Departmental Plan 2017-18

Planned results

To ensure that Canada's voluntary self-assessment tax system is sustained by providing taxpayers with the support and information they need to understand and fulfill their tax obligations, and by taking compliance and enforcement action when necessary to uphold the integrity of the system, offering avenues for redress whenever taxpayers may disagree with an assessment/decision.

Service to Canadians

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) places a high priority on providing information and services, meeting diverse needs, and treating all Canadians fairly, equally, and respectfully. The CRA is continually improving its services to help taxpayers meet their tax obligations and receive the benefits to which they are entitled. We want people who interact with us to feel like valued clients, not just taxpayers, through interactions that are easy, helpful, fair, and consistent.

The CRA is working to improve its service model by:

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There are 4 squares in this image and each square describes how CRA is improving its service model.

The first square providing timely and accurate information
The second square making it easier to comply with tax obligations
The third square responding to the expectations and needs of canadians
The fourth square providing fair and impartial review

Providing timely and accurate information

The CRA strives to provide taxpayers with the accurate and timely information they need through its website, social media, written communication, and call centres. The CRA is making it easier for individuals and businesses to access the information they need, providing them with early certainty to help manage their tax affairs with greater confidence and comply with Canada's tax laws.

In developing its service improvement initiatives, the CRA took into account Treasury Board Secretariat's Policy on Service and that policy's requirements on such matters as real time service delivery performance.

Digital communication

The CRA website is the mainstay of our communication efforts. There are more than 180 million visits to www.cra-arc.gc.caiii every year to find information, forms, and answers to tax-related questions.

We are active in the government-wide Web Renewal Initiative, which will make all CRA website content available on Canada.caiv in 2018. Once complete, Canadians will be able to easily find tax and benefit information.

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This image shows the various ways we communicate with taxpayers.Left to right is Twitter, then YOuTube, by telephone or through online services available in CRA's website.

Canadians also seek information online through videos on the CRA's branded YouTube channel and through messages from the Agency's Twitter account @CanRevAgency. Recognizing the increasing importance of social media, the CRA will develop and implement a social media strategy to prioritize digital media for Canadians who favour these forms of communication.

Telephone services

While our digital services continue to grow in popularity, some Canadians prefer to pick up the phone and call the CRA, sometimes for clarification on a technical issue or for information about a specific file. The CRA answers more than 23 million calls every year from taxpayers and benefit recipients. We will continue to improve our telephone services to meet the needs of this population.

Over the planning period, and using Budget 2016 investments, the CRA will modernize its call centres so Canadians receive a higher standard of service. The CRA will leverage new contact centre technology to provide a modern, robust, consistent call centre platform. This new technology will provide new features such as call-back options and access to enhanced tools for reporting and monitoring by 2020.

We are undertaking an initiative to further analyse the main reasons for calling the CRA, with a view to improving telephone access and service. We have developed a five-point action plan for the most frequent reasons for calling and, after the action plan is implemented, caller demand for more simple enquiries should be significantly reduced. The key to success is to answer calls quickly, without as many busy signals. As part of the plan, agents will encourage callers to use our easy-to-use self-service and digital service tools.

The CRA will run a pilot project through 2020 to offer income tax service providers, such as accountants and bookkeepers, a dedicated telephone service separate from our general lines. Income tax service providers provide general audit, accounting, and income tax services to individuals and businesses and often have complex income tax technical enquiries. This pilot will offer the technical expertise to answer specialized questions and free up our phone agents to answer general type inquiries calls more quickly.

Written correspondence

The CRA sends out approximately 130 million pieces of correspondence each year. It is important for recipients of our letters to easily understand them and know what action they need to take.

To this end, we have already made many of our notices and letters more straightforward and easier to read and, using Budget 2016 investments, will continue to improve the design, style, clarity, and tone of our written correspondence to Canadians.

Individuals, businesses, and their representatives can also access CRA's written correspondence online through the My Account, My Business Account, and Represent a Client services. If they choose this option, paper correspondence is suppressed.

Planning highlights

To provide timely information over the planning period, the CRA will:

Expected results

Making it easy to comply with tax obligations

Although the vast majority of Canadians comply voluntarily with Canada's tax laws, the CRA is working hard to improve all of our services to make it easier to comply. Our suite of services includes convenient and easy to use secure digital services, as well as personalized assistance to help Canadians meet their tax and benefit obligations.

Digital services

As Canadians do more online, increasingly, many also prefer to interact with us digitally. To respond to this, we will further enhance our digital service options to provide end-to-end, modern e-services, which are fast, easy, and secure. The CRA's plan for full digital interactions is articulated through nine service goals.

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This image shows a big circle with various e-services modernization benefits that are available to taxpayers as well as how the CRA leverages technologies.

There are images associated with each text around the circle.

