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Susan Munroe

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Canadian Taxpayer Data Stolen With Heartbleed Breach

Thursday April 17, 2014

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has reported that 900 Canadian Social Insurance Numbers were taken from its servers by someone exploiting the Heartbleed security vulnerability. The CRA is going through an analysis of other fragments of data, some of which relate to businesses, that also may have been breached. The breach apparently took place in a six-hour period after the bug was discovered but before the CRA closed public access to their online systems.

The CRA's Commissioner Andrew Treusch said in a statement that the agency will notify the individuals affected by the breach by registered letter. A dedicated 1-800 number has been set up to provide them with further information, including what steps to take to protect the integrity of their SIN. Please note that individuals will not be notified by email or telephone that they have been affected, in order to avoid scams.

Affected individuals will be given free access to credit protection services. The CRA will also apply additional protections to their CRA accounts to prevent any unauthorized activity.

On April 15, the RCMP charged Stephen Arthuro Solis-Reyes, a 19-year-old London, Ontario student, in relation to this "malicious breach of taxpayer data." Solis-Reyes is scheduled to appear in court in Ottawa on July 17, 2014. The RCMP says the investigation is still ongoing. It is being handled by the RCMP's National Division Integrated Technological Crime Unit (ITCU) and "O" Division.

More on Heartbleed
Canadian Income Tax Services Back Online
Canada Revenue Agency Temporarily Closes Online Services

Canadian Income Tax Services Back Online

Thursday April 17, 2014
Canadian online tax services, which were temporarily closed to the public on April 8, 2014 due to the Heartbleed security bug, were restored on April 13. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) worked with Shared Services Canada to apply, and test, a patch to address the vulnerability.

Canada Revenue Agency

Because of the delay and inconvenience to Canadian taxpayers, the deadline for filing 2013 Canadian income tax returns has been extended from April 30, 2014 to May 5, 2014. Individual taxpayers filing their 2013 tax returns by May 5, 2014 will not be charged penalties and interest for filing their taxes late.

The CRA says that since the patch is now in place, users can safely log on with their current user ID and password, however it is good practice to change your password periodically.

The CRA has posted some answers to frequently asked questions.

Photo: Canada Revenue Agency Headquarters
Courtesy Canada Revenue Agency

More on Canadian Income Taxes
Filing Your Canadian Income Taxes - The Basics
My Account Tax Service
NETFILE - Filing Your Canadian Income Taxes Online
EFILE - Use a Service Provider to File Your Taxes

Philippe Couillard in Charge

Thursday April 10, 2014
The day after the Liberal party's landslide victory in the 2014 Quebec provincial election, Premier-designate Philippe Couillard held a news conference to outline his immediate plans. A transition committee will be overseen by Daniel Johnson, a former Liberal premier. The new premier and his cabinet are expected to be sworn in right after the Easter break.

Philippe Couillard

With jobs and the economy predominant issues, Couillard said his first concern is the state of the public finances. He told reporters that he would call in the Quebec auditor general to do a full accounting of the province's books. He said that he would go ahead with efforts that don't require the tabling of a budget, such as new tax credits and infrastructure projects which had been announced.

Dr. Couillard also said he would address issues raised by the controversial proposed Charter of Secular Values "early in my government." He plans to find elements to form a consensus position, such as the neutrality of the state and protection of religious rights. He also plans to re-introduce the bill to legalize medically assisted death.

Photo: © Flickr user François Thivierge

More on Quebec Elections
Quebec Political Parties
Quebec Party Leaders

Canada Revenue Agency Temporarily Closes Online Services

Wednesday April 9, 2014
Update: 04/10/2014
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) says that it expects to have services restored on the weekend. Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay has also announced that individuals will not be charged late penalties for filing their tax returns after the April 30 deadline for the length of time of the service interruption.

The CRA has temporarily shut down public access to its online services due to the Heartbleed bug. Heartbleed is an Internet security vulnerability in software code used by two-thirds of "secure" websites on the Internet.

Canada Revenue Agency

The temporary shutdown is a preventative measure to protect the integrity of taxpayers' information held by the CRA. Applications affected include EFILE, NETFILE, My Account, My Business Account and Represent a Client.

The agency is working as quickly as possible to assess the imapct of this bug, to resolve any issues, and to restore online services as soon as possible. They will be providing further information as it becomes available, including daily updates.

