Pros Comment on CRA’s Services

Beth Graddon

As the April 30 tax filing deadline rapidly approaches, we’ve been hearing from the tax filing community about long, long waits for urgently needed CRA answers to client issues. More are having success obtaining information through the CRA Represent a Client Portal. However, it seems their phone service is proving to be a challenge for both taxpayers and tax pros alike. Greg Clark of Greg Clark Accounting and Tax Inc. in Winnipeg shares his experience:

Greg set out to get clarification from the CRA on two issues by accessing the expanded T1 telephone enquiry line, which is now available until 9:00 pm Monday to Friday, and Saturdays until 5:00 pm local time. His two questions related to a testamentary trust with net capital losses built up over the years within the trust and an existing inter vivos trust formed to hold shares in a private investment corporation which now needs to be wound up

Here’s how this experience went, in his own words:

Saturday, March 27th at about 2:30 pm . I was put on hold until about 4:45 where I was abruptly told by an automated voice that I would have to call back at another time.

Monday, March 29th at 5:45 pm . I was on hold until 8:45 pm when I received the automated voice saying, “Due to technical difficulties, please call back at another time.”

Tuesday, March 30th at 8:40 am . I was on hold for 1.5 hrs when the phone went dead. I finally was able to get into the queue again at 1:20 pm when after 2 hrs & 59 minutes, the automated voice comes on the line saying, “Due to technical difficulties, please call back at another time.”

Wednesday, March 31st at 8:25 am . I could not get into the queue. At 8:40 am got into the queue and was told the wait would be 2+ hours. 2 ½ hrs later, I spoke to a live body (while listening to the same music over and over with the abrupt silences, I was reminded that the CRA staff would not tolerate abusive behaviour from callers).

I told this person that I needed to be transferred to the “Trust Section.” I began another hold period. At 11:10 am, I was given the option of a “Call Back” where I would receive a call in 30 to 40 minutes. I was called back at 12:14 pm. I spoke with a fellow in the Trust Section who was able to answer my first question. BUT, he was not trained in inter vivos trusts and therefore would have to transfer me to someone who was.

This transfer began at 12:19 pm. I spoke with a live person at 2:08 pm who said I had been transferred to the wrong area. I told this person I need to speak with someone about inter vivos trusts.

I finally spoke with a live person about my inter vivos trust question at 4:25 pm. He partially answered the question but suggested that I speak with a tax lawyer who knew their way around inter vivos trusts.

We ended the call at 4:37 pm.

What has your experience been with the CRA’s service standards this tax season? Weigh in on our April poll question , which asks, “In your view, has CRA’s service level to professional tax advisors improved this year?” and share your comments!