Ministerial Welcome Package – Book 2

From: Canada Revenue Agency

Corporate Briefing

Overview documents on the CRA’s structure, governance, corporate committees, planning and budget

November 2019

* Insert from Library of Parliament titled How Canadians Govern Themselves to be included as an Annex

The Canada Revenue Agency – a brief history

Before Confederation, the colonial government collected taxes, usually through customs duties, and sent them to the two mother countries, England and France. Following Confederation in 1867, the new government was given the power to raise money by taxation, and responsibilities were divided between the federal and provincial governments. In 1868, two separate departments were established: Customs (responsible for collecting customs duties and canal tolls) and Inland Revenue (responsible for collecting all excise duties, indirect taxes, and stamp duties).

In 1887, the Ministers of Customs and of Inland Revenue were reduced to controllers. Responsibility for their departments was placed under the Department of Trade and Commerce from 1892 to 1897, once again elevating them to full departmental status. They were merged as Customs and Inland Revenue in 1918, which, from 1921 to 1927, was known as Customs and Excise. The collection of income tax (a responsibility of the Department of Finance since 1917) was transferred to this new body in 1924.

In 1927, the Department of National Revenue Act established the Department of National Revenue by renaming the Department of Customs and Excise. The new Department was responsible for assessing and collecting duties and taxes, monitoring the movement of people and goods across the Canadian border, and protecting Canadian industries from foreign competition. The same act created a second department to collect income tax, a responsibility that a commissioner from the Department of Finance had been meeting. Both departments had the same Minister, but each had its own departmental organization and Deputy Minister.

From 1929 to 1934, as a result of the Great Depression, customs and excise duties declined by 65%, which led to an increase in personal and corporate taxes and the increase of sales tax across most of the provinces. When the Second World War began in 1939, the federal government began to move to incorporate the responsibility for the collection of personal and corporate taxes under a central fiscal authority; the goal was to raise funds more efficiently and more equitably distribute the war’s financial burden across provinces and segments of society. The provinces surrendered the ability to collect these taxes to the federal government in 1941, and by 1946, these direct taxes accounted for 56% of Canada’s revenue. The authority to collect direct taxes was never restored to the provincial level. However, in response to provincial dissatisfaction with the change in responsibilities, the government began distributing federal grants to provinces. The Income Tax Act was then passed in 1948, and introduced 10 federal tax brackets.

The Department of National Revenue kept its name until the 1970s, when it became known as Revenue Canada until 1999. On April 29, 1999, Parliament passed the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency Act, which established the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (now the Canada Revenue Agency). The change in status from department to agency, which took place on November 1, 1999, has helped build a modern organization that is committed to leadership, innovation, and client service. Following this change, a Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the Agency was first appointed on November 1, 1999. The Agency’s Board of Management, was also implemented at this time.

On December 12, 2003, the government announced the creation of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), which is responsible for Canada's customs operations. Two years later, on December 12, 2005, legislation came into effect to legally change our name to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

The 100th anniversary of the establishment of income tax has just passed. In fact, it was called the Income War Tax Act when it received Royal Assent in 1917. When the First World War placed an unprecedented drain on Canada’s finances, personal income tax was originally introduced as a temporary measure to finance the war. During this period, the CRA had 36 employees across the country. The Agency has come a long way since then, having grown to employ more than 40 thousand individuals serving Canadians. The Agency is the largest civilian employer in the Government of Canada, and has the highest retention rate amongst government organizations. We are also consistently ranked in Canada’s top 100 employers.

The tax system and our forms have changed over time, and so have our processing procedures. We have evolved from having a single switchboard telephone operator per office to having modern call centres across the country that provide millions of Canadians with answers to their questions about income tax and excise taxes, benefit programs, and the GST/HST. Since its inception, the CRA has consistently grown to better serve Canadians.

The CRA administers tax legislation and regulations, such as the Income Tax Act and the Excise Tax Act, for the Government of Canada and for most provinces and territories. The Agency is in charge of administering tax, and ensuring compliance on behalf of governments across Canada. We have also transformed beyond this role to focus on administering various social and economic benefits and incentive programs delivered through the tax system, thereby contributing to the ongoing economic and social well-being of Canadians.

It’s an exciting time for the CRA as we are modernizing to ensure we put Canadians at the center of everything, including service design and delivery. We are listening to Canadians’ expectations and focusing our efforts on innovating our approaches to service delivery to optimally serve Canadians. As technology has advanced, the Agency advanced alongside it by incorporating an ever growing list of new electronic services to meet the growing needs of Canadians.

Even though we’ve made progress, our story continues and we look forward to writing the next chapter. Our plans for the future include keeping pace with technological advancement by having a workforce of the future, considering the taxpayer user experience, and modernizing and digitizing our systems and processes. We also aim to maintain and promote a client-centric approach to program design, and want to continue to enhance our reputation and build greater trust among Canadians. With an improved reputation, we will aim to promote voluntary compliance, and focus our other resources on enforcement efforts related to high-risk individuals and promoters of aggressive tax avoidance and evasion.

This book outlines the corporate structures in place that support the CRA’s five strategic priorities and overarching service transformation agenda. The five priorities include providing a seamless service experience, maintaining fairness in Canada’s tax and benefits administration, strengthening trust, transparency, and accountability, enabling innovation, and empowering our people to excel. We are striving to become a more agile and innovative organization capable of providing more client-centric services that respond to the needs and expectations of Canadians. This book contains corporate practices that play a key role in facilitating our objectives. 

Leadership of the Canada Revenue Agency

Organizational structure

Image description

This is a representation of the organizational structure of the Canada Revenue Agency from the Minister down to the Assistant Commissioners.

At the top centre of the page is a rectangular box that holds the Minister of National Revenue’s title in bold letters.

Attached to the left of the rectangular box containing the Minister’s title is a solid downwards-facing diagonal line that leads to another rectangular box which contains the title Taxpayers' Ombudsman in bold letters, and below includes the name Sherra Profit as the title-holder.

A second solid diagonal line at the right-hand side of the Minister's rectangle leads to a box containing the title Chair, Board of Management in bold letters, and below includes the name Suzanne Gouin as the title-holder.

A third solid line at the bottom of the middle of the Minister's rectangle leads to a rectangle containing the title Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency in bold letters, and below includes the name Bob Hamilton as the title-holder.

There is also a solid line leading from the rectangle for Suzanne Gouin to the rectangle for Bob Hamilton to illustrate that the Commissioner has a reporting relationship to both the Minister of National Revenue and the Chair of the Agency's Board of Management.

On the left-hand side of the rectangle for Bob Hamilton there is a solid line leading to a rectangle containing the title Deputy Commissioner in bold letters, and below the name of Christine Donoghue as title-holder.

Attached to the bottom of  the Commissioner’s title is a solid left-leaning diagonal line moving downward to a large rectangular box made of dotted lines that contains the title Regional operations in bold letters. Underneath the title are five solid lined rectangular boxes that contain the regions in bold letters, followed by the title and names of the Assistant Commissioner’s of these regions. This is the information that appears:

Atlantic
Assistant Commissioner, Susan Chambers

Ontario
AC, Maria Mavroyannis

Prairie
AC, Ross Ermel

Pacific
AC, Ross Ermel

Quebec
AC, Louis Beauséjour

Attached to the bottom of the Commissioner’s title is a solid right-leaning diagonal line moving downward to a large rectangular box made of dotted lines that contains the title Headquarters branches in bold letters.

