Does Bankruptcy Clear Tax Debt?

Navigating Tax Debt in Canada: Does Bankruptcy Provide Relief?

Does bankruptcy clear tax debt in Canada? This question often arises when individuals or businesses face significant financial challenges. Let’s delve deeper into this topic, understanding the implications of bankruptcy on tax debt and exploring alternative solutions.

Understanding Tax Debt in Canada

In Canada, not fulfilling your tax obligations can lead to substantial tax debt. Various scenarios can lead to this, including:


  • Not submitting your personal income tax returns;
  • Neglecting to pay taxes on business revenue;
  • Inadequate payroll deductions from employers for those with multiple jobs;
  • Self-employed individuals failing to meet their HST payment obligations.


The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) imposes penalties and interest on unpaid amounts, which can grow rapidly over time, causing financial stress. However, the good news is that there are ways to obtain tax debt relief in Canada.

Consequences of Owing Money to the CRA

The CRA holds the power to enforce penalties such as garnishing your wages, seizing your bank accounts, or even registering a lien on your home. Understanding the broad collection powers of the agency is crucial. The sooner you address your CRA debt, the better.

Bankruptcy or a consumer proposal are two solutions that can halt CRA collection actions. However, it’s important to note that these paths should not be taken lightly due to their substantial financial implications.

Bankruptcy and Tax Debt in Canada

You may wonder, “Does bankruptcy eliminate tax debt in Canada?” When you declare bankruptcy in Canada, tax debt can be included. However, it’s important to know that bankruptcy isn’t the only solution to resolve tax debt. A consumer proposal is another option that provides debt relief from unsecured creditors, including the CRA.

The Impact of Filing Personal Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy can significantly impact your financial situation. While it discharges you from unsecured debts, such as credit cards, payday loans, utility bills, specific student loans, and tax debt, it also requires you to liquidate non-exempt assets to repay your creditors. Additionally, you will have to pay 50% of any surplus income over a certain threshold.

Assets that could potentially be liquidated in bankruptcy include:


  • Vacation and investment properties not considered as your primary residence;
  • Secondary vehicles;
  • Non-RRSP investments, including TFSAs, along with RRSP contributions made in the 12 months before filing;
  • Valuables such as jewelry, artwork, collectibles, etc.


Does Bankruptcy Eliminate Tax Debt in Canada?

Before 1992, the CRA held the status of a preferred creditor, allowing it to oppose a debtor’s discharge from income tax debt. However, post-1992, the CRA is considered an unsecured creditor, similar to banks, credit card companies, and other lenders. This change means that CRA debt can now be discharged unopposed. However, exceptions apply to those who owe over $200,000 in taxes, representing more than 75% of their proven debts.

Can a Consumer Proposal Clear Tax Debt in Canada?

A consumer proposal is another avenue to consider. It offers debt relief from unsecured creditors, including debt forgiveness from CRA, without requiring you to sell your assets or pay any surplus income. To initiate a consumer proposal, a consultation with a licensed insolvency trustee is necessary to review your finances. Once your income, expenses, and total debts are assessed, a fair monthly payment to all your creditors is determined. These payments can last up to five years, after which all debts covered by the proposal, including CRA debts, will be discharged.

Other Options When Owing the CRA Money

While insolvency can provide significant relief from CRA debt, there are reasons you may want to avoid it. Bankruptcy and consumer proposals can impact your credit score negatively for several years, making it challenging to qualify for loans in the future. Alternatively, you can also consider a debt consolidation option, but it’s important to approach it with caution.


If you’re dealing with CRA debt issues, discussing your options with a licensed insolvency trustee is the crucial first step. Solutions may include a consumer proposal or bankruptcy, which can put a stop to any further actions by the CRA. Dealing with CRA tax debt should be a top priority, considering the agency’s broad collection powers. However, it’s essential to remember that every debt situation has a solution.

Find Your Personal Debt Relief Solution

Licensed Insolvency Trustees are here to help. Get a free assessment of your options.

Discuss options to get out of debt with a trained & licensed debt relief professional.