OTTAWA, February 21, 2020 –Today, the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman, Sherra Profit, released Sub-Standard, a systemic examination into delays and lack of transparency in the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) processing of individual income tax and benefit returns and adjustment requests.
These delays have been one of the top complaints to the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman. The examination was launched in March 2019, and looks at the CRA’s processes, its published service standards, how it reports against those standards, and service issues that arise from delays in processing individual income tax and benefit returns and adjustment requests.
Despite the CRA reporting that it mostly meets or exceeds its published service standards for the processing of individual income tax returns and adjustments requests, this does not necessarily align with peoples’ experience. Lack of clarity in the CRA’s published information leaves many filers unaware their returns and adjustment requests may be excluded from or processed outside of the CRA’s published service standard timeframes. When filers contact the CRA, they are not provided clear and precise information on how long it will take to process their returns and adjustment requests.
The Ombudsman provides recommendations to the Minister of National Revenue and the Chair of the CRA’s Board of Management on how the CRA can improve its service standards and processes, and increase its accountability and transparency, to ensure all filers are afforded the right to complete, accurate, clear and timely information, and are treated fairly, per articles 5, 6, 11 and 13 of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
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“Publishing timeliness service standards is an important part of the CRA’s relationship with filers. It is also a right, as outlined in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The CRA needs to find ways to reduce delays of the processing of returns and adjustment requests and do a better job of letting filers know how long it will actually take to process their return or adjustment request.”
Sherra Profit, Taxpayers’ Ombudsman
“The delays and lack of clear and accurate information from the CRA about expected processing timeframes is frustrating to filers and can lead to personal and financial hardship. Filers want to understand when they can expect their return or adjustment request to be processed and, if it is delayed past that time, why it is delayed, and when they can expect it to be completed.”
Sherra Profit, Taxpayers’ Ombudsman
About the Ombudsman
· The Taxpayers’ Ombudsman is responsible for advising the Minister of National Revenue on matters relating to services provided by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
· The Ombudsman may initiate a systemic examination at the request of the Minister or on her own initiative. Service issues are deemed systemic when they may impact a large number of persons or a segment of the population. Recommendations arising from these examinations aim to improve the service provided by the CRA.
· For a list of systemic examinations visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/taxpayers-ombudsman/programs/reports-publications/special-reports.html
· For a complete list of reports, recommendations and CRA’s responses to the Ombudsman’s recommendations visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/taxpayers-ombudsman/programs/examining-systemic-issues/influencing-change.html
Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman
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