Computer glitch delays online tax filing in Canada

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Thursday, March 8, 2007

Computer systems used by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for the handling of tax filing data for Canadians have been temporarily shutdown due to infrastructure problems. [1] A March 7 article in the Toronto Star [2] states that due to errors in the electronic filing system, Canada Revenue Agency will be unable to accept any tax filings electronically or corrections to prior filings.

A fact sheet from the CRA [3] states that "until the problem is resolved, we cannot process returns filed on paper, or returns filed electronically before the system interruption. Refunds will be delayed until processing is resumed".

A check of the taxing authority's website [4] regarding the issue states "We have temporarily shut down public access to electronic services to ensure the integrity of taxpayer information." and that "We have now traced the source of the problem to software maintenance conducted on March 4, 2007. We are currently working to bring all systems back online gradually."

A CRA press release dated March 6 [5] states "Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Michel Dorais today instructed some computer applications related to personal income tax filing to be temporarily halted." he also said, "there is no indication that this situation was caused by intrusion, hacking, or computer virus". Further, "These applications include online services like Efile, Netfile, and My Account. Mr. Dorais said that he instructed that this preventative measure be taken following indications that CRA computer systems have run into infrastructure problems. In order to safeguard existing systems and to maintain the integrity of CRA's taxpayer information holdings, Mr Dorais ordered tax filing processes halted."

An article in The Globe and Mail [6] states that taxpayers "can wait for Netfile to return to service, or they can print their returns and mail them to the CRA", which will be processed when the computer glitch is resolved.

The deadline for Canadians to submit tax returns is April 30. The CRA indicates it is too soon to speculate on whether the filing deadline will be extended. They expect to restore all services, including EFile and Netfile, well in advance of the filing deadline. [7]

The shutdown also affects third-party companies that prepare tax returns and electronically file the data using the EFile facility on behalf of clients. According to the CRA, millions of individual Canadians use the Netfile service each year.

The Agency will provide updates daily to the media until the situation is resolved.

Sources

  1. "Tax department says online tax filing fix is a 'major' one" — CBC News, March 7, 2007
  2. Curtis Rush and James Daw. "Kiss early tax-return cash goodbye" — Totonto Star, March 7, 2007
  3. Fact Sheet. "Computer Foul-up Breaks Canadian Tax Filing System" — Canada Revenue Agency, March 07, 2007
  4. "Online services - Update" — Revenue Canada, March 7, 2007
  5. Press Release: "Online Tax Services Suspended By CRA" — Canada Revenue Agency, March 6, 2007
  6. Jack Kapica. "Tax system to stay offline a few more days" — The Globe and Mail, March 7, 2007
  7. Kathryn May. "Computer malfunction brings down online tax filing" — CanWest News Service, March 6, 2007


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