Canada Revenue Agency shuts down online services after discovering 'internet vulnerability'

You may have a tough time filing your taxes this weekend.

The Canada Revenue Agency took its online services down at 1 p.m. Friday afternoon, after discovering an issue during website maintenance on Thursday night.

In an update posted on the CRA website, the agency said, “Upon becoming aware of an Internet vulnerability that affects some computer servers used by websites worldwide, we took down our online services, including electronic filing, and are taking steps to ensure that all information and systems remain safe.”  

The CRA said it isn’t aware of any personal information being affected but will continue to monitor the situation. 

Speaking to CBC around 2:30 p.m. Saturday, CRA spokesperson Patrick Samson said he does not have information on when online services will be available again. He said the CRA is currently working as quickly as it can to resolve the issue.

“Taxpayers can still fill their tax forms, but they will have to wait before they can file,” Samson said.

“We are doing everything in our power to establish services quickly.”

CRA website

Canadians are not currently able to access CRA’s online services, which means they can’t submit their taxes online. (Canada Revenue Agency)

CRA will notify people through social media when the online services are working again, he said.

Taxes for 2016 are due on or before April 30. However, because this date falls on a Sunday, CRA says it will consider returns filed on time if they receive it by midnight on May 1, or if it is postmarked May 1.

‘A domino effect’

Michael Ford, president of the Ford Group Professional Corporation based in Newmarket, Ont., said the issue prevents professional tax preparers and businesses like his from being able to e-file and do their jobs. 

“When the site does hopefully come back up, we’ll kind of have a domino effect,” he said. “Even though it’s still March and we’ve got until April 30, with a firm like ours that does over five hundred tax returns, it hiccups our appointments and scheduling and it puts us in a rush situation.”

Ford says his firm now has to reschedule appointments, which can be difficult for people who work during business hours. Not being able to file quickly also impacts low-income taxpayers more than those earning more.

“At this time of the year, low-income workers need their tax returns. They count on their tax returns and budget around that.”

Statistics Canada’s website is also unavailable. Samson said he is not aware of any connection between the problems.

Canada Revenue Agency CRA

The deadline for filing taxes this year is April 30, 2017. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)