Tax hits: Text scam, credit clawback, and danger pay — not

The Canada Revenue Agency warns taxpayers not to fall for a phishing scam promising refunds via text (Twitter/@smitty_mark)

Like it or not — probably not — it's tax season and income issues are in the news. Here's a recap of some interesting and, hopefully, useful tax stories.

No tax refunds by text

Some people already feel ripped off on their taxes, but now some fraudsters are attempting a full-on tax scam.

The Canada Revenue Agency issued a warning about a phishing scam that tricks recipients with a text message promising their tax refund.

The text message says the CRA has sent an e-transfer, then prompts the recipient to enter personal information such as bank account and credit card numbers, a SIN, and other sensitive information.

“Canadians are reminded that the CRA will only send payments by direct deposit or by cheque, never by e-mail money transfer,” reads a notice on the agency website.


Tax clawback offsets federal cuts

The federal government has introduced billions in tax cuts and credits, but they may not make a difference to your own bottom line, since provincial taxes will claw it right back, a new report suggests.

A research paper from Bank of Montreal says that provincial tax hikes and austerity budgets could eat up as much as 75 per cent of your federal tax cuts. Budgets in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Quebec have revealed big tax hikes, and debt-ridden Ontario and Atlantic Canada are expected to go a similar route.

“Most of what Ottawa will be returning to one taxpayers’ pocket, the provinces will take out of the other,” BMO economist Robert Kavcic said.

“All told, while Ottawa’s package of tax cuts/benefit increases will come in at around $4.5-billion … it looks like the provinces will take back about three-quarters of it,” he added.


High risk, higher taxes

As if civil servants representing Canada on dangerous overseas assignments didn’t have it tough enough, they’re now facing tax hikes stemming from the higher cost of doing their jobs.

Normal group insurance plans don’t cover high-risk travel to conflict zones or disease hotspots, so federal workers need additional coverage. However, Ottawa treats that extra insurance as a taxable benefit, so civil servants pay more tax for taking on work in dangerous parts of the world.

"Trips to these locations are no holidays. They are deemed essential by the employer and could hardly be described as a benefit," union head Chrystiane Roy told the CBC. "No government should resolve its budget issues on the back of the safety and security of its employees." 

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