Photo: Canada Revenue Agency Headquarters
Courtesy Canada Revenue Agency

More on Canadian Income Taxes
Canadian Income Tax Basics
Where to Get a Canadian Income Tax Package

Arrange Direct Deposit of Government Cheques

Monday March 31, 2014

The Canadian federal government is in the process of phasing out paper cheques, which is probably just as well since Canada Post is phasing out delivering mail. Public Works says it's a money-saving measure, since it costs about 82 cents to issue a cheque, and only 13 cents to make a direct-deposit payment. And those numbers are a year or two out of date. You can make arrangements for direct deposit fairly easily - online, by mail or by phone. Since it's that time of year, here are the details for Direct Deposit of Canadian Tax Payments for any cheques that come from the Canada Revenue Agency. The nice thing about it is the money comes much more quickly,

More About Canadian Taxes
How to Change Your Address With the CRA
My Account Tax Service
Quick Access Tax Service

Battle of Ypres 1915

Monday March 31, 2014
The second Battle of Ypres in World War I established the reputation of the Canadians when the 1st Canadian Division held their own against the Germans' use of a new weapon of modern warfare - chlorine gas. It was the first large-scale use of poison gas in battle. The gas was brought to the front in large metal canisters. When it was released it cooled to a liquid and blew over the battlefield in a yellowish-green cloud. The Canadians were not initially the main target of the gas, which hit the French Moroccan and Algerian troops directly, but they still felt its effects. With no warning, gas masks or other defence, the soldiers resorted to urine-soaked handkerchiefs and pads over their mouths to allow them to function.

In Flanders Fields

It was also at Ypres that John McCrae, a Canadian military surgeon, wrote In Flanders Fields, a stirring poem of remembrance. A Major and second in command of the 1st Brigade Canadian Field Artillery, McCrae wrote the poem when his friend and former student Lieutenant Alexis Helmer was one of the 2000 Canadian soldiers killed on the Ypres battlefield.

Photo: Flanders Poppies
Tom Brakefield / Getty Images

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Battle of Beaumont Hamel
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The Halifax Explosion
Canada and World War I

An Introduction for Philippe Couillard

Monday March 31, 2014
There has certainly been nothing dull about the 2014 Quebec election campaign. From the surprise announcement of media mogul Pierre Karl Péladeau's entry as a Parti Québécois (PQ) candidate early in the campaign, to accusations that Ontario students were trying to steal the election, there's just been one dramatic accusation nearly every day.

Philippe Couillard

One thing I have found interesting, rather than just nerve-wracking, is the new Liberal Party leader Philippe Couillard. Not many politicians have a background as a neurosurgeon for one. He has been saying all along that the real issues are the economy, jobs, education and healthcare, which makes more sense than most of the other lines that are being spouted. To back that up, the Quebec Liberal site also has daily commitments on what the Liberals would do in all those areas too. I've summarized a selection of their proposals in his biography. It's well worth a look if you're finding some of the other rhetoric coming out of Quebec lately a little too much.

Photo: © Flickr user François Thivierge

More on Quebec Elections
Quebec Political Parties
Quebec Party Leaders

Making Changes to Your Canadian Income Tax Return

Sunday March 30, 2014
If you have corrections, received some tax information after you filed your tax return, or just remembered something to add, you can change your Canadian income tax return online or by mail. Wait until you receive your Notice of Assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) before you file changes though.

You are allowed to make changes for the last ten years. You can make changes to your most recent return and the previous two years online using the My Account Tax Service. For returns earlier than that you have to do it by mail. It usually takes about two weeks for changes made online to be processed, and eight weeks for those made by mail. It can take longer though, depending on the timing and the change requested.

More on Canadian Income Taxes
Canadian Income Tax Packages for Past Years
How to Change Your Address with the CRA
Check on Your Canadian Income Tax Refund
Canadian Income Tax Basics

Canada at the Battle of Vimy Ridge

Sunday March 30, 2014
At dawn on Easter Monday in 1917, all four divisions of the Canadian Corps attacked Vimy Ridge in France. The Battle of Vimy Ridge was the first time the Canadians fought as a national unit, and some say it was Canada's coming of age.

Canadians Wounded at Vimy Ridge

Canada's change from a colony to a country which had paid for its nationhood did not come cheaply. Pictures of the Battle of Vimy Ridge show the misery and death of the battle. Of the 100,000 or so Canadians who fought at Vimy, more than 10,600 were wounded and nearly 3600 died. The Germans had 20,000 casualties.

Photo: W.I. Castle / Canada. Dept. of National Defence /
Library and Archives Canada / PA-001125

More on Canada in World War I
Sir Arthur Currie
Lord Byng
Battle of Passchendaele
Canada in World War I

Free Income Tax Preparation Clinics

Monday March 10, 2014

If your income is low and you need help preparing your income tax return, check into the community volunteer income tax preparation clinics run by the Canada Revenue Agency. These clinics are staffed by trained volunteers to help low-income Canadians with straightforward income tax returns. The clinics are free and run at locations across the country.

Remember, even if you don't have to pay any income taxes, by filing an income tax return you can claim certain benefits, such as the GST/HST credit, Canada Child Tax Benefit payments, or Guaranteed Income Supplement or Allowance benefits.

More on Canadian Income Taxes
Canadian Income Taxes - The Basics
Where to Get Help With Your Canadian Income Taxes
NETFILE - Filing Your Taxes Online

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