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Sask Loans and Statute barred

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tlg View Drop Down

Joined: 22/December/2017
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    Posted: 22/December/2017 at 7:53pm

I have a few questions regarding CRA liens / Sask student loans tax setoff, and any help would be much appreciated, as I have just learned today - the day before close of business until after Christmas - that all of my income tax, GST, and CCTB refunds ($4000 or so,) were clawed back for my outstanding 16 year old Saskatchewan student loans which were sorely needed because I am disabled due to chronic illness and having to live on assistance. I did not intentionally default on my loans; it has been because I have been disabled and ill, and have never earned much above the poverty line since graduating.

Now, I recently was finally able to file for the years 2010 - 2016 (I did not file due to being unable to cope with my illness and being a shut-in). I should have been receiving at least $4000 in income tax refunds and GST/CCTB (for the months I did try to work over those years, but was not sustainable due to being ill). However, today, I called CRA to follow up as to the status of my returns, and was informed that all of my refunds went to any Saskatchewan student loans outstanding, despite that they are 16 years old and my financial and disability status. CRA told me to call the Saskatchewan Ministry of Advanced Education, which I did, who then told me that "you have a debt, it is outstanding and will be placed with CRA for recovery as a lien on your refunds until it is paid in full" - and that if I had more questions I was to call CRA. I then called CRA again, who told me again to call the Saskatchewan Ministry of Advanced Education. Knowing I was going to get the same answer from Saskatchewan Student Loans, I called NSLSC, who told me they could not even see my loans, and that they are not the agency to call - because all they deal with is loan rehabilitation. I then found a number to call CRA Student Loans Collections, who also told me they could not even see my student loans, and had no further suggestions. By the time I got off the phone with them, it was the close of business before the Christmas holiday. So, now, not only are the refunds I had been in dire need of due to living in poverty on disability income potentially gone, but now I have to sit over Christmas for five days until anything more can be learned.

My understanding is that due to the six year statute of limitations for Saskatchewan student loans is that my loans (years 1995-2001) were statute barred long ago, removed from active recovery, and were no longer collectable.

My first question(s) are:

1. Does the action taken by CRA on behalf of Saskatchewan Student Loans sound accurate policy and protocol, according to the Canada and Saskatchewan Student Loans Acts?

2. What is the difference between a "collections" limitation period, as opposed to a "claims" or "proceedings" period? Is there a difference? If there is only a statute of limitation on a proceedings period, then I would guess that they can still technically collect on any outstanding loan amount, even though they may not be able to file any formal legal claims.

2. For tax years 2008 & 2009, refunds were paid (involuntarily - so not an "acknowledgement of debt") by CRA due to the tax offset to student loans. Might this mean the six-year statute of limitations was reset, and perhaps this was why my current refunds were paid to The Ministry of Advanced Education?

3. Might there be any way, protocol, or procedure that exists due to my present circumstances - severe financial hardship as a result of my disability (which had existed since graduating in 2004) - to ask to have this tax offset be repaid to me, at least for now? I am living on provincial assistance due to being chronically ill which renders me unable to work. If and when I am able to recover enough to return to work gainfully, I intend to try to repay some amount if I am able. I am not a person who does not pay my bills.

Preceding these circular conversations with various CRA agencies and Saskatchewan Student Loans today, I lost my 13.5 year old disability support dog on November 30th, and I am all alone over the holidays as I have no family - not to mention broke. So, this loss of the expected tax refunds and credits for years 2010-2016 due to allegedly outstanding student loans - which I was informed by CRA months ago were no longer collectable, was a really hard hit for me today and my illness is flaring as a result.

Any advice or suggestions are both welcome and appreciated. Please be kind. Thank-you, and Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. 
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