Canada Revenue Agency Departmental Performance Report 2013-14

Section 2: Analysis of programs by strategic outcomes

Program: Taxpayer and business assistance

The CRA is committed to providing taxpayers with the accurate and timely information they need to comply with Canada's tax laws. Our website is organized according to taxpayer needs, providing detailed information about CRA programs and services for individuals and families, businesses, charities and giving, and representatives. Taxpayers with more complex information needs can contact our call centres, refer to our publications and videos, or consult our technical interpretations and rulings services. To further support taxpayers, we regulate charities and monitor and administer deferred income and savings plans to ensure they meet legislative requirements.

Taxpayer and business assistance Financial resources
(in dollars)
Financial resources
(in dollars)
Human resources (FTEs) Human resources (FTEs)
Main Estimates  538,836,440   -  
Total authorities  359,692,453   -  
Planned     575,621,1361,2   4,038
Actual     350,801,6991,3   3,976
Difference (planned minus actual)       224,819,4374   62

Sub-program descriptions 

Sub-program Description
Taxpayer services – Enquiries The program develops and maintains information services that help taxpayers to voluntarily comply with Canada’s tax laws. It provides taxpayers with access to timely and accurate responses to their telephone and written tax enquiries through our website as well as other targeted services.
Taxpayer services – Information products The program is responsible for providing tax information on the CRA’s website and information products like pamphlets, brochures, and tax packages.
Policy, rulings, and interpretations The program is responsible for the official CRA positions on the interpretation of the acts administered by the CRA. It clarifies tax issues that taxpayers, registrants, and tax intermediaries may be facing by explaining how legislation applies to specific situations and informs them on tax and Canada Pension Plan/Employment Insurance matters by issuing rulings, interpretations, technical publications, and newsletters. The program provides early certainty to taxpayers through advance, binding rulings and non-binding interpretations. The program develops legislative policy in collaboration with the Department of Finance Canada and offers specialized legislative policy and administrative services to other Canadian government organizations.
Registered plans The program is responsible for all activities related to the provisions of the Income Tax Act for deferred income and savings plans. It provides information through its webpages and outreach activities, and by helping taxpayers through its telephone enquiry line and written communication services. It registers, audits, and approves contributions to these plans to ensure compliance.
Charities The program is responsible for administering the national registration program for charities, registered Canadian amateur athletic associations, and registered national arts service organizations. The program is responsible for activities that span the full spectrum of the compliance continuum including registration, communications and outreach, processing and examination, audit and enforcement, and policy and technical guidance.
Charities – Public safety and anti-terrorism  The program protects the integrity of the registration system for charities under Canada’s Income Tax Act by screening applications and monitoring registered charities for the risk of terrorist involvement.

Taxpayer services – Enquiries and information products

Enquiries
Taxpayer services Financial resources
(in dollars)
Human resources
(FTEs)
Planned 154,418,509 2,361
Actual  167,965,933 2,412
Difference (13,547,424) (51)
Information products
Taxpayer services Financial resources
(in dollars)
Human resources
(FTEs)
Planned 8,744,872 127
Actual 10,929,629 105
Difference (2,184,757) 22

The CRA continues to adapt and strengthen its programs and services to keep pace with the evolving needs and expectations of taxpayers, and to effectively fulfill its mandate. An important aspect of taxpayer services is to proactively share information so taxpayers are aware of changes affecting them, understand their options, and continue to receive the information and support they need to meet their tax obligations.

We communicate tax information through many different channels, allowing taxpayers to choose how and where to get the information they need. Our website continues to be the mainstay of our communications efforts. In December 2013, the CRA re-launched its website, featuring a more user-friendly approach to providing information and services based on four taxpayer segments: individuals and families, businesses, intermediaries, and charities. The website is now designed to display on any device, including smartphones, tablets, or PCs. We also improved the website search function, making it easier and faster for the public to find the information they need.

The CRA continues to use social media to extend its communications reach in response to burgeoning demand. For example, video-based content on the Web is increasing in popularity, prompting the CRA to add informative videos about taxes and benefits to its branded YouTube channel, generating almost 40,000 views. In addition, the CRA maintains an active Twitter presence with over 37,000 followers.

While we continue to expand our online presence, the CRA recognizes some segments of the taxpayer population want or need alternative sources of information and support. We continue to offer other options such as telephone services.

