Owners of private campgrounds across Canada have been caught off-guard by news that they can no longer claim a small business tax credit.

Terrie Sage and her husband own the 80-site Sage Campground on Whistle Bare Road in Cambridge.

She says they learned of the change last fall, when CRA notified them that they owed an additional $36,000 for the 2013 and 2014 tax years.

If that amount wasn’t paid immediately, they’d be on the hook for $250 per month in interest charges.

“We are one of the smaller campgrounds, so I can’t imagine what the bigger campgrounds are facing,” she said in an interview.

At issue, CRA says, is that some private campgrounds exist primarily for rental income – meaning they shouldn’t qualify for the tax credit.

Another campground owner in southern Ontario is facing a taxi bill of nearly $250,000.

Sage says the reclassification will have a “severe impact” on her business.

“We have operating expenses, and a lot of services that we have to offer in order to maintain the campgrounds,” she said.

“We’d like to be treated as a small business, because we are (one).”

Campground operators have found an ally in Jim Hudson, executive director of the Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation.

“Our campground operators provide essential seasonal accommodation in critical, high-demand areas that are underserviced by hotels and motels. To weaken this sector would be a shame,” Hudson told CTV News in a statement.

At Green Acre Park in north Waterloo, administrators say they’re not impacted by the change.

Because they have more than five full-time employees, they say, they remain eligible for the credit.