To the bottom left of the Headquarters branches title is the title Program branches in bold letters, and below that title are five solid lined rectangular boxes that contain the names of the various program branches, followed by the title and the names of the Assistant Commissioner’s of these branches. This is the information that appears:

Assessment, Benefit, and Service
AC, Frank Vermaeten

Compliance Programs
AC, Ted Gallivan

Collections and Verifications
AC, Michael Snaauw

Appeals
AC, Cathy Hawara

Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs
AC, Geoff Trueman

To the bottom right of the Headquarters branches title is the title Corporate branches in bold letters, and below that title are five solid lined rectangular boxes that contain the names of the various corporate branches, followed by the title and the names of the Assistant Commissioner’s of these branches. This is the information that appears:

Service, Innovation, and Integration
AC, Chief Data Officer, and Chief Service Officer, Mireille Laroche

Finance and Administration
AC and Chief Financial Officer, Janique Caron

Information Technology
AC and Chief Information Officer, Annette Butikofer

Human Resources
AC and Chief Human Resources Officer, Dan Couture

Public Affairs
AC and Chief Privacy Officer, Maxime Guénette

Audit, Evaluation, and Risk
AC and Chief Audit Executive, Brian Philbin

Legal Services
Assistant Deputy Minister, Tax Law Services Portfolio, Shalene Curtis-Micallef

General

Role of ministers

Individually, ministers are accountable to Parliament for the performance of their duties and functions. They are also responsible, collectively, for carrying out the government’s policies as established by Cabinet.

Portfolio Responsibilities and Support

On appointment, a minister will have the powers, duties and functions vested by statute. In exercising their responsibilities, ministers are supported by a deputy minister and departmental officials. They are also provided with resources for exempt staff, whom they personally appoint to assist them in their official responsibilities by providing political analysis, advice and support that the public service cannot provide.

As head of government, the Prime Minister has a responsibility for the effective operation of the whole of government and often has to answer in the House for the operation of all departments and agencies. This may mean that, in carrying out this overarching responsibility, the Prime Minister will be involved in matters within the responsibility of individual ministers.

Powers, Duties and Functions

The Prime Minister determines the broad organization and structure of the government in order to enable it to meet its objectives. The Prime Minister is responsible for allocating Ministers’ portfolios, establishing their mandates, clarifying the relationships among them and identifying the priorities for their portfolios through mandate letters.

Typically, departmental statutes provide the Minister with powers, duties and functions. However, most of the Ministers’ powers are exercised on the Ministers’ behalf by deputy ministers and departmental officials, who may in some cases act under formal delegations. Ministers are individually accountable to Parliament and the Prime Minister for their own actions and those of their department, including the actions of all officials under their management and direction.

The Prime Minister may assign additional responsibilities to a minister, either through an Order in Council or as a result of a designation by the Prime Minister. Consequently, ministerial responsibilities can encompass a range of diverse activities, some based on statute, others on specific direction provided by the Prime Minister.

Access to Previous Government Papers

Generally, a newly elected Cabinet will have control over and access to government records.

There are some exceptions. There is a long-standing convention that ministers may not see Cabinet papers of former ministers of a different party. Nor can ministers see other papers containing the unpublished views or comments of their predecessors on advice submitted to them. The purpose of this convention is to avoid having a new government make political capital out of the deliberations of the former government.

However, the same is not true of documents protected by solicitor-client privilege that were prepared for the previous government. Legal advice given to employees, officers, or ministers under one administration is advice to the executive branch of government, not to that particular Minister or to a particularly constituted Cabinet.

Specific to the Minister of National Revenue

Delegations

Given the scope and complexity of the powers, duties and functions vested in Ministers, by practical necessity the majority are exercised on the Minister’s behalf by departmental officials pursuant to common law principles that have been codified in legislation or pursuant to express delegations of authority from the Minister.

Delegations provide the legal framework under which officers of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) can exercise, on behalf of the Minister, a wide variety of powers and duties. Existing delegations remain valid following a change in Ministers and are generally not reviewed after a new Minister is appointed.

The Minister of National Revenue has a number of powers under the CRA Act, Income Tax Act, and Excise Tax Act. Certain powers of a more sensitive nature are not delegated and are exercised personally by the Minister, such as the issuance of security certificates under the Charities Registration (Security Information) Act which revoke or deny registration of charities involved in supporting terrorism.

The powers that are delegated are part of the wide range of day-to-day activities carried out by CRA officials (such as requesting information, waiving or cancelling interest and penalties, conducting audits, or investigating frauds). Most powers can be delegated; however, neither the Minister nor the Commissioner can delegate any powers pertaining to regulation making authorities or the provision of reports and recommendations to the Governor in Council. The Financial Administration Act provides the legislative authority for the delegation of financial authority. Delegated authorities come into effect when the Minister or the deputy head signs the requisite documents. The documents, known as matrices, that were approved by a former Minister remain in effect until new matrices are signed. When a new Minister is appointed, the Agency must prepare new delegation matrices for signature within 90 days following the appointment.

The legislation permits the delegation of the Minister’s powers and duties to CRA officials through administrative delegation instruments. These instruments can take the form of a formal authorization document, memorandum, or letter. New instruments are usually needed when new legislation comes into effect or to reflect internal reorganizations/title changes. In most cases, program legislation provides the Commissioner of Revenue with the legal authority to sign delegation instruments.

Governance structure

The governance structure for the CRA, as set out in the Canada Revenue Agency Act (CRA Act), is unique in the Canadian government, comprising the Minister of National Revenue, the Board of Management, and the Commissioner. The Minister is responsible to Parliament for the CRA, the Commissioner is the Agency’s Chief Executive Officer and responsible for its day-to-day management and direction, and the Board of Management oversees the organization and administration of the Agency. 

Ministerial Support

In performing their duties and functions, the Minister of National Revenue is supported by the Commissioner, other CRA officials and the Taxpayer’s Ombudsman, in addition to their own political staff.

When Parliament is sitting, ministerial briefings are typically held weekly with the Commissioner and key Agency officials. Otherwise, the CRA is available to support the Minister and staff as required and regular contact occurs between the Minister’s Office and CRA staff who support the Minister’s Office, as well as the Minister’s Chief of Staff.

Accountability to Parliament

The Minister of National Revenue is accountable to Parliament for the operation of the CRA and matters relating to the collection of taxes and duties (set out in the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act, and the Excise Act).

Ministers are regularly called to parliamentary committees to provide information about policy and spending priorities, and to discuss departmental performance and results. The Minister is supported in this capacity by members of their office, as well as CRA officials, including the Parliamentary and Cabinet Affairs Division in the Public Affairs Branch, which serves as the liaison office between the CRA and Parliament.

Confidentiality of taxpayer information (Section 241 of the Income Tax Act)

Taxpayer information is the subject of rigorous confidentiality provisions set out in tax statutes, such as the Income Tax Act and the Excise Tax Act. Taxpayer information should only be accessed, used, or shared for a purpose specifically authorized by the appropriate law, and on a need to know basis.

Members of Parliament and their staff may be approached by constituents with inquiries on a tax issue. Tax statutes require the written consent of a taxpayer before their information is provided by the CRA to a Member of Parliament. When claims of specific tax grievances are raised in the media or Parliament, only general replies may be provided with no references to the circumstances of the aggrieved taxpayer, even if the issue is misrepresented. This includes addressing information (or misinformation) already in the public domain.

When there is a question as to whether information is taxpayer information, it should be treated as taxpayer information that cannot be disclosed until confirmed otherwise by a CRA official. The CRA has put in place internal controls to safeguard taxpayer information, which is considered to be protected information.

Appointments

The Minister of National Revenue may be required to make recommendations to the Governor in Council on the appointment of the CRA’s Board of Management members as well as the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman.

Security practices and Considerations

Ministers must be aware that as public figures they are potential targets for cyber attacks and should exercise caution when using or accessing their Twitter accounts, Facebook or other social media and emails. Additionally, ministers have access to privileged and protected information and are obligated to ensure that they protect such information.

Bob Hamilton – Commissioner of Revenue and Chief Executive Officer

Bob Hamilton

Bob Hamilton was appointed as the Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on August 1, 2016.

Prior to joining the CRA, Bob served as Deputy Minister of Environment Canada and Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Canada. Bob was appointed Senior Associate Secretary of the Treasury Board in March 2011 and named by the Prime Minister as the lead Canadian on the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council. Bob has held several senior positions in the Department of Finance, including Senior Assistant Deputy Minister of Tax Policy, and Assistant Deputy Minister of Financial Sector Policy.

