News Canada

Canada Revenue Agency must do better job: Ombudsman

Jessica Hume. (Andre Forget/QMI AGENCY)

By Jessica Hume, National Bureau

Canada Revenue Agency headquarter in Ottawa, November 4, 2011.        (Chris Roussakis/QMI Agency)

Canada Revenue Agency headquarter in Ottawa, November 4, 2011. (Chris Roussakis/QMI Agency)

OTTAWA - The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) needs to do a better job of serving taxpayers, Canada's taxpayer ombudsman said Thursday.

After receiving a high volume of complaints over years from taxpayers saying payments they had made to the CRA had been "misallocated," Paul Dube launched an investigation which culminated in his report, entitled Getting it Right, which was released Thursday.

"My office has received many complaints from taxpayers who told us the payments they made to the CRA were misallocated, meaning the payments were not applied to the intended account," Dube said.

Many taxpayers have multiple accounts - for example, a personal income tax account, a corporate or business one as well as services - and harmonized sales tax accounts.

"As a result, some were wrongly assessed interest and penalty charges, while others were subjected to CRA collection demands."

Greg Thomas, director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, called these misallocations a "huge frustration" for individuals that "doesn't inspire public confidence in the CRA."

"CRA treats you like a number and then they lose your number," Thomas said.

Dube's report found a significant volume of misallocations were the result of human error within the CRA, which "could be more proactive in educating all taxpayers on how to avoid making errors when preparing their payments."

Dube's report made three recommendations: That the CRA review its procedure for payment processing; that the CRA determine how much workload their employees can reasonably undertake without significant human error; and better inform and educate taxpayers on how to avoid mistakes and better correct them when they do happen.

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