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Briefing for the Minister of National Revenue

Pocket book

This section provides key messages to support you if you are called upon to respond to media inquiries.

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Canada Revenue Agency overview

CRA key factsFootnote 1

43,324 full-time equivalent employees

3,025 employees working in a CRA buildingFootnote 2

Tax filing

More than 32 million individual and corporate returns filed

49 million calls received
(more than doubled due to COVID-19 relief measures)

90% of individual income tax and benefit returns filed electronically

94% of corporation
income tax returns filed electronically


46 million log-ins to My Account during this year's tax-filing season

Benefits and credits

  • $44.4 billion in benefits issued
  • Administered 9 new COVID-19 emergency relief programs and provided 2 additional benefit payments, for a total of over $190 billion.Footnote 3
  • Administered 195 federal, provincial and territorial benefit and credit programs and services

Collections

Administered over $482 billion in revenue and pension contributions

Resolved just under
$74 billion in outstanding
tax debt

CRA's mandate

Issue

The Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) mandate is to ensure Canadians pay their appropriate share of taxes and receive the benefits they are entitled to. The CRA administers various acts, including the Income Tax Act, Excise Tax Act and Excise Act and has other administrative responsibilities. The CRA collects taxes on behalf of the Government of Canada, most provinces and territories, and some First Nations.

Key messages

  • I am pleased that the Prime Minister has appointed me to this role and entrusted me to advance the Government's agenda.
  • For many Canadians, their main interaction with the Government of Canada is their tax-filing experience.
  • During fiscal year 2020-21, more than 32 million individual and corporate tax returns were filed and the CRA administered over $482 billion in revenue and pension contributions.
  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, the CRA administered 9 benefit and subsidy programs and provided 2 additional benefit payments. These programs provided more than $190 billion in urgently needed support.
  • As we move forward with the Government's agenda to further the economic and social well-being of Canadians, I look forward to working with the CRA to meet and deliver on the tasks ahead.

Service commitment

Issue

The CRA is becoming a more client-centric, empathetic organization.

Key messages

  • The CRA serves millions of Canadians every year.
  • The CRA's goal is to be trusted, fair, and helpful by putting people first.
  • The CRA is always looking at how it can improve its support to Canadians in meeting their tax obligations and knowing what benefits they are eligible to receive – including the COVID-19 pandemic response benefits and subsidies.
  • By adopting a People First vision, the CRA puts the needs and expectations of its employees and Canadians at the centre of its decision making. It embodies a culture that values empathy, supporting Canadians, as well as innovative practices, fair and objective decision making and redress.

Requests for taxpayer information (Section 241, Income Tax Act)

Issue

Section 241 of the Income Tax Act (ITA) sets out the confidentiality requirements surrounding taxpayer information – mainly prohibiting its disclosure; with exceptions existing in very limited, specific circumstances. As such, officials of the CRA are prohibited from providing taxpayer information to anyone unless specifically authorized by Section 241 of the ITA. A breach of Section 241 is an offence punishable by fine or imprisonment.

Key messages

  • The CRA must maintain the confidentiality requirements surrounding taxpayer information as set by Parliament in Section 241 of the Income Tax Act.
  • As such, that will limit what I - or the CRA - can comment on regarding taxpayer-specific cases.

Employment equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism at the CRA

Issue

Following a renewed global call to end systemic racism, inequality and all forms of discrimination, the CRA has renewed its commitment to building an inclusive work culture and an Agency that is representative of the country it serves, at all levels of the organization.

Key messages

  • I look forward to working with my senior officials to effect real and lasting change towards a culture of inclusiveness and a more diverse and representative workforce.
  • The CRA is firmly dedicated to diversity, inclusion and anti-racism, aligning with its values of professionalism, integrity, respect and collaboration.
  • There remains more work to be done at the CRA in order to achieve equity, including addressing underrepresentation for visible minorities, Indigenous peoples, and persons with disabilities, especially at senior levels of the organization.

Upcoming workplace and workforce changes

Issue

During the COVID-19 pandemic, CRA employees demonstrated their ability to effectively deliver tax and benefit programs with more than 90% of employees working remotely. Seizing the opportunity, the CRA is moving to a hybrid model of working that will balance its operational needs with accommodating employee preferences. This hybrid model will allow some employees to continue to work remotely full-time, others to work from CRA worksites full-time, or a combination of both remote and on-site work, depending on business requirements.