He received his Honours BA and Master's degrees in Economics from the University of Western Ontario.

Christine Donoghue – Deputy Commissioner of Revenue

Christine Donoghue

Christine Donoghue was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the CRA on August 29, 2018. Prior to joining the CRA, Christine served as Associate Deputy Minister at Health Canada.

Christine brings extensive public service experience to the CRA. She first joined the federal public service in 1984 as a senior fisheries officer at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. She left the public service in 1987 to study law and later became a legislative advisor to the Government House Leader of the National Assembly of Quebec.

Since 2005, Christine has served in Assistant Deputy Minister positions at Natural Resources Canada, the Canada School of Public Service, Environment Canada, and Policy Horizons Canada.

In 2014, she became the Senior Vice-President, Policy at the Public Service Commission, and then held the position of Acting President from 2015 to 2016.

Governance at the Canada Revenue Agency

The Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) governance structure is unique within Canadian government, comprising a Minister, a Board of Management, a Commissioner, and a Taxpayers’ Ombudsman.

Minister of National Revenue

Board of Management

Taxpayers’ Ombudsman

Commissioner of Revenue and Chief Executive Officer

Deputy Commissioner

Board of Management role

The Chair
Suzanne Gouin – Chair, Board of Management
Suzanne Gouin, Chair, Board of Management

Suzanne Gouin

Nominated by the federal government, Suzanne Gouin is an accomplished media and telecommunications senior executive. From 2002 to 2015, she served as President and Chief Executive Officer of TV5 Québec Canada (TV5), a Canadian broadcaster responsible for operating TV5’s signal in Canada, and possesses a range of expertise in the implementation of digital processes and solutions. She represented the company on regulatory issues and government relations, both in Canada and internationally. Prior to her position at TV5, she was the Vice President, Business Publications, at Transcontinental Media, and Director General for the Montreal television station CJNT, a division of CF Television Inc.

Ms. Gouin is currently the Chair of the Board of Le Printemps numérique (Montreal Digital Spring), a not-for-profit organization with a mission to promote creativity of the digital industry in Montreal. She has served on the Board of Hydro Québec since 2008, and is currently a member of its Audit Committee and Financial Affairs, Projects and Technology Committee.

A graduate in Political Science from Concordia University, Ms. Gouin holds an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario. She is a graduate of the Institute of Corporate Directors’ (ICD) Directors Education Program, and holds the ICD.D Designation, reflecting a lifelong commitment to boardroom excellence.

Directors
  • Appointed by the GIC to serve "at pleasure" for a period of no more than three years that can only be renewed twice
  • A short list of nominees is provided to the Minister of National Revenue, from the nominating provinces’ Ministers of Finance, who then recommend nominees to the GIC

15 directors: Chair, Commissioner (ex officio), 10 provincial, 1 territorial (rotating), 2 federal

Board of Management
Name Nominated by
Kathryn A. Bouey
Ontario
Dawn S. Dalley
Newfoundland and Labrador
France-Élaine Duranceau Federal government
Mary Ference Saskatchewan
Gerard J. Fitzpatrick Prince Edward Island
Susan L. Green Alberta
Susan Hayes Nova Scotia
Francine Martel-Vaillancourt Quebec
David W. Reid Manitoba
Mireille A. Saulnier New Brunswick
Joyce Sumara Federal government
Paul Summerville British Columbia
D. Stanley Thompson Yukon
Bob Hamilton Ex officio

Cabinet Decision-Making

The Cabinet is the political forum where Ministers reach a consensus and decide on priorities and issues. It is the setting in which they bring political and strategic considerations to bear on proposed ministerial and governmental actions.

Basic Rules for Cabinet Business

Decision making is led by the Prime Minister. Through the Cabinet and its committees, the Prime Minister provides Ministers with the principal forum in which they can resolve different perspectives. The Prime Minister organizes Cabinet and Cabinet committee decision making, determines the agenda for Cabinet business and chooses committee chairpersons to act on his or her behalf. The Privy Council Office is the Cabinet’s secretariat and administers the Cabinet decision-making process on behalf of the Prime Minister.

Cabinet government works through a process of compromise and consensus building, which culminates in a Cabinet decision.

Consultation among the Ministers, departments and portfolios involved must precede the submission of a proposal to the Cabinet by the responsible Minister or Ministers. Ministers must also consult caucus early on policy and expenditure proposals.

Ministers have the right to seek their colleagues’ consideration of proposals that may impact their area of responsibility.

Confidences of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, more commonly referred to as "Cabinet confidences," must be appropriately safeguarded from unauthorized disclosure or other compromise.

Decision-Making Process and Procedures

Cabinet decision-making is guided by electoral commitments as well as by key statements of government policy and priorities. The Speech from the Throne, delivered by the Governor General at the beginning of each session of Parliament, outlines the government’s program for Parliament. As a reflection of the overall priorities of the government and the Prime Minister, the Speech provides a general policy framework for the upcoming parliamentary session.

The Minister of Finance presents the government’s annual budget which reflects the fiscal framework agreed to by the Cabinet. The President of the Treasury Board subsequently tables the Main Estimates.

These frameworks provide the overall direction of the government. They both shape and reflect the ongoing work of Cabinet committees.

The Cabinet process begins when an issue is raised by a Minister in the form of a Cabinet document or through general discussion at a Cabinet meeting. The supporting documents are normally circulated to all Ministers by the Privy Council Office before the issue is discussed at the appropriate Cabinet committee.

The Cabinet and Cabinet Committees

Cabinet committees are an extension of the Cabinet itself. The Prime Minister establishes both standing and temporary (or special purpose) committees, chooses their membership, prescribes their procedures and changes them as he or she sees fit. The Privy Council Office provides Ministers with information on the Prime Minister’s decisions regarding the structure and operations of Cabinet committees.

Committee chairpersons act for the Prime Minister with his or her authority, including setting the committee agenda. For the most part, decisions are taken by the appropriate committee, subject to confirmation by the Cabinet. This system settles as many questions as possible at the committee stage in order to lessen the workload of the Cabinet and to allow it to concentrate on priority issues and broad political concerns.

The Treasury Board is established by law as a committee of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, and many of its decisions have the force of law. It provides oversight of the government’s financial management and spending, as well as oversight on human resources issues. The Treasury Board may act as the Cabinet committee for the public service and expenditure management. The Board is the employer for the public service, and establishes policies and common standards for administrative, personnel, financial and organizational practices across government. It also controls the allocation of financial resources to departments and programs. The Treasury Board also fulfills the role of the Committee of Council in approving regulatory policies and regulations, and all Orders in Council, excluding appointments.

Orders in Council

Orders in Council (OICs) are legal instruments made by the Governor in Council pursuant to statutory authority (or, infrequently, royal prerogative). OICs address a wide range of administrative and legislative matters, from civil service staffing to capital punishment, and from the disposition of Aboriginal lands to the maintenance of the Parliamentary Library. Recommendations to the Governor in Council are signed by the responsible Minister. They take legal effect only when signed by the Governor General.

Program Branches

Appeals Branch

Assistant Commissioner, Cathy Hawara

Mandate

Delivers sound, timely, and impartial decisions and responses to resolve tax and Canada Pension Plan (CPP)/ Employment Insurance (EI) disputes, and provide taxpayer relief.

Core Responsibilities

Objections and appeals

Tax and charities litigation

CPP and EI appeals

Taxpayer relief

Assessment, Benefit, and Service Branch (ABSB)

Assistant Commissioner, Frank Vermaeten
Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Gillian Pranke

Mandate

Processes tax returns and payments for individuals, businesses, and trusts; administers federal and provincial/territorial benefit and credit programs; and leverages technology to provide better service to taxpayers and benefit recipients.

Core Responsibilities

Processing returns and payments

Processing individual, corporate and trust income tax returns, and assessing taxes owing.

