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Legal Ease
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Category: Canada Tax
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Experience:  Lawyer
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I studied online at an american regionally accredited university

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I studied online at an american regionally accredited university (the University of New England). I studied there from August 2010-May 2012 and graduated with a Master of Science in Education (Leadership) (which counted toward upgrading my license in all Canadian provinces). My 2010 taxes were reassessed in 2011 and they allowed the tuition from this institution in my study format (which on the university T-forms itself considers full time because there were times and dates I had to be online for forums and discussions) plus I was taking a full course load (the same as what in class students take), but the 2011 taxes were again reassessed (because they paid me back $7444) and they said the tuition did not count because I sent the wrong form (the american version instead of the Canadian one-it's an American school). They said I owed them back $2131. So I had the university send the right form and I appealed their decision. I got a call today that they would not allow my tuition amount of more than $8390 because I had to have attendance taken every day if I studied online (Firstly, no university takes attendance and I was required to attend discussions three times a week and was penalized in my grades if I did not-he argued and said it was not the case, but I could prove this much easily). He said he may possibly allow an education amount ($5300 or so) which, once reassessed (again) could mean I still owe them $800 or so. I had big returns the past four years and three out of the four years I had to go through reassessment (is this harassment?). He is calling me tomorrow to tell me the exact figure, but in my mind if I allow this and just pay it, what's to stop them from clawing back on the previous 2010 return because they had allowed it previously (let's face it they are now probably going to reassess that too right?) or this coming 2012 return in which I will have tuition amounts to claim? In my mind, the tuition amount should not have been excluded, and I shouldn't be going through reassessments year after year. Especially when last year they set the precedent that they would accept tuition amounts for my program. Basically I would like advice on what to do. This is definitely going to ruin christmas for my family. Did I mention I am a single mom who made $33,000 that year and spent $8390 of that on tuition (without loans)? and now I am on EI and I really can't afford to pay them $800 or a lawyer, but would getting a lawyer stop them from harassing me so much? If it did, it would be worth it...
Can you get documentation from the school to prove that you did have to be online?

Do they know this was not a self-directed course but that you had teachers online etc?

What province are you in?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I could likely get the syllabus' that detail this as well as a written letter from the school. I think they based their decision on what they read on the school's website and not from actually speaking to anyone at the school. I am in Nova Scotia. I tried to tell the Revenue Canada guy this over the phone, but he really would not hear it. I had a different profs for each class, and classmates. Even had to work on group projects with classmates all over the world. That is not exactly "self-directed."

I suggest you do get the syllabus and the letter from the school.

You can tell the CRA person you are dealing with that you are getting this prove you are correct.

And make it clear you will go through all appeal process right into Court if necessary.

And you can ask to speak to a supervisor as well and say you are not being listened to.
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