Key messages

  • The health and safety of CRA employees is a top priority, regardless of whether an employee works from home or at a CRA worksite.
  • The CRA has continued to deliver services, including numerous COVID-19 support measures to Canadians, during the pandemic.
  • The CRA continues to follow guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer.

Court cases

Issue

The CRA is frequently involved in court cases of people, corporations, and trusts charged with tax evasion or for failing to file tax returns when required. The CRA is also involved in several class-action law suits, including one as lead client on behalf of the Government of Canada related to credential stuffing cyber attacks in the summer of 2020.

Key message

As this matter is before the courts, I cannot comment on the details of this case.

Potential changes to tax policy

Issue

Various tax policy proposals were included in the Government's election platform. Matters of tax policy, including modifications to the legislation the CRA administers, fall under the purview of the Minister of Finance.

Key messages

  • It is important to note that the role of the Minister of Finance is to develop the Government's tax policy. The CRA's responsibility is to administer this policy once implemented.
  • I look forward to working closely with the Minister of Finance to effectively administer existing measures and implement the Government's tax policy agenda.

Top issues

Benefits/programs

Pandemic response benefits

Issue

The CRA is striving to maintain a balance between making the COVID-19 emergency and recovery benefits and subsidies accessible to those who urgently need them while providing safeguards to protect Canadians' identities, the integrity of the programs and to prevent high-risk and/or fraudulent applications.

Key messages
  • Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CRA has designed and rolled out in record time 9 emergency response benefit and subsidy programs and provided 2 additional benefits payments, which have delivered urgently needed income support to millions of individuals and businesses.
  • The eligibility criteria for COVID-19 benefits and subsidies were designed in the legislation enacted by Parliament to be as inclusive as possible so that workers who needed support could receive it.
  • On October 21, 2021 the Government of Canada announced its intention to extend, modify and introduce new COVID-19 benefits and programs. These measures include the Canada Recovery Hiring Program, the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program, the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program and the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit. The CRA is working closely with the Department of Finance Canada in order to be able to implement and administer these programs in a timely manner following their approval.
  • Those who received benefit or subsidy payments, and are later determined to have been ineligible, will be required to repay those amounts.

Charitable sector

Issue

As registered charities receive significant fiscal advantages, the CRA's role in regulating the charitable sector is the subject of ongoing scrutiny and attention. Recently there were two main issues that garnered significant media attention:

  1. Two third-party reports alleging prejudicial behaviour by the CRA with respect to auditing Muslim charities and,
  2. Scrutiny of the CRA's role in regulating the charitable status of the Catholic church, in light of the discovery of unmarked graves in residential schools across Canada.
Key messages
  • The CRA is committed to engaging in meaningful dialogue with the charitable sector and ensuring that the regulatory environment supports the important work they do.
  • The CRA recognizes the critical role charities play in our society and their valuable contribution to improving the lives of Canadians.
  • The Taxpayers' Ombudsperson has opened a systemic examination to address concerns raised by certain Muslim-led charities.
  • The CRA supports the Taxpayers' Ombudsperson's examination, and will continue to work with his office to improve its service to Canadians.
  • The CRA is firmly dedicated to diversity, inclusion and anti-racism, aligning with its values of professionalism, integrity, respect and collaboration.

Global tax on large multinationals

Issue

On October 8, 2021, following extensive discussions led by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 136 jurisdictions, including Canada, agreed on major reforms to the international tax system as it applies to large multinational enterprises. The reforms aim to address tax challenges that arise due to the digitalization of the economy.

Key messages
  • The Government is committed to ensuring that multinational enterprises pay their fair share of tax on the profits they earn by doing business in Canada and around the world.
  • The new global agreement led by the OECD is a major step forward for modernizing and stabilizing the international tax system.
  • The Government will continue to work with the international community, provinces and territories, and other stakeholders to ensure that the tax system is fair and effective.