Benefit programs

Ensures that Canadians get the benefits to which they are entitled, administers federal and provincial/territorial benefit and credit programs, and provides electronic income verification services with partner organizations.

Telephone enquiries

Digital services

Outreach

Collections and Verification Branch (CVB)

Assistant Commissioner, Michael Snaauw
Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Tammy Branch

Mandate

Protects the integrity and fairness of Canada’s tax system for all Canadians by delivering national validation, compliance, and collections programs that promote voluntary registration, accurate and timely filing, and payment remittance.

Core Responsibilities

Collections

Individual and business compliance

Compliance Programs Branch (CPB)

Assistant Commissioner, Ted Gallivan

Mandate

Promotes voluntary compliance and identifies and addresses domestic non compliance with tax laws, and combats the most aggressive cases of tax avoidance and tax evasion.

Core Responsibilities

Income Tax, GST and HST

Scientific research and experimental development (SR&ED)

International and large business, high net worth compliance and aggressive tax planning

Criminal investigations

Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs Branch (LPRAB)

Assistant Commissioner, Geoff Trueman

Mandate

Responsible for interpreting tax legislation and is the principal Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) liaison with the Department of Finance and with provincial and territorial finance departments in matters pertaining to legislative change.

Core Responsibilities

Legislative/policy program

Rulings and interpretations

Excise licensing, registration and compliance

Registered plans

Registered charities and other qualified donees

International engagement

Corporate branches

Audit, Evaluation, and Risk Branch (AERB)

Assistant Commissioner and Chief Audit Executive, Brian Philbin

Mandate

Supports the achievement of the CRA’s strategic goals by providing independent and objective information, advice, and assurance on the soundness of the CRA management framework and on the effectiveness, efficiency, and economy of its strategies, programs, and practices. The branch ensures that the CRA has successfully embedded a holistic approach to managing risk and fosters a working culture that values responsible risk taking and continuous improvement.

Core Responsibilities

Internal audit – Assurance

Program evaluation

Enterprise risk management

Professional practices and data analysis

External audit liaison

Internal disclosures

Finance and Administration Branch (FAB)

Assistant Commissioner and Chief Financial Officer, Janique Caron

Deputy Assistant Commissioner and Agency Comptroller, Hugo Pagé

Mandate

Facilitates the delivery of CRA programs and services at the national level by providing sound advice, products, and services in financial administration, resource management, security, internal affairs, administration, and real property.

Core Responsibilities

Financial administration

Resource management

Financial management advisory services

Security and internal affairs

Administration

Real property

Human Resources Branch (HRB)

Assistant Commissioner and Chief Human Resources Officer, Dan Couture

Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Ann Marie Hume

Mandate

Enables effective people management by providing programs and services that support workforce and workplace excellence while sustaining a culture of integrity.

Core Responsibilities

Legislative accountabilities

Workforce management

Acquiring and developing talent

Retaining and mobilizing talent

Collective agreements

CRA’s executive community

Information Technology Branch (ITB)

Assistant Commissioner and Chief Information Officer, Annette Butikofer

Deputy Assistant Commissionner, Santo Scarfo

Mandate

Develops and maintains information technology (IT)/information management systems to enable program delivery at the CRA, maintains systems security (including cyber security), and provides client computing and other IT solutions to the Canada Border Services Agency.

Core Responsibilities

IT operations and maintenance

IT security

IT strategy and direction

Management of IT resources

Legal Services

Assistant Deputy Minister of the Department of Justice Tax Law Services Portfolio, Shalene Curtis-Micallef

Mandate

Advises the CRA on the legal parameters and risks associated with the development and delivery of its programs and in its interactions with stakeholders and clients.

Core Responsibilities

Advisory

Litigation

Collections litigation

Public Affairs Branch (PAB)

Assistant Commissioner and Chief Privacy Officer, Maxime Guénette

Mandate

Provides public affairs leadership, advice, support, and oversight to the CRA and its clients in a variety of functions. These include external and internal communications, issues management, brand management, digital communications, ministerial services, parliamentary and cabinet affairs, public opinion research, consultations and stakeholder engagement, access to information and privacy, and publishing.

Core Responsibilities

Access to information and privacy

Communications services and products

Ministerial services and operations

Digital design and production

Service, Innovation and Integration Branch (SIIB)

Assistant Commissioner, Chief Service Officer and Chief Data Officer, Mireille Laroche

Mandate

Ensures rigour in the Agency’s reporting to Parliament and the provinces and territories, informs and influences the direction of the Agency’s strategic and operational agenda, leads cross-cutting Agency projects and initiatives, maximizes the Agency’s ability to use and leverage data and information, and leverages feedback the Agency receives from taxpayers, to promote client-centric design and program.

Core Responsibilities

Horizontality

Service design and development

Strategic planning and Agency reporting

Relationship management

Data and analytics

Regions

The CRA has five regional operations supporting the Agency in delivering its operational programs: Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairie and Pacific. Similar to the program and corporate branches at headquarters, each region is led by an Assistant Commissioner. Regional operations are reflective of Tax Services Office (TSOs), Tax Centres (TCs) and National Verification and Collections Centres (NVCCs). TSOs handle more complex audit, collection and related files, which generally involve potential face-to-face interactions with taxpayers or their representatives. TCs are tax return processing centres, and NVCCs handle non-complex, non-face-to-face files in the areas of collections, validation, and verification.

Atlantic Region

Assistant Commissioner, Susan Chambers

The Atlantic Region consists of four provincial jurisdictions: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. The Atlantic Region employs approximately 4,000 CRA employees, making CRA one of the largest employers in the region.

Quebec Region

Assistant Commissioner, Louis Beauséjour

The Quebec Region covers the entire Province of Quebec. Given the double taxation system, the CRA maintains a close partnership with Revenu Québec, thus allowing for concerted management of the main issues faced by both administrations. The Quebec Region employs approximately 5,600 employees. With a population of approximately 8.5 million, Quebec represents the second largest region, behind Ontario.

Ontario Region

Assistant Commissioner, Maria Mavroyannis

The Ontario Region covers the largest geographic region (in terms of land size and population) in the CRA, servicing the province of Ontario as well as the territory of Nunavut. The Ontario Region employs approximately 13,000 employees and provides tax and benefit administration to a population of more than 14 million people, making it the largest region.

Prairie Region

Assistant Commissioner, Ross Ermel

The Prairie Region covers Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and the Northwest Territories. The Prairie Region employs approximately 6,900 CRA employees.

Pacific Region

Assistant Commissioner, Ross Ermel

The Pacific Region covers the province of British Columbia and the Yukon. The Pacific Region employs approximately 4,900 CRA employees.

Taxpayers’ Ombudsman

Mandate of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman

The Office of the Taxpayers' Ombudsman (OTO) was established by Order in Council P.C. 2007 08 to enhance the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) accountability in its service to, and treatment of, taxpayers and benefit recipients. The current Taxpayers’ Ombudsman is Ms. Sherra Profit.

The mandate of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman is to assist, advise, and inform the Minister about any matter relating to services provided to a taxpayer by the CRA. The Taxpayers' Ombudsman fulfills this mandate by upholding 8 of the 16 taxpayer service rights outlined in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights by providing an independent and impartial review of unresolved complaints from taxpayers about the service or treatment they have received from the CRA. The Ombudsman does so, by identifying and reviewing systemic and emerging issues related to service matters that impact negatively on taxpayers, facilitating access by taxpayers to redress mechanisms within the Agency to address service matters, and providing information to taxpayers about the mandate of the Ombudsman.

The full Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights with all 16 rights has been provided to you in a separate document. Of those 16, the following 8 service rights are those upheld by the Ombudsman:

The Taxpayers’ Ombudsman will generally review a complaint only after all the CRA's internal complaint resolution mechanisms have been exhausted. There are certain types of complaints that the Ombudsman cannot review, such as complaints that are not service-related or where matters are before the courts.

