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Specific to the Minister of National Revenue

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The Canada Revenue Agency Act outlines the powers, duties, and functions of the Minister of National Revenue, which extend to and include all matters over which Parliament has jurisdiction relating to:

  • Duties of excise
  • Stamp duties and the preparation and issue of stamps and stamped paper, except postage stamps, and the Excise Tax Act (ETA), except as therein otherwise provided
  • Internal taxes, unless otherwise provided, including income taxes
  • The collection of debts due to Her Majesty under Part V.1 of the Customs Act
  • Such other subjects as may be assigned to the minister by Parliament or the Governor in Council


The minister may authorize the commissioner or any other person employed or engaged by the Agency or who occupies a position of responsibility in the Agency, to exercise or perform on the minister's behalf any power, duty or function of the minister under any Act of Parliament or of a province.

Delegations provide the legal framework under which officers of the CRA can exercise 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 has a number of powers under the Canada Revenue Agency Act, Income Tax Act (ITA), ETA, Access to Information Act, and the Privacy 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 minister is empowered by the Financial Administration Act (FAA) to delegate financial authorities, in order to provide payment and spending authorities to selected CRA positions. While a change in minister does not nullify existing authorities, a new minister is required to approve delegation documents within 90 days of his or her appointment.

The minister may delegate 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 and title changes. In most cases, program legislation provides the commissioner with the legal authority to sign delegation instruments.

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, administering the access to information and privacy program, 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 minister may delegate powers and duties to other organizations' officials as is the case for the administration of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) by Revenu Québec in the province of Quebec. Under the GST Agreement, the Minister of Revenu Québec, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Revenu Québec, or a person designated to act in his or her place may exercise the powers and perform the duties of the Minister of National Revenue.

CRA ministerial services and operations

The Ministerial Service and Operations Directorate (MSOD) [A link to a secure server was removed], Public Affairs Branch, offers direct support to the minister. It provides advisory services to the minister and is responsible for parliamentary and cabinet affairs, ministerial events and correspondence, media relations, Agency-wide coordination of issues management, as well as social media communications.

Ministers are often 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, MSOD, which serves as the liaison office both between the CRA and Parliament, and the CRA and Cabinet.

When Parliament is sitting, ministerial briefings are typically held weekly with the commissioner and key Agency officials; as the minister is accountable to Parliament for the operation of the CRA and matters relating to the collection of taxes and duties (set out in the ITA, ETA, and the Excise Act). 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.


The minister 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' Ombudsperson.

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 ITA and the ETA. 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. The minister and exempt staff, current and former Crown employees, persons under contract with the Crown, and persons occupying a position of responsibility in the service of the Crown are bound by these provisions.

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.

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