This post is yet another post that I was encouraged to write by Elliott of Supernova.com, after telling him this tale while our boys were in karate class.
I was spouting off about my days working for the Canadian Tax Authority, when my responsibilities afforded me the opportunity to leave the office and visit clients to discuss their tax debts / compliance issues.
Unlike others who “may” have abused that authority, I loved getting out to visit clients. I’m a social guy, and it was always in my best interest to leave a good impression on them and help them resolve their issues, while also promoting the CRA.
I would always set up a full schedule of visits, and spend the entire day seeing as many as I could. When I first started with this role, I would wear a tie, but as I became comfortable with the role and spoke to many clients I realized the tie made me appears like I was a salesman, or worse, Jehovah’s Witness, so people refused to open their doors for me.
So I kept the nice clothes, but lost the tie.
One fine spring day, I found myself assigned to a business quite far north of the city who had been filing for the GST (now HST) for around 5 years, but they had been getting quite a lot of money in credits and for some reason had stopped filing, and their account had credits sitting there, un-issued.
Over the months proceeding this visit, I had called and left many messages and sent several letters, but there was no response, so I set up a visit during the day to initiate contact.
Upon arriving at the address I located in my Perlies, I realized I was in a very secluded, run down, commercial area which appeared to be pretty vacant – really odd for a weekday.
I approached the unit, the door was open, so I walked in and yelled, “hello, anyone here”.
I heard a voice respond back to me that I should enter the warehouse – that he were back there with another employee. The front foyer of this unit had some electronics and other electrical gadgets so I briefly stopped to make some quick notes as to what I thought this company did, as I made my way to the back.
Once in the warehouse, I was shocked…
In front of me was this huge dark, empty warehouse with a desk at the back of it. At the desk were 2 males, and there was one light on in the warehouse and it was just above the desk, like you would see on TV.
I stopped dead in my tracks.
“You can come closer”, the man sitting down calmly said to me.
“No thank you, I’d rather stay here”, I replied surveying the situation.
“What can I do for you?” said the other man, standing to the right of the man sitting at the desk, his arms crossed.
“I’m here from Revenue Canada, it would appear that there were some errors on your GST reports and I had left several messages but no one called me back, so I came to visit to see if we could resolve this in person”.
The response I got shocked me…
The man sitting down said to me; “Do you see that baseball bat behind the door?!? We use that to take care of people like you!” He then stood up.
I looked at the 2 of them and said; “The CRA owes you guys money, however I do not feel welcomed here so I am leaving.”
I turned around and left, hoping not to hear them come running after me. I must say thinking about it now that I must have raced out of there, and I remember my heart pounding – thinking about my family.
I had parked across the parking lot facing the unit so that when I arrived I could take notes in my car about the business – like traffic, registered names, condition of the building… I opened my door, sat down, locked my door and called my team leader. As the phone was ringing the 2 guys rushed out of the unit and came towards my car. I rolled down my window very slightly and told them I was talking to my boss and they should stay back from my car. I turned it on.
They asked me to hang up – said it was a misunderstanding, that they were expecting a “bill collector” and they had been harassed. They wanted the money owed to them as it might be enough to get this debt off their books. My TL answered the phone and I told him briefly the situation. I told the guys I would not leave my car, and have to come back with my TL, possibly tomorrow. I handed them both the information they needed including the missing returns and the amount of the credit on file with the CRA.
They stood there looking at me…
My TL told me to leave.
One week later we returned with the RCMP.
The place was raided, the men arrested and a bunch of weapons seized. All the electronics were stolen goods. The credit on the GST account was seized by the RCMP as having been proceeds from crime.
I closed the GST account.
From that day forth I realized some people are intimidated when they receive a visit from the tax department. I used this to my advantage, but never entered a building which made my spidy-sense tingle. From that day on I clearly identified myself and my intentions up front before I would enter a building or house. If it looked shady I would come back with another person bigger than myself (I’m 5 foot 11, 225 pounds). We looked like thugs there to break some legs. :)
So now you know.