The Ombudsman Liaison Office

The Ombudsman Liaison Office (OLO) is located in the Service, Innovation and Integration Branch, serving as the designated point of contact in the CRA for the OTO for service-related issues. OLO facilitates the OTO’s activities in the Agency, and provides assistance to the Ombudsman to fulfill their mandate in a timely manner.

Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman Reports

The OTO has published 11 annual reports, 12 special reports, and one observation paper since 2008.

The Ombudsman is preparing to finalize or has already finalized the following reports/papers for this fiscal year:

Reports/Papers for this fiscal year
Date to Minister Ombudsman's Deliverable
October to December 2019
  • Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) (observation paper)
  • T1 processing/T1 delays (systemic examination report)
  • Vulnerable populations/digitalization (discussion paper)
January to March 2020
  • Taxpayer Bill of Rights (systemic examination report)
  • Administration of Canada Child Benefit (observation paper)
  • Section 87 exemption examining service issues concerning the sufficiency of information provided by the CRA about tax exemptions provided by subsection 81(1)(a) of the Income Tax Act and section 87 of the Indian Act (systemic examination report)
  • OTO draft 2019-2020 Annual Report (to be published in May or June 2020 prior to the completion of the Ombudsman’s mandate in July 2020)
Appointment of New Ombudsman

Ms. Profit is serving a five-year, non-renewable term as Taxpayer’s Ombudman, which will end in July 2020. The Agency will work with the Privy Council Office and your office, in early 2020, on the process to identify and for the Governor in Council to appoint a new Ombudsman prior to the expiry of Ms Profit’s term.

Sherra Profit, Taxpayers’ Ombudsman

Sherra Profit

Ms. Sherra Profit’s appointment as the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman was announced on April 10, 2015. Ms. Profit took office on July 6, 2015.

Prior to joining the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman, Ms. Profit practiced law in Prince Edward Island for more than fifteen years. During this time, she gained experience in a variety of legal disciplines, including alternate dispute resolution, general litigation, real property, estates and trusts, family law, corporate law, and commercial law.

Ms. Profit holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Francis Xavier University and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Saskatchewan. She was called to the Bar in Prince Edward Island in 2000.

Taxpayer Bill of Rights

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights was launched in 2007 to demonstrate the Government of Canada’s commitment to fairness for taxpayers. It is a set of sixteen rights confirming that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will serve taxpayers with a high degree of accuracy, professionalism, courteousness, and fairness. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights also includes the CRA Commitment to Small Business, a five-part statement through which the CRA pledges to create a competitive, and dynamic business environment in which Canadian businesses will thrive.

Image described below

Image description

A description of the sixteen rights Canadian taxpayers have under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

The title of the image is Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

On the left-hand side of the image are the words, from top to bottom, You Have The Right To. Sixteen parallel horizontal lines lead from those words to a list of the sixteen rights that Canadian taxpayers have. Those rights, on the right-hand side of the page, are listed, from top to bottom, as follows:

  • receive entitlements and to pay no more and no less than what is required by law
  • service in both official languages
  • privacy and confidentiality
  • a formal review and a subsequent appeal

★ be treated professionally, courteously, and fairly
★ complete, accurate, clear, and timely information

  • unless otherwise provided by law, not to pay income tax amounts in dispute before you have had an impartial review
  • have the law applied consistently

★ lodge a service complaint and to be provided with an explanation of our findings
★ have the costs of compliance taken into account when administering tax legislation
★ expect us to be accountable

  • relief from penalties and interest under tax legislation because of extraordinary circumstances

★ expect us to publish our service standards and report annually
★ expect us to warn you about questionable tax schemes in a timely manner
★ be represented by a person of your choice

  • lodge a service complaint and request a formal review without fear of reprisal

Commitment to Small Business

The Canada Revenue Agency is committed to:

  1. Administering the tax system in a way that minimizes the costs of compliance for small businesses
  2. Working with all governments to streamline service, minimize cost, and reduce the compliance burden
  3. Providing service offerings that meet the needs of small businesses
  4. Conducting outreach activities that help small businesses comply with the legislation we administer
  5. Explaining how we conduct our business with small businesses

★ Of the 16 rights listed, the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman is responsible for upholding the eight starred service rights

OAG Performance Audits – Recent and Upcoming

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has been the subject of a recent performance audit by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) relating to student financial assistance. The most recent CRA-related audit tabled in Parliament was the Taxation of e-commerce, in May 2019.

Considerations:

The CRA is routinely the subject of OAG performance audits regarding our operational capabilities and program delivery. Media and public interest tends to range from low to moderate. The CRA is generally able to respond positively to recommendations where resource capacity permits us to do so.

Taxation of e-commerce

This audit was tabled in the 2019 Spring Reports of the Auditor General of Canada in May 2019. The objective of the audit was to determine whether the CRA, the Canada Border Services Agency, and the Department of Finance Canada ensured that the tax system was neutral and that the GST/HST tax base was protected. The audit report contains two recommendations for the CRA. The CRA agreed with the recommendations and submitted responses to address the identified issues.

The OAG concluded that the CRA was limited by its legislative authority and could not ensure either that the sales tax system was applied in a neutral way or that the GST/HST tax base was protected with regards to cross border e-commerce. The OAG found that, in situations where the CRA had authority, the Agency conducted a limited amount of compliance activities.

Student Financial Assistance

The objective of this audit is to determine whether Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and the CRA have managed financial assistance for post-secondary education and the risks to the public treasury in an efficient manner, while facilitating access for Canadians to colleges and universities. This audit also reviewed the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to ensure they worked with partners to strengthen student financial literacy.

Background:

The Office of the OAG serves Parliament by providing it with objective, fact-based information and expert advice on government programs and activities, gathered through audits. Parliamentarians use OAG reports to oversee government activities and hold the federal government to account for its handling of public funds.

The Auditor General of Canada is an Officer of Parliament who carries out work on behalf of Parliament, and who is accountable to Parliament.

The Office of the Auditor General audits:

The OAG conducts between 25 and 30 legislative audits each year. The three main types of audits include financial, performance, and special examinations. Topics are selected by the OAG through risk analysis to identify areas that are most significant and relevant to Parliament. The OAG also receives requests to audit from individual citizens, groups, members of Parliament, and senators. The ultimate decision about what to audit rests with the Auditor General.

Corporate Documents

Corporate Business Plan

The Corporate Business Plan (CBP) is the primary corporate planning document used by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to communicate its strategic agenda over a three-year planning period. The Summary of the CBP is publicly available on Canada.ca.

Currently, the CBP focuses on the following five strategic priorities:

  1. Providing a seamless service experience
  2. Maintaining fairness in Canada’s tax and benefits administration
  3. Strengthening trust, transparency, and accountability
  4. Enabling innovation
  5. Empowering our people to excel
Background

The development of the CBP is the responsibility of the CRA's Board of Management and is approved by the Treasury Board of Canada pursuant to the requirements of the Canada Revenue Agency Act. 

The CRA is also responsible for the development of a similar planning document under the requirements of the Financial Administration Act. This related document, the Departmental Plan, is tabled in Parliament by the President of the Treasury Board of Canada. The Departmental Plan contains the same information concerning CRA priorities as in the Summary. Both the Departmental Plan and the Summary are almost identical to the Corporate Business Plan, with each fulfilling a particular statutory requirement.

Current status

The Summary of the Corporate Business Plan 2019-2020 with perspectives to 2021-22 was published and a copy accompanies your briefing binder. The CBP 2020-2021 is currently under development.  

Departmental Results Report

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Departmental Results Report is the primary reporting document used by the CRA to communicate its results to Parliament and Canadians, and is publicly available on Canada.ca.

Background

The Financial Administration Act requires all federal departments and agencies to annually present a Departmental Results Report to the President of the Treasury Board of Canada for tabling in Parliament.

Current status

The Departmental Results Report for the period ending March 31, 2019, is expected to be tabled in Parliament in December 2019 or January 2020, and is expected to be due to the Treasury Board Secretariat in early December 2019.

The report includes a Minister’s message. We expect to seek your views on the message and your approval by December 1, 2019.

