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Canada Revenue Agency justified in opening mail in alleged tax evasion case

An individual being investigated for alleged tax evasion complained CRA auditors opened the sealed mail found on his desk.

The complainant argued auditors had violated the provisions of a search warrant which allowed them to search for and seize information relating to transactions from 1996 to 2001. The mail on his desk was postmarked after that period. The complainant also stated auditors opened mail belonging to family members.

The CRA acknowledged it had opened mail postmarked after the dates specified in the search warrant, stating this was done to determine whether there were any documents relevant to its tax evasion investigation. The agency argued mail with a later postmark could relate to transactions under investigation. The CRA also stated the search warrant specifically referred to family members who were part of the investigation.

The complaint was not well-founded. CRA officials had the legal authority to enter the complainant’s premises and conduct a search for and seize documents relevant to their investigation. The search warrant did not restrict the CRA from opening mail that was postmarked beyond the dates specified.

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