In no particular order they are as follows:

Experience modernized secure digital space and the symbol is various screens, mobile, PC tablet

Ease of access to the secure digital space and the symbol is that of a pen and monitor

Send, receive, and store tax information and the symbol is an envelope

Choose to automatically populate tax returns and forms and the symbol is of a magic wand

Real time processing and the symbol is a clock  

View and track progress of interactions and the symbol is a monitor

Access identity fraud-prevention features and the symbol is that of a monitor with outlines of people and text

Interactive digital communications and the symbol is that of a tablet or monitor

and lastly, the Modernized phone technology and the image is that of a person wearing a telephone headset.

In the centre of the image there are various words associated with Income Tax like taxpayers, representatives, benefit recipients, Charities and businesses.


Many of our digital services are accessed through the My Account, My Business Account, and Represent a Client services. We will continue to enhance these secure services, making them easier to use, while improving the related information technology infrastructure to prepare for future program growth and advances in technology. This will allow us to provide more digital services and ensure we are better able to integrate emerging technology.

We will continue to enhance the MyCRA and My Benefits mobile apps and plan to develop a mobile app for businesses so more people can access frequently-used services and information in one convenient, mobile-friendly location.

Targeted outreach

The CRA serves all Canadians and we recognize customized service can be an effective way to offer assistance in meeting tax and benefit obligations. As part of our commitment to improve service to Canadians and facilitate compliance, we will continue to offer support to those who cannot complete their filing obligations on their own.

Our Community Volunteer Income Tax Program supports community organizations offering free clinics to help prepare income tax and benefit returns for eligible individuals. The CRA will expand and strengthen the program's services by providing enhanced training and support for community organizations, including those in Indigenous communities wanting to host clinics for the first time. Through 2020, we will  increase our support for this program to encourage an increase in the number of taxfilers assisted.

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This is an image showing outstretched hands and the following text:

Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) and below that an electronic link to more information on that program.

The CRA's liaison officers work with small business to provide information and in-person support. This helps businesses get their taxes right, promotes compliance, and limits the potential need for compliance action. In addition to new and enhanced digital services to facilitate compliance, the CRA is continuing to advance the Liaison Officer Initiative with a national expansion of the Liaison Officer Assistance Request feature, which offers taxpayers the opportunity to request a visit from a Liaison Officer. Services offered through the Liaison Officer Assistance Request program include in-person visits to address tax-related questions and concerns, to review books and records and, where necessary, to provide recommendations on ways to strengthen a business's bookkeeping system, as well as visits to provide information on the various tools and services offered by the CRA to small businesses. Additional enhancements to the program will build on the successes of the early phases of the project and will include support for both income tax and GST/HST.

Funding from Budget 2016 supports a broader outreach strategy, providing more resources to expand regional outreach activities to various segments of the population. These outreach programs will build awareness and education about the benefits and credits available through participation in the tax system, strengthening partnership, and fostering knowledge and research. Extending the CRA's reach through partnerships with other government agencies and departments and non-governmental organizations will maximize linkages to many populations.

Planning highlights

To make it easy to comply with tax laws over the planning period, the CRA will:

Expected results

Responding to the expectations and needs of Canadians

The CRA will continue to adapt its service model in response to Canadians' needs and expectations. We will listen and respond to taxpayers and benefit recipients. We will work with partners, including other government agencies and departments, to achieve our service goals and align with the Government of Canada model for service delivery and with the changing needs of Canadians.

Service Renewal

Canadians are increasingly turning to the Internet to file their taxes. In 2016, approximately 84% of Canadians filed their tax returns electronically. In order to offer world-class services, the CRA will be streamlining its processing activities and creating three new National Verification and Collections Centres (NVCCs). The changes are part of the Agency's Service Renewal Initiative, which will see the work the CRA currently undertakes in nine processing centres across the country transitioned into seven specialized sites. Of the nine current processing centres, four – in Winnipeg, Sudbury, Jonquière, and Summerside – will eventually specialize exclusively in tax return processing and will grow in size. Meanwhile, the three centres currently located in Surrey, Shawinigan, and St. John's will be converted to NVCCs and will grow, using Budget 2016 funding and funding reallocated from other sites. These changes will improve the CRA's effectiveness, strengthening its ability to serve Canadians while ensuring a strong presence in all regions of the country. The creation of specialized sites will result in faster, more efficient processing and better handling of calls to call centres. Overall, the Service Renewal Initiative will enhance the ways in which Canadians are able to engage with the Agency.

