The federal budget proposes to increase service delivery at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) by investing $185.8 million over five years, starting in 2016–17, and $14.6 million on an ongoing basis.
Although this investment is promising, the budget does not provide details about how frontline service delivery will be improved and what resources will be allocated to boost staffing following the Conservative cuts.
Better access by phone
- CRA answers over 23 million calls in a typical year yet Canadians still have trouble getting through. Budget funds will be used to enhance telephone services and caller accessibility
- Reduce wait times on the phone
- Pilot a new dedicated telephone support line for tax service providers, giving them greater access to CRA information
- CRA sends out over 130 million pieces of correspondence each year, many of which are confusing. Budget funds will be used to revamp the structure, design and format of the Agency’s correspondence to make it easier to understand.
More help for lower-income Canadians
CRA works with local community organization volunteers to help some Canadians with modest incomes complete their tax returns. Budget funds will be used to:
- Expand this community-based program
- Implement a targeted strategy to reach lower-income Canadians who may be eligible for tax credits
Political activity by registered charities
CRA, in consultation with the Department of Finance, will hold discussions with charities, including an online consultation, to clarify the rules governing the political activities of charities.
Cracking down on tax evasion
The budget proposes to invest $444.4 million over five years for CRA to enhance its efforts to crack down on tax evasion and combat tax avoidance by:
- Hiring additional auditors and specialists
- Developing robust business intelligence infrastructure
- Increasing verification activities
- Improving the quality of investigative work that targets criminal tax evaders
This investment is expected to yield an extra $2.6 billion over five years.
While CRA will direct more of its compliance efforts to crack down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, the budget also proposes making it easier for taxpayers to avoid errors and comply with their tax obligations.