Last night, Hub took a message for me. It was ‘Cathy’ calling. Okay, I know a few Cathys but I haven’t heard from any of them for a while. No biggie. Oh, you said it was Cathy from the Canada Revenue Agency. Canada Revenue Agency Collections. Aw geez.

Man Filling out Tax FormI’d just come in from having my hair cut so I couldn’t even tear any of that out because once again, the hairdresser got so excited watching TV over her shoulder and going on about Doctor Oz and miracle health cures that she lost track of the fact that she was working on my head and I’d asked her for a ‘light trim’ and not a summer cut but she clipped too close on one side and had to balance it all off so I ended up with another too-short frigging boy crop just in time for freezing my scalp if I don’t wear a hat during the winter…..arrrrggggh.

The Canada Revenue Agency is the Canadian equivalent of the Internal Revenue Service, except without firearms and the evangelical zeal to see regular folks stripped to the skivvies in a snowdrift. Collections?

Of course, even though I don’t owe them a thing, my guts immediately cramped up. Why were they calling me? Had I tripped up with my calculations? I’ve been paying my installments against this year’s anticipated excess of income. I don’t owe back taxes. I report every cent. My accountant Simon is incredibly meticulous. Of course I went online and checked the CRA website. The number Cathy left was not listed. Was this a scam? I called the main CRA number but it was 4:50 p.m. and the line went to the voice message in anticipation of the office closing at five. Damn. I’d have to sleep on it.

I figured I wouldn’t call first thing today – I didn’t want to appear guilty or too anxious. After the interminable voice message loop and bland music, I got to speak to a young woman who rhymed off her employee number and name before she even said hello. That was comforting. I gave her my info and the number Cathy had left and she beetled off to check. Yup, it was legit. I’d rather it had been a scam.

When I called the Collections number, the young man who answered had already used his call display of my phone number to bring up my file. He could tell me how much I’d already paid in installments, which was reassuring. No, there was no tax owing. He hastened to add that they were simply making a ‘courtesy call’.

Okay. I get courtesy calls from my car dealer about how satisfied I was with the oil and filter change. I get a courtesy call from my bank after I’ve visited the teller to purchase an international money order. But the Canada Revenue Agency?  Yes, it was so. They wanted to remind me that their records showed I should pay up another $xxxx in installments. Uh, no. Not this year.

Coins in a Glass Jar

Installments are voluntary. It’s like a crap shoot.

If I land a big consulting job, I’ll owe taxes and pay an interest penalty because I didn’t ante up in advance. If I don’t earn more money than I’ve paid taxes on ahead of time, there won’t be any interest penalty. But in effect, I’m loaning the government my money without interest. This is the same government that just trumpeted a $1.9 billion surplus. Excuse me, Finance Minister, that’s OUR money, not yours. Don’t use it to bribe me with pre-election ‘goodies’. I work hard. I’d like to run a surplus. Give me my cash back (please, Sir, I want to keep more coins in my purse).

Young Mr. Victor took it graciously when I declined to send them any more money. Yes, I’d even say he was very courteous.