Departmental Plan 2017-18

Plans at a glance

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) administers tax, benefits, and related programs, and in this way we touch the lives of more Canadians than any other part of the Public Service of Canada.

The Canadian tax system is founded on self-assessment and voluntary compliance. For this system to function effectively, it must be, and be seen to be, fair. Taxpayers are more likely to comply with the law when they are treated fairly and have the information, advice, and services they need to meet their obligations. In designing and delivering all our programs and services, fairness and integrity are our guiding principles, informing our decisions and underscoring our conduct.

This plan highlights specific initiatives in support of the Government of Canada priority to further improve the services we offer. We will take more steps to make sure Canadians, especially Indigenous peoples, seniors, lower-income earners, and people with disabilities, receive their proper benefit entitlements. Through service enhancements, the CRA will increase its capacity to provide taxpayers with certainty regarding their tax obligations and to provide timely resolution of taxpayer objections.

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This image is comprised of 6 hexagon shapes around a centre hexagon. Each one describes different information about the CRA taken from the 2015-16 Departmental Performance Report.

In no particular order.

28.6 billion in benefits paid (Footnote 1),
31 million income tax returns processed (Footnote 1),
485 billion in taxes and duties processed (Footnote 1),
39,392 planned full time equivalents for 2017-2018,
4.2 billion planned spending for 2017-18,
12.8 million benefit recipients received benefits (Footnote 1).

The centre hexagon is shaded and has no information in it.

For more information on the CRA's plans, priorities and the planned results, see the "Planned results" section of this  report.


"As Minister of National Revenue, your overarching goal will be to ensure that the CRA is fairer, more helpful, and easier to use. You will lead the government's work to overhaul its service model so that people who interact with the CRA feel like valued clients, not just taxpayers."

— Minister of National Revenue Mandate Letter

Strategic Framework:

Our strategic priorities
Service Access to clear, accurate information and timely, convenient services makes it easier for Canadians to comply with tax laws and receive the benefits they are entitled to.
Compliance The CRA works with those who are willing to comply, promotes compliance where needed, vigorously pursues those who try to evade their tax obligations, and offers recourse when taxpayers disagree with CRA decisions.
Integrity and security Canada's voluntary self-assessment system is sustained in large measure by the trust Canadians have placed in the CRA to safeguard the information entrusted to it.
Innovation Canadians expect the CRA to seek ever more effective and timely ways of interacting with clients, managing day-to-day operations, securing taxpayer information, and detecting, deterring, and acting against non-compliance.
People CRA employees act with integrity, professionalism, and respect.
Our core responsibilities
Tax Benefits

Canada's revenue base is protected

Support the economic and social well-being of Canadians
Canadians comply with tax obligations, non-compliance is addressed, and Canadians have access to appropriate mechanisms for resolving disputes Canadians receive their rightful benefits in a timely manner
Government-wide priorities
Inclusive and sustainable economic growth  
Social inclusion and diversity
Open and transparent government  
Ministerial priorities
Improve service to Canadians to ensure the CRA is fair, helpful, and accessible
Crack down on tax evaders and work with international partners to adopt strategies to combat tax avoidance
Work with the Minister of Finance to clarify the rules regarding political activities, in recognition of the valuable contribution registered charities make to public policy and debate

The following indicators, developed with the CRA's Board of Management, will help to assess the CRA's performance in providing Canadians with access to clear, accurate information and timely convenient services, while promoting and supporting compliance. Results will be published in the CRA's yearly Departmental Results Report. These indicators provide additional support to the CRA's overall Departmental Results Framework as described in pages 41 and 46 of the plan. The table below explains how each key indicator contributes to the CRA's overall performance story. 

