Government of Canada logoI’ve been filing Goods & Services Tax returns with the Canadian government without incident since 1991, so I was alarmed to receive a “Statement of Arrears” from Canada Revenue Agency.

A closer look revealed that the document was a new type of acknowledgement that the agency had received my payment. At the bottom, I saw the “processed amount,” which was how much I had paid and what they also termed the “amount assessed,” leaving a zero balance.

Soon after, when I had filed the newest quarterly return, I received a “Notice of (Re)Assessment,” with the explanation “We have processed your GST return for the period.”

At the best of times, governments seem to have a hard time communicating in plain, understandable language. In this case, they could certainly do a better job of calling a receipt just that, rather than a Statement of Arrears when there are none.

And how about adding a line to say, “We’ve recently introduced these forms to acknowledge your payment,” to explain why forms that have not appeared in 16 years are suddenly showing up? Sheesh.