Service

Managing call volumes – Investments in contact centres

Issue

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, call volumes increased significantly. Canadians expressed concerns about long wait times and dropped calls. Temporary additional funding was allocated for contact centre (formally referred to as call centres) operations. [Redacted]

Key messages
  • For millions of Canadians, the telephone is the method of choice to interact with the CRA.
  • The CRA knows that many Canadians have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • To manage increasing call demand, the CRA increased the number of available agents, extended the hours of operation, including offering service on Saturdays, and introduced a new automated callback service.
  • Post-call surveys suggest that most callers who reach an agent are satisfied with overall phone service but many are still frustrated by long wait times.
  • The CRA will continue to seek out solutions to ensure it is providing the best service to Canadians by helping them get the tax information they need, when they need it.

Cyber and account security

Issue

Since the summer of 2020, the CRA has experienced an increase in suspicious activity on user accounts. These events have largely been driven by the CRA's key role in administering COVID-19 benefits and services, which have provided an impetus for bad actors to attempt to exploit the CRA's systems and procedures.

Key messages
  • The CRA has an in-depth defense approach to security and does not rely on any single solution. This layered approach defends CRA systems from cyber attacks.
  • To ensure Canadians can feel confident and safe using its online services, the CRA has implemented additional security measures, including multi-factor authentication.
  • However, no organization is immune to cyber incidents or fraudulent activity.
  • Taxpayers who are confirmed victims of identity fraud are not held responsible for any money paid out to scammers using their identity, and are offered credit monitoring and protection services free of charge.
  • The CRA will continue working to adjust and improve its security measures in response to an ever evolving threat environment and continuing intrusion attempts.

ePayroll

Issue

The CRA is leading this large scale project for the Government of Canada to implement a near real-time ePayroll solution in partnership with Employment and Social Development Canada and Treasury Board Secretariat – Office of the Chief Information Officer.

Key messages
  • ePayroll will modernize and streamline the way employers transmit and report payroll, employment, and demographic information in real time to the Government of Canada.
  • Using a “tell-us-once” approach for employers will reduce their administrative burden while improving the Government's ability to deliver services and benefits for Canadians.
  • The CRA is working with key stakeholders to conduct research, analysis, and prototyping to ensure that an ePayroll solution will meet the needs of businesses and other stakeholders.
  • The protection of the personal information of Canadians is a top priority for the Government of Canada and in the design and creation of the ePayroll solution.

Tax compliance

Tax evasion and aggressive non-compliance

Issue

Combatting tax evasion, aggressive tax avoidance, tax fraud, and other financial crimes is important for the protection of Canada's tax base. The CRA's compliance efforts ensure that taxpayers maintain their confidence and trust in the Canadian tax system by fairly administering Canada's tax laws.

Key messages
  • Canada has one of the highest voluntary tax compliance rates in the world, but there is still a small minority choosing not to pay their fair share.
  • Tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance deprive our country of important revenues that help fund essential programs and services.
  • The Government is committed to protecting the integrity of the Canadian tax system by combating tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance on all levels in Canada and abroad.
  • As a result of investments of over $1 billion, the CRA increased its ability to identify and target aggressive tax planning, and as of March 2021, these investments have already identified over $5 billion in additional gross federal tax revenues.
  • Data leaks like the Pandora Papers provide useful insights, and the CRA intends to analyze the data very carefully once it becomes available, and review anyone who appears to have not met their tax obligations.

Collections 2020-2022

Issue

The CRA anticipates more taxpayers will have a tax debt because of the pandemic. In the initial months of the pandemic, the CRA sought to lessen financial pressures on taxpayers by deferring tax obligations for individuals and businesses, and reducing its tax compliance and collections activities. The CRA's approach to collections is focussed on the unique circumstances of each taxpayer and a 'help first' stance.

Key messages
  • The health and safety of all Canadians must continue to be our primary concern as we progress through this pandemic.
  • Each taxpayer's circumstances are unique and the CRA will take that into account in its decision-making process.
  • In the context of the ongoing pandemic, payment arrangement parameters have been expanded to give Canadians more time and flexibility to repay based on their ability to pay.
  • Individuals who cannot make a payment in full are advised to contact the CRA to make a payment arrangement that's right for them.
  • The CRA continues to crack down on repeated or high-dollar non-compliance activities.
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