Enhanced Canada Pension Plan

On June 20, 2016, Canada's Ministers of Finance reached an agreement in principle to enhance the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). Federal legislation to implement this agreement received Royal Assent on December 15, 2016. The CPP enhancement will provide Canadians with greater retirement income security by increasing both the replacement rate on earnings and the range of earnings on which benefits are earned. The initiative has a gradual seven-year phase-in, starting in January 2019. Over the planning period, the CRA will engage with federal partners and key external stakeholders so the Agency is well-positioned to administer the changes and to ensure Canadians and the businesses they work for can adjust to the changes. The Agency will implement changes to a number of systems to effect the enhancements contemplated by the legislation, touching a broad cross-section of CRA programs (including for example, assessment, compliance, and enquiries programs). The identification and implementation of systems changes will begin in the first quarter of 2017-2018 and continue through project completion.


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Two call-out bubbles being used to depict engagement.

A pivotal part of expanding and improving CRA services will be regular external engagement and direct feedback mechanisms. Feedback from taxpayers and benefit recipients helps us create programs and services which are fair, helpful, and accessible. Asking Canadians what they want and incorporating their feedback will allow us to meet their evolving service expectations.

The CRA strives to improve service to the millions of small and medium business owners in Canada, resulting in less cost, time, and effort spent on paperwork. The Serving You Better consultations are a forum for small and medium businesses and professional accountants to share valuable insights, which the CRA will use to make its programs and services more streamlined and client-focused for the small and medium business community. Consultations began in 2012 and are conducted every two years, with the most recent round of consultations occurring in summer and fall 2016. Serving You Better is a key component of our commitment to first-class government service for small and medium businesses. When small and medium businesses give their feedback to the CRA, they are helping us create fairer, more helpful, and easier to use programs and services.

Charities play a critical role in our society. They make a valuable contribution to public policy and public debate for all Canadians. To help charities continue this important work, they must be assured they are operating in a regulatory environment which respects and encourages their contribution. We are working to modernize the rules governing the charitable sector, including clarifying the rules governing political activities. Registered charities are allowed to engage in non-partisan political activities within certain limits. They are not allowed to engage in partisan political activities. As announced in Budget 2016, we will collaborate with the Department of Finance to engage with charities to clarify the rules governing political activities. As part of this engagement process, the CRA is collecting feedback from both charities and the public, which will be considered in the development of new guidance, or educational resources, for charities on the rules governing political activities.


Strong relationships with other government agencies and departments will ensure we can continue to focus on providing efficient and effective services to respond to people's needs and advance the Government of Canada service agenda. We will continue to engage other government agencies and departments, other levels of government, and stakeholders to achieve the CRA's agenda and improve service and business processes.

Several initiatives are underway to make it easier for Canadians to interact with the Government. For example, it can be time consuming to update personal information with multiple organizations, so the CRA is working with Employment and Social Development Canada to allow Canadians to update their direct deposit information with either the CRA or Employment and Social Development Canada. For example, in 2017, when Canada Pension Plan recipients provide their direct deposit information to one organization, it will be updated simultaneously in the other one. Future plans include expanding this service to other programs.

The CRA continually looks for ways to engage with external stakeholders to leverage their industry knowledge and better tailor our services, approaches, and support. For example, to combat the underground economy, the CRA partners with public- and private-sector stakeholders to distribute information and tools to provide information on the underground economy and the risks it poses to consumers.

Planning highlights

To respond to Canadians over the planning period, the CRA will:

Expected results

Providing fair and impartial review

If a taxpayer is unsatisfied with a service or a decision they have received, they have the option of a fair and impartial redress process. We resolve disputes and requests for relief arising from decisions made under the legislation and programs administered, and services we provide. A responsive redress process promotes voluntary compliance and fosters trust in the integrity of the CRA.

Every taxpayer who disagrees with a CRA decision about an assessment has access to the CRA's dispute-resolution process. We ensure each objection is treated fairly and in accordance with applicable laws, including the Income Tax Act. As part of our ongoing commitment to improve service and provide early certainty of tax obligations, the CRA plans to increase capacity to resolve more objections, more quickly. Enhancing digital services to include the ability to receive a response to a service complaint will also realize efficiencies.

The CRA also administers a process under which the Minister of National Revenue may, under legislative provisions, grant relief to taxpayers from penalties and interest arising from an inability to pay, through no fault of their own or circumstances beyond their control. Requests for taxpayer relief can arise due to any number of circumstances, ranging from widespread disaster to individual hardship. The CRA continually seeks to improve service, including electronic options to interact with taxpayers and allow for more efficient and timely processing of incoming taxpayer relief requests.

The 2016 Fall Report of the Office of the Auditor General focused on how efficiently the CRA manages income tax objections in terms of timeliness and whether performance indicators regarding the process were developed and reported. The audit also examined if the CRA analyzed and reviewed objections and appeals decisions and if it shares this information internally. We agree with the recommendations issued in the report and see this as a good opportunity to further strengthen our management of tax objections and review the adequacy of our service standards. By taking action to resolve income tax objections in a timely manner, the CRA will give Canadians the certainty they need about their tax affairs to make decisions for themselves and their families.

Planning highlights

To provide fair and impartial review over the planning period, the CRA will:

Expected results

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