Expenditure Management

The Federal Budget outlines the government’s spending and priorities for the coming years and is a key planning document.

The Estimates provide information on the resources required to deliver programs to Canadians and supports the voted amounts included in an appropriation act. Every dollar that appears in an appropriation act must first be approved by Treasury Board (TB).

The Main Estimates present the government’s spending plans for each government organization for the coming year. They contain both statutory programs (included for information purposes only) and appropriations which must be authorized annually by ParliamentFootnote 1. The Commissioner may be called upon to defend the CRA’s Main or Supplementary Estimates before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. The Minister may be invited and choose to attend. Ministers cannot be summoned to appear, and cannot be forced to answer questions or reveal information that would threaten national security or breach Cabinet secrecy.

Timing is such that, historically, the Main Estimates do not include new spending initiatives announced in the Federal Budget. Funding for these initiatives must first receive support through a TB submission, and then are included in one of the Supplementary Estimates or in the following year’s Main Estimates.

As part of a two-year pilot project, the House of Commons approved a change allowing the 2018-19 and 2019-20 Main Estimates to be tabled in Parliament as late as April 16 instead of March 1.

As part of this pilot, funding for new spending initiatives announced in the 2018 and 2019 Federal Budgets were included in Budget Implementation votes and released for use by departments following approval of the associated TB submissions. The intent is to allow for timelier implementation of federal budget announcements.

Each fall, the government tables the Public Accounts of Canada, to account for each organization’s spending compared to its approved authorities in the previous fiscal year. These also include the government’s consolidated financial statements for that same period.

As an Agency, the CRA benefits from a two-year appropriation (i.e., funds voted in one year can be spent over two fiscal years). This two‐year spending authority enables the CRA to be more flexible and strategic in its use of public funds.

CRA Budget

2019–20 Main Estimates

$4.5B budget, of which 21.5% (or $967.4M) is funded from statutory authorities and 78.5% (or $3.5B) from voted authorities.

2019-20 Main Estimates – Authorities
Main Estimates by Authorities Main Estimates % of Total
Vote 1 – Operating
$3,448.2 76.5%
Vote 5 – Capital $25.9 0.6%
Budget Implementation (Budget 2019) $60.9 1.4%
Statutory Authorities Other
$516.0 11.5%
Statutory Authorities Employee Benefit Plans $451.4 10.0%
2019-20 Main Estimate Authorities
$4,502.4 99.9%
Image description

This is a pie chart that represents the Canada Revenue Agency’s 2019-20 budgetary expenditure estimates for the 4.5B budget allocated to the CRA from Parliament. The chart is titled 2019-20 Main Estimate Authorities = 4.5B in bold letters, and is located at the bottom-right of the image. The budgetary expenditure estimates are as follows:

Statutory Authorities Employee Benefit Plans
$451.4M
10.0%

Statutory Authorities Other
$516.0M
11.5%

Budget Implementation (Budget 2019)
$60.9M
1.4%

Vote 5 – Capital
$25.9M
0.6%

Vote 1 – Operating
$3,448.2M
76.5%

Authorities

In addition to its statutory authorities, the CRA has two annually voted appropriations (commonly referred to as "votes"):

Vote 1 – Operating (covering the Agency's base operations, including salaries (77%) and operating expenditures such as accommodations, supplies, postage, training, travel, legal and IT services, etc.).

Vote 5 – Capital (covering the acquisition or creation of mainly IT assets expected to exceed $10,000).

In 2019–20, the CRA’s Main Estimates also included a number of budget implementation votes for new spending initiatives announced in the 2019 Federal Budget.

In addition to the $4.5B, the 2019-20 Main Estimates include $363.8M in revenues to cover costs associated with support the CRA provides to Employment and Social Development Canada in administering the Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance legislation.

Core responsibilities and programs

The CRA’s budget supports the delivery of three core responsibilities – Tax, Benefits, and the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman. These in turn are supported by internal services (finance, human resources, information technology, real property, etc.).

Budgets are allocated to functional branches which in turn allocate the funding to programs across headquarters and in the regions based on negotiated work plans. The CRA has twenty-three externally reported programs, of which eleven are under Tax, one under Benefits, one under the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman, and ten under internal services.

2019-20 Main Estimates – Authorities
Core responsibilities
Main Estimates Authorities
Main Estimates % of Total
Tax $3,156.3 70.0%
Benefits $500.0 11.1%
Taxpayers' Ombudsman $3.5 0.1%
Internal Services
$781.8 17.4%
Budget $60.9 1.4%
2019-20 Main Estimate Authorities $4,502.4 99.9%
Image description

This is a pie chart that represents the Canada Revenue Agency’s 2019-20 budgetary expenditure estimates for funding programs across headquarters and in the regions, and for supporting the delivery of its three core responsibilities – Tax, Benefits, and the Taxpayer’s Ombudsman. The chart is titled 2019-20 Main Estimate Authorities = 4.5B in bold letters, and is located at the bottom-right of the image. The budgetary expenditure estimates are as follows:

Budget Implementation
$60.9M
1.4%

Internal Services
$781.8M
17.4%

Taxpayers’ Ombudsman
$3.5M
0.1%

Benefits
$500.0M
11.1%

Tax
$3,156.3M
70.0%

2019-20 Main Estimates – Authorities
Programs
$ millions % of total
Tax    

Tax Services and Processing

799.7
17.8%

Charities

37.4 0.8%

Registered Plans

19.0 0.4%

Policy, Rulings, and Interpretations

113.8 2.5%

Service Complaints

13.6 0.3%

Objections and Appeals

200.0 4.4%

Taxpayer Relief

18.5 0.4%

International and Large Business Compliance and Criminal Investigations

438.5 9.7%

Domestic Compliance

751.5 16.7%

Returns Compliance

337.2 7.5%

Collections

427.1 9.5%
Benefits 500.0 11.1%
Taxpayers’ Ombudsman 3.5 0.1%
Internal Services 781.8 17.4%
2019–20 Planned Spending 4,441.6 98.6%
Budget Implementation (Budget 2019) 60.9 1.4%
2019–20 Main Estimates 4,502.4 100.0%
Changes in CRA budget levels

Changes in the CRA’s voted authorities over the last five years are primarily attributable to incremental funding for federal budget and policy measures announced by the Minister of Finance, transfers from Public Services and Procurement Canada for accommodation and real property services, as well as wage settlements. The fluctuations under the capital vote are primarily the result of the transfer of operating resources in order to address changes in the nature of funding required to carry out major project investments approved through the CRA’s annual Strategic Investment Plan.

The decrease in statutory funding is primarily attributable to a reduction in disbursements to the provinces following the expiration of the Softwood Lumber Agreement and changes in employee benefit plan rates.  

Changes in CRA budget levels
Voted 2015–16 ($ millions)
2016–17 ($ millions) 2017–18 ($ millions) 2018–18 ($ millions) 2019–20 ($ millions)
Vote 1 – Operating
2,898.9 3,032.1 3,173.4 3,448.2 3,448.2
Vote 5 – Capital 80.5 37.1 59.4 70.8 25.9
Budget Implementation (Budget 2019)
60.9
Total Voted
2,979.4
3,069.2 3,232.7 3,288.1
3,535.0
Statutory 825.4 1,016.5
930.2 916.6 967.4
Total Main Estimates
3,804.8
4,085.7 4,162.9 4,204.7 4,502.4
Departmental forecast – 2019-20 departmental plan
Departmental forecast – 2019–20 departmental plan
  2019-20 Main EstimatesFootnote 4 2019-20  Planned Spending 2020-21 Planned Spending 2021-22 Planned Spending
Financial Resource ($ millions) 4,502.4
4,441.6 4,384.6 4,387.3
Human Resources (full-time equivalents) –  41,796 41,195 41,014

Over the 2019-20 to 2021-22 planning period, the CRA’s appropriations show a slight reduction primarily as a result of planned decreases in funding received to implement and administer various measures announced in the federal budgets as well as the federal carbon pollution pricing system and the upgrade of the individual income tax processing system. Further reductions are associated with the reallocation of departmental resources as announced in the 2018 Federal Budget to improve the management of information technology within the Government of Canada and to support related cyber security measures.