22M

DID YOU KNOW?
We answered over 22 million tax and benefits calls through agents and automated services

Handling Taxpayer Calls

The CRA responds to millions of calls each year and, in 2013-2014 alone, we handled 16.9 million tax calls and 5.6 million benefits calls. This year, we expanded our range of telephone services. Some examples include:

  • We began accepting direct deposit registration over the telephone, which made it faster and easier for individual taxpayers to start taking advantage of direct deposit.
  • We integrated our National Forms Call Centre into the national telephone network. We also introduced a new system enabling call centre agents to respond to requests for forms or publications by emailing a direct link to the required document.
  • We integrated GST/HST rebate calls into the national telephone network.
  • We supported the Charities program enquiries service by handling charities calls during evening hours through the national telephone network.

Outreach

Our outreach efforts continue to focus on educating and assisting taxpayers so they can meet their tax obligations and be informed about their eligibility for benefits. In 2013-2014, we expanded our audience through our work with community organizations. This increased awareness among the taxpayer segments most likely to benefit from assistance, including Aboriginal peoples, seniors, newcomers, and youth.

We used online videos and webinars to communicate up-to-date information about our programs and initiatives to taxpayers. This technology is convenient, easy to use, and allows us to reach a greater number of taxpayers, including those who live in remote locations. This year, we released a two-part student series, and the video "Newcomers to Canada and the Canadian Tax System" was posted onto YouTube. We also hosted a webinar for new small businesses during Small Business Week.

Through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP), the CRA arranges for volunteers to help taxpayers. The focus is on preparing returns for taxpayers with lower incomes and simple tax situations. In 2013-2014, we added to the number of organizations providing a national endorsement of CVITP, increasing from two to six.

125M

Our website received over 125 million visits

Key results:

  • We received over 125 million visits to our website.
  • Over 21 million forms and publications were downloaded.
  • We issued 631 tweets in 2013-2014 that were retweeted 2,398 times.
  • CRA YouTube videos posted on our website generated almost 40,000 views.
  • We answered 16.9 million tax and 5.6 million benefit calls through agents and automated services.

Policy, rulings, and interpretations

Policy, rulings, and interpretations Financial resources
(in dollars)5
Human resources
(FTEs)
Planned 80,133,209 1,045
Actual   81,385,344 997
Difference (1,252,135) 48

In February 2014, Canada and the United States signed an intergovernmental agreement with regard to the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. As a result, Canadian financial institutions are required to identify account holders that are U.S. persons, including U.S. residents and U.S. citizens. Canadian financial institutions will report this information to the CRA annually starting in 2015.

To ensure Canadian privacy laws are respected, the CRA will then exchange the information with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service through the existing provisions and safeguards of the Canada-U.S. Tax Convention. The treaty contains robust safeguards to ensure the Internal Revenue Service will treat taxpayer information confidentially, and use the information solely to administer tax laws.

During the reporting period, we developed services to help financial institutions comply with Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act legislation. We are now moving ahead with publishing administrative guidance, releasing a new information return, and developing appropriate exchange of information capacities to fulfill Canada's obligations under the agreement.

Improved Access to Technical Information

The CRA recognizes that taxpayers, tax professionals, and industry associations rely on us for current and accurate technical tax information to provide early certainty on tax matters, help prevent errors, and in some cases eliminate the need for new rulings.

The CRA publishes a wide range of technical documents intended to provide CRA's interpretation of income and commodity tax laws as they apply to the most significant aspects of a particular subject. These publications are not a substitute for the law, nor can they explain how every provision of the law will apply to all potential situations. Where there is a change to an interpretative position described in these technical publications, or when other important developments occur that are relevant to the contents, we update the information.

In 2013, the CRA began replacing its existing income tax interpretation bulletins with new, more user-friendly publications called income tax folios, which are prepared in consultation with the tax community. In addition to starting more than a dozen new folios throughout 2013-2014, the existing published folios were updated for numerous legislative and other changes.

Our technical publications are widely used, serving as an important resource for taxpayers, tax professionals, and industry associations across Canada, as well as for our staff. To maximize the usefulness of income tax folios, we sought feedback from external tax organizations early in their development phase. The input helped to decide which interpretation bulletins should be converted into folios first, and provided insight into what new and emerging topics would be good candidates for new publications. We also established a pilot project with the Canadian Tax Foundation and the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada to develop draft income tax folio chapters.

