Lori: Working to make business tax information easier
Have you ever had a paper form in hand and gone online to clarify something, only to pull up information that “seems” the same but doesn’t match the information that you have on paper? Then, since the online information doesn’t match, you end up more confused than you were in the first place?
Lori knows exactly what this is like. She has been working at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for 28 years in various roles that deal with business tax information. Her current responsibility, simply put, is to make sure that the information displayed in My Business Account (MyBA), a secure online portal that allows businesses to interact electronically with the CRA, match the schedules and forms that are available on paper.
“It can seem like such a small thing but it really isn’t,” says Lori. “I was recently responsible for making sure the online and paper forms matched when the Agency made enhancements to the display in MyBA for business tax returns. It’s great to make what people see on screen better but if the schedules, forms, running lines, and descriptions don’t match, line by line, with the paper forms, it doesn’t matter how good it all looks. If it causes confusion to the people who are using the system, then we haven’t done our job right.”
A paper T2 return is nine pages long. Before the enhancements to the display in MyBA were made, taxpayers would see one huge table on screen with different lines and boxes that carried on with no breaks. Lori’s team went in and broke the table down into different parts so the online information looks exactly the same as the paper form.
“We made sure that the online form mirrors the paper form, with all the same section breaks and headings,” says Lori. “It is now much easier to read online and my role was to make sure that every line item is the same as what’s on the paper form. I take my role very seriously – I actually get teased about it because it’s the first thing I mention any time any kind of change is mentioned.
“I’ve spent my career at the CRA working with business tax information and at times dealing directly with businesses. I know that with a nine-page return there are so many schedules and line items that can seem overwhelming, so we need to make it as clear as possible,” she says. “And I also know that it’s usually the little guys, the mom-and-pop shops, who end up having the difficulty with things like this because they don’t have a big support system backing them up.”
Lori is passionate about making things as easy as possible for the people using the information she is working on.
“The business, the taxpayer – the person who is sitting out there in the world trying to figure this stuff out – they are always who I am thinking of. I’m always thinking about how we can make it easier for that person because I know how frustrating it can be even to someone with experience in all this, how hard it can be to know that you’ve got it right.”
This story is part of a series to celebrate Small Business Week 2022.
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