Internal reallocation mechanisms

The CRA has a rigorous financial management regime and system of controls over planning and budgeting. This includes a number of internal reallocation mechanisms to ensure that the disbursement of resources is done prudently and effectively, and is aligned with the strategic direction and priorities of the Agency and the Government.

Most notably, this consists of bi-annual Resource Management Strategy Updates to evaluate and prioritize operational and emerging pressures against available financial flexibility; an Annual Resource Alignment Process to review, on a more structured basis, how allocations are aligned with Agency and Government priorities; and the annual preparation of the Strategic Investment Plan to facilitate the alignment between major investment decisions and corporate priorities, on a ten-year planning horizon.

Key impacts of recent budgets

Over the last five years the CRA has received incremental funding to implement and administer a number of federal budget and policy measures.

Type of Measure: Revenue Generation – Enhanced Compliance
Federal Budget Funding for 2019-20Footnote 5 Funding over 5-year periodFootnote 5 Description
2015
103.3 419.2 Funding to expand and enhance a number of audit and non-audit programs including those that target the underground economy, offshore non-compliance and aggressive tax avoidance by large complex entities.
2016
99.2 456.5 Funding to enhance efforts to crack down on tax evasion and combat tax avoidance by hiring additional auditors and specialists, developing robust business intelligence infrastructure, increasing verification activities, and improving the quality of investigative work that targets criminal tax evaders.
2017 77.6 523.9 Funding to prevent tax evasion and improve tax compliance by funding new initiatives and extending existing programs. Includes increasing verification activities, hiring additional auditors and specialists with a focus on the underground economy, developing robust business intelligence infrastructure and risk assessment systems to target high-risk international tax and abusive tax avoidance cases, and improving the quality of investigative work that targets criminal tax evaders.
2018 17.9 90.6 Funding to address additional cases that have been identified through enhanced risk assessment systems, both domestically and internationally.
2019Footnote 6 25.2 195.6 Funding for new initiatives and to extend existing programs, including hiring additional auditors, conducting outreach and building technical expertise to target non-compliance associated with cryptocurrency transactions and the digital economy, creating a new data quality examination team to ensure proper withholding, remitting and reporting of income earned by non-residents, and extending programs aimed at combatting offshore non-compliance. Funding also provided to create four new dedicated residential and commercial real estate audit teams in high-risk regions.
  323.1 1,685.8  
Type of Measure: Revenue Generation – Enhancing tax collections
Federal Budget Funding for 2019-20Footnote 5 Funding over 5-year periodFootnote 5 Description
2016
104.9 351.6 Funding to improve the CRA’s ability to collect outstanding tax debts.
  104.9 351.6  

Using funding provided in federal budgets, the CRA’s compliance and collections activities have overall met or exceeded their revenue generation commitments.

Type of Measure: Client-focused services
Federal Budget Funding for 2019-20Footnote 5 Funding over 5-year periodFootnote 5 Description
2016
25.2 172.2 Key initiatives include improved telephone access, resolving taxpayer objections, outreach and Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) activities.
2018 38.2 206.0 Funding to improve telephone services, enhance the CVITP, and strengthen digital services.
2019 8.5 50.5 Funding to improve T1 adjustments, including hiring additional staff, and to extend the dedicated telephone support line for tax service providers.
  71.9 428.7  
Type of Measure: Security
Federal Budget Funding for 2019-20 Funding over 5-year period Description
2018
6.0 30.0 Funding to enhance the security of taxpayer information.
  6.0 30.0  
Type of Measure: Legislative and other
Federal Budget Funding for 2019-20 Funding over 5-year period Description
2015 21.8 131.4 Key initiatives include enhanced Universal Child Care BenefitFootnote 7, Family Tax CutFootnote 7, and the Automatic Exchange Of Information/Common Reporting Standard (CRS).
2016 3.9 44.9 Key initiatives include the Canada Child Benefit, Country-by-Country Reporting, and efforts to protect the charitable sector from risk of terrorist financing.
2017 1.0 Funding for the Timing of Recognition of Gains and Losses Derivatives.
2018 38.3 173.5 Key initiatives include CRS – Phase II, Reporting Requirements for Trusts, Phoenix – Operational Pressures.
2019Footnote 6 13.5 95.5 Key initiatives include funding to improve the CRA’s information technology systems, including replacing legacy systems, and to increase the number of Business Equity Valuators (BEV) and address the increasing number of complex referrals made to the BEV program.
  77.5 446.4  

CRA Partnerships

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) maintains partnerships with a wide range of government, not-for-profit, and private sector organizations to support the administration of the tax and benefit regime.

The CRA also engages key stakeholder groups to help advance its goals and priorities and to extend its influence and expertise. Stakeholder engagement includes interactions with specific clients, client representatives, and other organizations such as professional and civil society associations and groups. It excludes outreach efforts and regular communication efforts to support delivery or compliance. 

Federal

The most important federal partnership the CRA has is with the Department of Finance Canada, given its role in developing Government of Canada tax policy and legislation. The CRA administers this legislation and provides Finance Canada with input on proposed changes to that legislation.

The CRA also maintains working relationships with other central agencies. The CRA works closely with the Privy Council Office in carrying out the direction of the Government of Canada. We work with the Treasury Board Secretariat on Treasury Board submissions, the launch of new programs and the development of regulations. In addition, the CRA follows central agency guidance on collective agreement negotiations, external communications, and public opinion research. A separate note provides more detailed information on the role of central agencies in government.

The CRA supports the administration of Employment Insurance, Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement, the Canada Pension Plan, Registered Disability Savings Plan, and Canada Education Savings Plan programs with Employment and Social Development Canada and Service Canada.

The CRA is a partner in the National Routing System (led by Statistics Canada); receiving birth/death registration information from the provincial/territorial Vital Statistics Offices. The CRA also provides statistical services and tax data to Statistics Canada.

The CRA has partnerships with many departments (e.g., Elections Canada and Correctional Service Canada) to share information.

The CRA is supported in its work by Shared Services Canada, a centralized provider of information technology and other services (email, telecommunications) to government departments.

Provincial and territorial

The CRA partners with provincial and territorial ministries of finance in collecting tax, administering benefits, and sharing information. This includes individual and corporate income tax for nearly all provinces, harmonized sales tax in Ontario and the four Atlantic provinces, and sales and income tax for First Nations governments. Exceptions are Alberta, which administers its own corporate tax regime and Quebec, which administers its own individual and corporate tax regimes.

The CRA’s administration of provincial corporate and personal income taxes is governed by tax collection agreements signed by federal and provincial or territorial finance ministers. The basic administration of provincial or territorial tax and related benefit programs is free of charge. However, the provinces or territories may request enhanced services from the CRA, such as increased verification of tax credit claims, on a cost recovery basis.

International

While Finance Canada leads on policy issues in representing Canada internationally at various fora, the CRA collaborates with other tax jurisdictions at an administrative level. This collaboration promotes the exchange of knowledge and best practices, helps ensure effective and non-duplicative approaches to tax administration across borders, and supports efforts to strengthen tax administration capacity in developing countries. The CRA has developed a close working relationship with fellow tax administrators from the Internal Revenue Service (United States), Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (United Kingdom), the Australian Taxation Office, and New Zealand’s Inland Revenue.

The CRA participates in the activities of several international organizations, including the following:

The CRA Commissioner is the Vice-Chair of the OECD Forum on Tax Administration (FTA), and a sponsor of the Large Business and International Program and the Capacity Building Network. In addition to the Commissioner’s individual role, the Agency is also an active member of several operational groups such as the Joint International Taskforce on Shared Intelligence and Collaboration, and the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement.

