‘ A friend of mine that is leaving Canada for a couple of years has asked me if she could use my address in order to receive her mail. Could I get in trouble for this ?’
This interesting question was recently raised by a client of mine. My immediate reflex was to ask her whether she knew why her friend was making such a request . She informed me that she had asked the question and that her friend’s reply was simply: for the convenience of receiving some of my mail in Canada.
To my client, this request initially seemed as a small favor. Receiving mail however, naturally implies receiving mail from government agencies, and that’s where things can get ugly!
So hypothetically, why would say, a 65 year old Canadian citizen leaving Canada for an extended period of time wish to retain a domicile in Quebec?
Well, There could be several reasons.
In the given example, if the person is receiving an old age pension, they could be trying to avoid the non-resident tax which is at a rate of 25%
This person may also be receiving social assistance which necessarily requires the person to be a resident in the province of Quebec.
Given Canada’s publicly funded medicare system, a person may wish to retain access to these services while abroad. A non-resident’s health care card would eventually expire and cannot be renewed unless the person has regained resident status in Canada.
So, what kind of trouble could I get in?
In the attempt to avoid the non-resident tax, you could be charged under section 239 of Income Tax Act for having participated in making a false statement. This is a crime punishable by summary conviction and one could be sentenced to a fine or even imprisonment.
By assisting the person to continue receiving social assistance cheques at your mailing address you could be charged by summary proceeding under section 39(c) of the Social Aid Act and could be liable to a fine not exceeding 200$, imprisonment, or both.
And finally, as far as health care is concerned, by participating in giving false information to the board under the Health Insurance Act, one is liable to fine ranging from 50 to 1000$. The least severe penalty, as it does not entail a criminal conviction.
With all these possible penalties, allowing a friend to use your mailing address is not such a small favor after all!