Harlen: Helping businesses file their GST/HST returns with ease

Do your business tax obligations keep you up at night? Are you behind in filing your GST/HST returns and don’t know where to begin? Running a business is demanding and comes with many challenges, and dedicating time to managing one’s tax affairs might feel overwhelming for many Canadian businesses.

Luckily, there are people like Harlen who work behind the scenes at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to ensure that businesses have access to information, tools, and the resources they need to help file their GST/HST returns with ease.

If a business is struggling to meet their GST/HST obligations, they’ll be assigned to a CRA agent who will offer their support and assistance with each step of the filing process. Agents will also contact businesses to help answer any questions a business may have about their account. An agent is that person on the other end of the telephone helping and listening, so they can understand the unique tax situations of each business. At the same time, their role is to help people learn about and understand the filing process. Businesses have an obligation to charge, collect, pay, and file their GST/HST returns on a regular basis and the CRA wants to ensure people are not intimidated when it comes to managing their taxes.

From 2019 to 2022, Harlen worked as a programs officer and he provided front-line support to the CRA’s agents, stationed across the country. “We work hard to find ways to make GST/HST filing simpler for people and to help them solve common filing errors,” says Harlen. “Our work involves talking to agents to get their feedback and opinions, because they are the one’s on the ground speaking to businesses on a day-to-day basis and helping them sort out any filing issues,” he says.

Harlen and his team recently initiated a project that will allow CRA agents across Canada to become more equipped in helping businesses with their GST/HST queries. The project was launched on October 3rd, 2022. Through this project, the CRA will provide businesses or authorized representatives with NETFILE access codes over the phone, without having to refer them to the Business Enquiries call center or Canada.ca, which will make the GST/HST filing process easier and less time consuming.

NETFILE is a service that allows GST/HST registrants to file their returns directly to the CRA electronically. “Providing this code over the phone will help guide the registrant during the filing process, answer questions and ensure less time is spent trying to acquire missing information,” says Harlen. “In the past, we’ve heard that people felt frustrated by the multi-step process, so we’ve worked to streamline it so businesses can more easily acquire the code they need to NETFILE. “We’re always looking to our agents for suggestions about how we can make it easier for them. They know the real issues GST/HST filers are facing and that’s where we needed to start,” he says.

As Harlen said, “I want people to know how to file their returns so they can get their GST/HST refunds and credits. By hearing what people tell us and by simplifying the process, we hope people feel more confident in filing their GST/HST returns”

For more information on GST/HST filing, visit GST/HST - Canada.ca.

This story is part of a series to celebrate Small Business Week 2022.

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