Key indicator/volumetric  Why it is important
1. Percentage of individuals who paid their taxes on time Indicating the rate of on-time payment by taxpayers strengthens trust and confidence in the CRA and, most importantly, in the voluntary compliance system.
2. Dollar value of payments the CRA processed Specifying the value of tax dollars collected shows the volume of tax processing and supports transparency by reporting the value of Canadian taxpayer dollars recovered by the Agency.
3. Dollar value of benefit and credit payments to recipients Reporting the dollar value of support provided to eligible families and individuals under provincial, territorial, and federal programs, shows the volume of benefit payment processing and supports benefit program transparency.
4. Percentage of electronic filing rates for individuals; Percentage of electronic filing rates for businesses Reporting on the percentage of electronic filing rates for individuals and businesses shows the CRA's efforts and success in directing taxpayers to electronic channels. Electronic filing allows for more taxpayer control. This type of filing it is faster, more convenient and secure, and reduces the compliance burden.
5. Processing electronic individual income tax returns within an average of two weeks; Percentage of electronic corporate income tax returns processed within 45 days The CRA's electronic return processing time frames show the level of service provided to taxpayers who chose to file electronically. The time frames show the efficiency of electronic filing.
6. Percentage of individual taxpayers with My Account, either directly or through their tax representative; Percentage of businesses using My Business Account, either directly or through their tax representative Reporting on the percentage of individual taxpayers and businesses using My Account or My Business Account, either directly or through their representative, shows the CRA's success in promoting innovative and modern services that are easy to access.
7. Dollar value of identified non-compliance Identifying how much money is owed by taxpayers failing to meet their obligations promotes accountability and transparency in cases where individuals/corporations do not abide by the tax laws. This identification quantifies the CRA's work to address non-compliance and protect the revenue base.
8. Tax debt as a percentage of gross revenues Describing the CRA's success in meeting its standards to collect payments owed to the Crown.
9. Caller accessibility This accessibility shows the ability of individuals and businesses to access timely responses to their tax and benefit enquiries on the telephone.
  • Caller accessibility for tax enquiries (individuals and businesses)
    • individual enquiries (peak season)
    • individual enquiries (non-peak season)
    • business enquiries
  • Caller accessibility for benefit enquiries
10. Percentage of service complaints resolved in 30 working days The percentage shows the aim to resolve issues quickly, help the taxpayer, and improve service. This helps make sure all the mechanisms are in place to resolve issues effectively, as well as foster co-operation with taxpayers.
11.Percentage change in appeals (closing) inventory Managing the appeals inventory shows the CRA's commitment to providing service to Canadians, while preserving the integrity of the tax system.

Raison d'être, mandate and role

Raison d'être

The Minister of National Revenue is responsible for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The CRA administers tax, benefits, and related programs for governments across Canada. In carrying out its role, the CRA contributes to the economic and social well-being of Canadians by promoting voluntary participation in our tax system. The CRA makes sure:

Mandate and role

In fulfilling its core responsibilities, the CRA designs and delivers its many programs and services with the needs of taxpayers and benefit recipients in mind. We aim to meet the expectations and interests of the public by providing accessible, timely, and useful information on our website, through our call centres, on social and conventional media, and in person. Meanwhile, the CRA protects the integrity and fairness of the tax system by ensuring those who have not met their tax obligations do so.

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This is an image of a canadian maple leaf.
It includes text describing the Mission and Vision of the CRA

The mission of the CRA is to administer tax, benefits, and related programs,and to ensure compliance for governments across Canada, thereby contributing to the ongoing economic and social well-being of Canadians.

The vision is, that the CRA is the model for trusted tax and benefit administration, providing unparalleled service and value to its clients, and offering its employees outstanding career opportunities.

For more general information about the CRA, see the "Supplementary information" section of this report. For more information on the CRA's organizational mandate letter commitments, see the Minister's mandate letter on the Prime Minister of Canada's websiteii.

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100 years of income tax

1917, a year which marked the 50th anniversary of Confederation, was an eventful year in Canadian history. Three years into the First World War, Canadian troops demonstrated their courage and tenacity, and their military acumen, in the battle of Vimy Ridge (April 9th –12th). Later in the year, on December 6th, Canadians at home displayed their own resolve and valour in responding to the death and destruction that overwhelmed Halifax as a result of the largest human-made explosion prior to the detonation of the first atomic bombs in 1945.

1917 was also the year taxation on income was introduced in Canada. Although some provinces had already imposed a tax on income, the Income War Tax Act of 1917 represented "a new departure in Canadian methods of raising money for federal purposes."

Originally implemented to finance Canada’s war effort, income tax today – together with other taxes such as the GST/HST – supports numerous government programs and contributes to the economic and social well-being of all Canadians. Income tax helps pay for our health care, for infrastructure and regional development, assistance to farmers and other food producers, benefits to seniors and children, national defence and public safety, foreign aid, and student assistance programs.

In marking the 100th anniversary of the introduction of income tax in Canada, it is worth reflecting on the extent to which it has given Canada a secure economic and social foundation and provided Canadians with an enviable standard of living and a high quality of life.

Operating context

Advances in information technology drive and facilitate many of our service improvements. Canadians expect to interact digitally and securely with the CRA and we have reflected this expectation in our e-services modernization strategy, which will make interacting with the CRA easier.

Improved service will lead to improved compliance for those who want to comply. Unfortunately, there are still those who willfully choose to not comply with Canadian tax laws both at home and abroad. With the growth of the global economy, we are seeing an increase in non-compliance on an international scale, particularly offshore non-compliance involving low- or no-tax jurisdictions. As a matter of fairness for all Canadians (those who meet their tax obligations and all those who benefit from tax-funded programs, services, and infrastructure), we are committed to preventing all underground economic activity, tax evasion, and aggressive tax planning.

Technology serves to extend the scope of our business intelligence solutions, including predictive analytics to allow us to better respond to taxpayer needs and expectations, therefore allowing us to deliver results more efficiently. Innovative use of business intelligence enables us to accurately direct our resources to areas where non-compliance is most likely.

We continue to seek opportunities to work with international and domestic partners, including other government agencies and departments, in order to be successful in achieving our mandate, especially in the areas of client service and addressing tax avoidance.

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