Julie: Saving time by turning online

What’s the difference between a hippo and zippo? One is really big, and the other is a little lighter.

To start the day with a laugh, and to unify her team, Julie concludes her morning email with a joke or a riddle.

“We have a great team spread out from Newfoundland to Ontario,” she says. “I started sending these riddles to give the team a smile everyday. In this new work environment, it is especially important to be conscious of mental health.”

As manager for the Special Elections and Returns Processing and Development Section at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), Julie oversees the processing and modernization of special elections and returns (SERs). A special election is an optional filing for private corporations. There are various types of regular elections, and four different complex SERs. The  complex special elections are processed at the Prince Edward Island (PEI) Tax Centre (TC) located in Summerside. The regular special elections are processed in PEI, Sudbury, Ontario, and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Currently, special elections and returns sent to the three TCs are still filed on paper. Generally, businesses verify their capital dividend account (CDA) balance prior to filing their T2054 election. Before fall 2021, when a business wanted to verify their CDA balance, they would have to call the CRA Business Enquiries Line. The Business Enquiries Line would then work with the PEI TC who would call the business back. Taxpayers can now access their CDA balances online through My Business Account.

In March 2020, as Julie’s team was working to move this process online, they (and the majority of the Agency) were suddenly not able to go to the office because of the pandemic. Since the complex special elections were all filed by paper and processed in one location, they were not able to access them during the lockdown. Even after restrictions were eased, managing paper files remained a challenge as a limited number of employees could go into the building. The temporary solution required a large investment in scanners and computer monitors to send requested files to SERs officers

“The pandemic highlighted both the challenges of election filing by paper and the potential for digital services,” says Julie. Her team dug in and since fall 2021, businesses are able to view their CDA balance online in My Business Account. By end of fall 2022, businesses will be able to file three types of special elections electronically. The eventual end-to-end solution is the transition to a completely digital process.

Julie has worked at the CRA since the Summerside TC opened in 1993. Growing up, she wanted to become a band teacher. But after hearing that PEI was considering cutting the music program in schools, Julie made alternate career plans. Over the years, she has built strong relationships within her community, some with whom she has worked alongside since the beginning of her career.

Her passion for the job comes from her belief in public service. Julie recognizes that the government has a responsibility to devote taxpayer money on improving services for Canadians. The team's commitment to putting people first allows them to make decisions that benefit Canadians, like digitizing services.

“It has taken a tremendous effort to make this happen. We do not always agree when we work together, but we are all in it for the right reasons. We all have the same goal. We are just trying to make filing special elections and returns easier for everyone.”

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

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