VANCOUVER -- It’s tax time, and because of the pandemic, there are some extra things you may need to do this year. But there have also been some new wrinkles: paying taxes on the CERB, claiming work from home expenses, maybe even virtual appointments with your accountant. And there have also been some hoops to jump through to make basic updates to your personal information.

When Michael Anhorn took a new job in Toronto last year, he knew a move across the country would be tough.

“Not sure I would recommend moving in the pandemic to anyone,” he told McLaughlin On Your Side. “But thankfully it went smoothly.” 

Smoothly, that is, until he had to update his address. 

“Getting a driver’s licence, the health card for Ontario – all of that went really well, except getting my address updated with CRA.” 

On the MyCRA online account, when he clicked “Update my address” he got an error message instructing him to call the agency. But when he called, he was stuck in a phone tree for five minutes, and then got this recorded message: 

“Due to high demand, all of our agents are currently busy and our agent queues are full. Please call back later.” 

Anhorn tried different times of day, even different days of the week, but couldn’t get through. He was frustrated, and couldn’t file his taxes online with the address change in place. 

“I would have to paper change them,” he said. “And given what the CRA’s going through, they don’t need more paper than they have to have.” 

We reached out to the CRA to find out why this was happening. 

In an email, a spokesperson said: “As a result of the cyber incidents that occurred in August 2020, the Canada Revenue Agency took swift action to secure taxpayer accounts. This included blocking some services within the online portals. Among these, the service to change your address, which is temporarily unavailable.” 

So if you can’t change your address online and the phone lines are too busy, how do you do it? Good old-fashioned snail mail. 

Fill out the form available online and mail it in. We tried it, and it took about two weeks to be processed and for the changes to be reflected in our account. 

For Anhorn – it took three months for his problem to be solved. He contacted his local government representatives and filed a formal complaint, but that didn’t do it. 

“I emailed again and CCed the media the second time I emailed,” he said. “And that’s when I got a response. The CRA called me and said, ‘Well, we can update your address on the phone.’ And then a couple of days later I logged back on and suddenly the function was working again.” 

For most accounts, the portal re-opened on March 14. But if you’re one of the 800,000 Canadians who have been locked out of their MyCRA accounts entirely because of the hack last year, you’ll have to find another way. 

When we talked to the CRA about not being able to get through on the phone, they said they were planning to hire more agents for this tax season, and contracting a third-party service provider to assist with capacity issues.