In 2013-2014, the CRA sought input from key external stakeholders on draft GST/HST technical publications with significant content or policy changes, tapping into their practical experiences and industry knowledge to help minimize information gaps.

Key results:

  • We completed 3,135 GST/HST rulings and interpretations.
  • We provided 2,841 income tax technical interpretations.
  • We provided 161 advance income tax rulings.
  • We completed 46,072 CPP/EI rulings, issuing 93% within target timeframes.

Registered plans

Registered plans Financial resources
(in dollars)
Human resources
(FTEs)
Planned 16,577,413 168
Actual   17,255,285 161
Difference (677,872) 7

The CRA enforces the provisions of the Income Tax Act pertaining to deferred income and savings plans, by registering and monitoring the plans and by approving the deductibility of employer contributions to defined benefit pension plans. Canadians rely heavily on registered plans to help them plan and secure income for the future. In 2013-2014 we oversaw approximately $1.97 trillion in deferred income and savings plan assets.

The CRA monitors the sector to ensure integrity, confirming all plans comply with legislative requirements. We are updating our information technology systems to better use the vast amount of data associated with registered plans and to assess the associated compliance risk. As a result, the number of RRSP issuers that submitted contract information electronically tripled from the previous year.

Helping with Pooled Registered Pension Plans

Pooled registered pension plans (PRPPs) are deferred income plans designed to provide retirement income for employees and self-employed individuals who do not have access to a workplace pension. PRPPs may pool the funds in the accounts of participating employees and self-employed persons (i.e., members) to achieve lower costs in relation to investment management and plan administration. The option to establish PRPPs, as well as the applicable income tax rules, came into effect in December 2012. Under Economic Action Plan 2013, the federal government announced it would work closely with the provinces to encourage implementation of PRPPs across Canada.

During 2013-2014 the CRA worked with the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions to prepare and deliver a webinar designed to help the provinces introduce enabling legislation for PRPPs. The webinar has been posted on the CRA website for future reference as the provinces implement PRPPs in their jurisdictions.

Key results:

  • We reviewed 89% of the applications to register pension plans within 180 days.
  • We responded to 89% of written enquiries within 60 days.
  • We conducted 549 audits of registered plans.

$14B

DID YOU KNOW?
Over $14 billion in donation receipts were issued to Canadians in 2012

Charities

Charities Financial resources
(in dollars)
Human resources
(FTEs)
Planned 28,150,543 300
Actual  26,249,492 260
Difference 1,901,051 40

Registered charities play an integral role in communities across the country, and Canadians donate billions of dollars each year to support charities in their work. In 2012, registered charities issued over $14 billion in official donation receipts. The estimated cost of revenues foregone by the government in 2012 as a result of these charitable exemptions was $3.5 billion.

The CRA has a responsibility to safeguard the interests of taxpayers by ensuring registered charities meet their legal obligations. We review applications for charitable status, and monitor and guide organizations to ensure they qualify for or maintain charitable status, as required by the Income Tax Act. In addition, to help Canadians make their donations wisely, we maintain a searchable list of Canadian charities. Donors can use the list to confirm whether a charity is registered under the Income Tax Act and can therefore issue official donation receipts. The list also provides financial information and describes the activities of each registered charity.

In 2013-2014, the CRA continued to implement the measures announced by the Government of Canada in Budget 2012 related to charities and political activities. We developed and published new educational products to help charities understand the rules governing political activities, including a self-assessment questionnaire, a new webinar, and a series of videos. We also monitored the political activities of charities, to ensure they complied with existing rules. We reviewed the annual information returns (Form T3010), sent letters reminding charities of the rules, and performed audits. As the rules relating to political activity apply to all registered charities, the CRA's educational and compliance efforts related to political activities have extended to the charitable sector as a whole.

In June 2013, we launched a new application process for municipal or public bodies performing a function of government in Canada, and for low-cost housing corporations for the elderly, enabling the public bodies to register as qualified donees. This application process was necessary because of the changes made to the definition of a qualified donee in Budget 2011.

Budget 2014 included new measures to reduce the administrative burden on charities and encourage charitable giving. These included redesigning the CRA's Charities Assessment Registration System and the Charities Internet Display System. Once the redesign is complete, we will be able to offer new electronic services, including online filing of Form T3010, Registered Charity Information Return and Form T2050, Application to Register a Charity Under the Income Tax Act.

