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Monday, September 21, 2015

Is three years too long to wait for a Tax Clearance Certificate?

The wait for Tax Clearance Certificates can seem endless, fraying the patience of both the executor and the beneficiaries. We know it takes a really long time, but how long is too long? Recently a reader asked me about this. His question and my answer follow:

"We've been waiting 3 years to get our clearance certificate. Is this normal? What should be the expected processing period? The 2 of us are beneficiaries and the executor is poor at communicating to us. Are there any steps we can take to speed up the process?"

I would say that three years is longer than normal to wait for the receipt of a Tax Clearance Certificate. You should expect to wait at least six months, and realistically more like a year.

One thing that might shed some light on your situation is the fact that the waiting time for the Clearance Certificate does not start running on the death of the person, or even from the date of probate. The waiting time begins once the application for it has been sent to Canada Revenue Agency by the executor, or by an accountant on behalf of the executor. Keep in mind that the executor cannot even apply for the Clearance Certificate until all tax returns have been filed and all taxes have been paid.

This means that the executor has to wrap up the entire estate before applying. He might not be in a position to send in the application for the certificate until a year or two after someone has died.

Since you have said that the executor is not good at communicating with you, it is probably safe to say that you haven't been told exactly when the application was made. Perhaps you might ask the executor for confirmation as to when the application was sent.

As for your last question, no I don't know of anything you can do to speed up the process. I wish I did. In fact, if you contact Canada Revenue Agency, they won't even give you any information because you're not the executor.

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