A Disconnect? CRA Consultation Launches at the Height of Tax Season

Christine Steendam

On April 23rd, the height of the rush to the April 30 filing deadline, the CRA launched an online public consultation, requesting feedback on service improvements.  Worse, the feedback period closes on June 18 and that’s only one day after the June 17 proprietorship filing deadline. It would appear to be unfortunate timing considering professionals file 58% of all returns.

Details of the consultation. The consultation is intended to get feedback on features and services that have been implemented or improved upon by the CRA in the last three years, such as Auto-fill my return, the Simplified Correspondence Project, new modern telephone platform, and the community volunteer income tax program

Many changes occurred as a result of service standard criticisms from the 2018 Taxpayers’ Ombudsman Report. These improvements were designed to make tax filing season a simpler and less stressful time, which is positive. That being said, launching a public consultation at the height of tax season seems counterintuitive to making tax filing for Canadians easier and faster.

This public consultation will be used to supplement the input “the CRA is receiving through existing feedback channels, public opinion research projects, consultations, call centres and social media, which are already shaping service improvements.”

The CRA will also conduct 7 in-person consultations during May and June 2019 in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Mississauga, Montreal, Moncton, and Halifax. It does not sound as if these in-person consultations will be open to the public, though, since the news release states, “Up to 20 individuals and representatives of vulnerable populations will be invited by an independent third party to participate in each consultation session.”

Challenges with the timing of this consultation. The timing of this public consultation is, at best, unfortunate.  Even if unintentional, it leaves the impression the government may not be interested in the feedback of the professional tax filing community who know the services provided better than most. This disconnect is a missed opportunity for expert feedback.  

On the other hand, for those who did have time to react to the consult, this is the time that issues and problems with service levels at CRA are top of mind. Given that the consultation closes on June 18 - only one day after the June 17 proprietorship filing deadline - tax professionals will have to make an extra effort and find time in their already busy schedules to participate, if they’d like their voices to be heard.

Bottom line: It is important that the CRA hears your voice – even at such a busy time. If you’d like to complete the survey and help close the gap in the disconnect between the CRA and tax community, you can do so here until June 18, 2019: CRA Service Improvement Consultation

Additional Educational Resources: Take a deep dive into the March 19, 2019 federal budget and prepare for the next tax season at the Spring CE Summits in Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto taking place May 28-June 4. Enrol today!

 

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