Key results:

  • We responded to 85% of charities calls in the telephone enquiries queue within two minutes.
  • We processed 83,916 registered charity information returns.
  • We audited 845 charities.
  • We revoked the registered status of 1,612 charities—936 voluntary revocations, 644 for delinquency, 23 for cause, and 9 for loss of corporate status.

Performance results

Strategic outcome: Taxpayers meet their obligations and Canada's revenue base is protected.
Program/sub-programs
Taxpayer and business assistance
Expected results Performance indicators Targets Actual Results
Taxpayers and businesses have access to the information and services they require to voluntarily comply with tax laws Percentage of information products provided in print and on the Web site on time as per work plans to address taxpayer information needs 95% 84%
Compliance with applicable legislation by organizations and businesses administering and/or producing registered plans, charities, and excise dutiable products is improved Percentage of charities, registered plans and commodity audits completed, compared to planned 90% 104.3%
Program/sub-programs
Taxpayer services – Enquiries and information products 
Expected results Performance indicators Targets Actual Results
Taxpayers and businesses have access to timely and accurate responses to their tax enquiries Percentage of tax calls (individual and business enquiries) answered within two minutes of entering the agent queue 80% 80.5%
  Percentage of tax callers (individual and business) who succeed in reaching our telephone service 85% 86%
  Percentage of accurately updated internal reference materials for taxpayer services agents 100% 100%
Program/sub-programs 
Policy, rulings, and interpretations 
Expected results Performance indicators Targets Actual Results
Taxpayers and businesses receive timely rulings and interpretations under the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act, and various other federal legislation Advance income tax rulings issued within 90 business days) 85% 75%6
 
  Technical interpretations issued within 90 business days 85% 87%
  GST/HST rulings and interpretations – respond to written requests within 45 business days (this excludes highly technical and precedent- and/or policy- setting rulings and interpretations) 80% 74%7
Non-compliance with the Excise Act and the Excise Act, 2001 with respect to dutiable products is detected and addressed Percentage of planned excise regulatory reviews and excise compliance activities that are completed 90% 97.5%
Program/sub-programs 
Registered plans
Expected results Performance indicators Targets Actual Results
Registered plan administrators and their agents receive timely service in response to applications Percentage of registered plan applications reviewed within the established time frames
(180 days)
85% 89%
Non‐compliance by registered plan administrators and their agents with legislation and regulations pertaining to registered plans is detected and addressed Percentage of registered plan audits completed, compared to planned 100% 126%
Program/sub-programs 
Charities 
Expected results Performance indicators Targets Actual Results
Enhanced service to registered charities and applicants for charitable status Percentage of charities calls responded to within two minutes 80% 85%
  Percentage of charitable registration applications that are reviewed and responded to within established time frames (two months for simple applications and six months for regular applications) 80% 95%
Compliance in the charitable sector is improved  Percentage of charities that file their annual information return on time 80%

87.5%

  Percentage of charities who are audited that are known to be participating in abusive tax shelter schemes 100% 93%

Footnote 1: Includes Charities – Public security and anti-terrorism sub-program:
 – planned spending ($4,596,590) and actual spending ($4,671,341)

Footnote 2: Planned spending has been restated from the Canada Revenue Agency 2013-2014 Report on Plans and Priorities to distribute the real property accommodations funding (previously centralized in program 7 – internal services) to all applicable programs. Planned spending excludes severance payments, parental benefits, vacation credits and the carryforward of unused funds from 2012-2013 pursuant to the Canada Revenue Agency's two-year spending authority. This funding is received during the fiscal year and is only included in actual spending.

Footnote 3: The figure represents the actual spending for the CRA on a modified cash basis, based on Parliamentary appropriations used. See pages 106-107 of the Annual Report to Parliament for an explanation of how actual spending relates to results in the CRA Financial Statements – Agency Activities.

Footnote 4: Decrease primarily due to lower than planned payments related to the Canada/US softwood lumber agreement. The decrease was partially offset by increased payments associated with severance, benefits, and vacation credits.

Footnote 5: Excludes statutory payments related to Canada/US softwood lumber agreement – planned spending ($283,000,000) and actual spending ($42,344,675).

Footnote 6: Some resources diverted from providing rulings to train new technical staff and develop new initiatives (e.g., folios).

Footnote 7: Results improved (from 71% at the start of December to 74% at the end of March) when resources were reallocated and inventory management strategies were implemented.

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