systems can drive
you batty), I think the situation MAY be properly corrected. As I was given
the typical government response of "6 to 8 weeks", it will probably be a while
before I'll know for certain.
As I was told I could, I went down to the bank to cash the refund cheque
Revenue Canada had sent (as an additional one MAY come later if they deem a
correction is required). Even though the teller knew who I was , the
transaction was flagged by the computer, and therefore there was nothing she
could do about it at that point. I then spent/wasted 20 minutes filling out
the paperwork to prove I was in fact alive.
Hopefully everything is resolved now (I'll let you know in...6 to 8 weeks),
but most likely my file is still somewhere stuck in the bureaucratic red tape
in Ottawa. Government employees seldom like to admit they made a mistake, so
who knows what may come further down the road. The only saving grace of all
this is that it happened this past Monday, not the previous week, which was
Darrel's birthday. It most certainly would not have been helpful or
appreciated on that day especially.
Two weeks ago, I paid a visit to our Member of Parliament's local office to inquire
on the status of my issues with Revenue Canada. A week later, the remainder of
the refund from my income tax claim arrived in the mail. Whether it was the MP's
staff pushing the action, or the fact that the initial 6 to 8 week period had come and
gone, I was just happy that the entire situation was behind us...or so I thought.
The next day, Rebecca received the new annual statement for the Canada Child Tax
Benefit. It of course, still listed THREE eligible children for us to claim for
the new governmental fiscal year. Needless to say, yet another uncomfortable
call had to be made to explain the reality of it all to some complete stranger.
More paperwork, more Red Tape, but still sadly...no more Darrel.