Civil society organizations (CSO)

CRA engages with CSOs as stakeholders to gather business intelligence and enlist support for Agency efforts to deliver its mandate. Working closely with stakeholders gives the CRA a more genuine understanding of their perspectives on key strategic issues, which may have an impact on their organizations as well as the CRA clients they serve. It also promotes openness and transparency in CRA decision making on policy and program development. The following represent some of the CSO’s that the CRA engages with on tax related issues:

In 2014, the CRA and CPAC signed a framework agreement to enhance collaboration, enhance CRA services, and ensure a well-run tax system in Canada. The following were identified as potential areas for collaboration: service, compliance, tax administration, scientific research and experimental development, commodity tax, red tape reduction, and training.

The CRA meets twice a year with CFIB through the Small Business Consultation Forum. This joint forum was launched in 2015 and provides the Agency with valuable feedback from the small and medium business community.

The CRA also has ongoing relationships with a variety of software development companies who produce tax preparation software that Canadians can use to file their taxes. The CRA certifies this software for use in time for the start of each tax filing season. In 2018, the CRA committed to working with associations to improve services for Canadians. The primary goal of this collaboration is to produce and promote innovative, secure, and convenient electronic tax filing services.

The CRA administers the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program across the country and in partnership with Revenu Québec in that province, where it is called the Income Tax Assistance – Volunteer Program. This program allows partner organizations to host tax preparation sessions for modest income taxpayers and those with simple tax situations. The CRA offers training, tax software, and telephone support to the volunteers.

Finally, the CRA has established strong channels of communication with several leading organizations in the charitable sector, which represent thousands of member charities. The CRA leverages these networks to help address specific regulatory challenges for charities and monitor developments in the sector.

Advisory committees

The Minister of National Revenue’s Underground Economy Advisory Committee, launched in November 2014, provides the Minister and the CRA with an industry perspective and feedback on the government’s ongoing efforts to combat the underground economy.

The Disability Advisory Committee, reinstated in 2017, offers advice and recommendations to the Minister of National Revenue and the Commissioner on CRA services, products, policies, issues, and initiatives related to the disability tax credit. The CRA is committed to consulting this committee before making administrative changes to the disability tax credit program.

The Offshore Compliance Advisory Committee (OCAC), created in April 2016 has as its focus offshore tax evasion and aggressive tax planning. OCAC provides advice, input and recommendations to the Minister of National Revenue and to the CRA on the Agency’s  administration, policies, procedures and priorities for offshore compliance.

The External Advisory Panel on Service, established in 2018, supports the CRA’s overall service transformation. Members share experiences and lessons learned, and provide advice on emerging trends, plans and practices in service design and delivery. Chaired by the Commissioner, the panel is comprised of senior leaders and experts from the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors with expertise in digital services, client-centric service design, delivery, and innovation.

The Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector was established in March 2019 and is co chaired by the charitable sector and the CRA. It provides recommendations to the Minister of National Revenue and the Commissioner of the CRA on important and emerging issues facing registered charities and other qualified donees on an ongoing basis.

In recent years, changes in technology and in the ways that Canadians consume news have made it difficult for many news outlets to find and maintain financially sustainable business models. Budget 2019 announced an independent panel, the Journalism and Written Media Independent Panel of Experts. The Panel recommended the establishment of an Advisory Council, with members to be appointed to act as special advisers to the Minister of National Revenue. The Advisory Council will be responsible for making recommendations on whether an organization meets the requirements for qualified Canadian journalism organization (QCJO) status. The Advisory Council has yet to be established through an Order in Council.

Government 101

There are three central agencies in the Government of Canada: the Privy Council Office, the Treasury Board Secretariat, and the Department of Finance. These central agencies contribute to the successful formulation and implementation of government policies and programs. They oversee interdepartmental information sharing, consultation and co ordination. They also provide integrated advice and support to the Prime Minister (PM) and Cabinet on government-wide issues.

Privy Council Office

The Privy Council Office (PCO) reports directly to the PM and is sometimes called the PM’s department. Unlike the PM’s Office, the PCO is staffed with public servants who offer non-partisan services and advice. The PCO is headed by the Clerk of the Privy Council, who is also Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Public Service.

The PCO’s role in assisting the PM and Cabinet give it substantial influence. Departments must consider the advice of the PCO carefully because it generally reflects the wishes of the PM and/or Cabinet.

The PCO has three main roles:

1. Support to Cabinet

The PCO acts as the secretariat for Cabinet as a whole and the committees of Cabinet (except Treasury Board, which is supported by the Treasury Board Secretariat). The PCO arranges meetings, proposes and circulates agendas, distributes documents, provides advice to committee chairpersons, records Cabinet minutes and decisions, and transmits subsequent Cabinet decisions to departments.

The PCO works with departments on their proposals to Cabinet, called Memorandums to Cabinet, or MCs, challenging departmental submissions to ensure that they meet the information needs of Cabinet and that they are consistent with the government’s overall policy direction. The PCO makes sure that departments coordinate their efforts with respect to policy proposals or issues that cut across departments, ensuring that all interested ministers and their officials are given an opportunity to express their views.

2. Provide non-partisan advice to the PM

The PCO assists the PM in strategic policy planning, ensures coordination of the government’s policy objectives, and manages major issues. For example, the PCO assists the PM in writing the Speech from the Throne and works closely with the Department of Finance when it prepares the budget. The PCO provides policy advice in specific areas, including foreign affairs, defence, national security, and intergovernmental affairs, and any other policy issues of particular concern to the PM.

The PCO advises the PM on machinery-of-government issues, Governor-in-Council appointments and constitutional matters.

3. Link between the PM and the public service

As Head of the Public Service, the Clerk of the Privy Council is responsible to the PM for the overall performance and effective management of the public service. The Clerk advances the government’s public service management agenda, provides advice on the appointment of senior public service personnel, serves as the spokesperson for the public service, and prepares an annual report on the state of the public service.

Treasury Board Secretariat

The Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) assists the Treasury Board, a Cabinet committee established by law, in fulfilling its responsibilities. The TBS is headed by the Secretary of the Treasury Board, who is a deputy minister. The TBS also includes the Office of the Comptroller General of Canada, which is responsible for providing government-wide direction and assistance on financial management and internal audit. In addition, the TBS provides advice to the Treasury Board in its formulation of policy pertaining to: human resources, employee compensation, service delivery, information management and information technology, official languages and asset and acquired services.

The Treasury Board is composed of ministers responsible for the management of government expenditure and human resources in the public service. It is comprised of the president of the Treasury Board and four other ministers appointed by the Prime Minister. It is the only permanent committee of Cabinet.

While the Department of Finance is responsible for establishing general policy on government revenues and expenditures, the Treasury Board oversees the management of the budget and credits. It also plays a coordinating role in the preparation of the budget.

Department of Finance

The Minister of Finance is responsible for the government's fiscal policy, including tax policy, and for analyzing the economic and fiscal impact of proposals by any Minister. The Department of Finance (Finance) assists the Minister in developing the government’s fiscal framework in which overall spending takes place. As the federal government’s leading source of socio-economic analysis and advice, it advises the Minister on economic trends, tax policy, financial sector policy, as well as international trade and finance, and federal-provincial fiscal arrangements.

Finance’s most prominent role is assisting the Minister in developing the annual budget. The budget is a statement of the government’s fiscal plan in light of its current and expected financial situation. It outlines the government’s projected revenues, incorporating any changes in taxation and spending, and announcing new spending plans. Through the budget process, the Minister of Finance establishes a fiscal framework within which the government's expenditure management system can operate effectively.

Finance is also active in a number of other areas such as assisting the Minister of Finance in:

Finance is a central actor in virtually all policy decisions, because the allocation of funds from the fiscal framework is almost always required to proceed with a policy initiative. Through close collaboration and consultation, Finance and TBS ensure the cohesion and effectiveness of the decision-making process. These two agencies, through the PCO, provide the PM and Cabinet committees with advice on policy, related funding issues and the economic impact of proposals before Cabinet.

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