Summary of the Corporate Business Plan 2014-2015 to 2016-2017

Overview of the CRA's strategic priorities

Introduction

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) delivers tax and benefits administration with integrity and security. We collect tax to finance public programs and services. Last year, we processed $436 billion in taxes and duties and issued $22 billion in benefit and credit payments. Our work touches the lives of Canada's 29 million individual and corporate taxpayers. For that reason, three pillars – integrity, service, and compliance – are at the heart of our organization.

To achieve our strategic objectives, we will focus on three pillars of effective tax administration: integrity, service, and compliance. This summary of the corporate business plan sets out our plan to deliver the highest levels of integrity and security, achieve excellence and continual improvement in service to Canadians, including reducing red tape.

The road ahead

We are proud to offer unparalleled service and value to Canadians and to government. Our goal is to continue to be one of the best tax and benefit administrations in the world. Achieving this goal means keeping pace with the trends that are shaping our environment. Our future is one where:

  • compliance with tax laws is recognized as good citizenship and an integral element of corporate responsibility
  • individuals and businesses find it simple and quick to comply
  • most Canadians deal with their tax matters online, when and how they choose
  • sophisticated analytics allow us to take prompt and decisive action on non-compliance

The CRA has identified the long-term strategic directions it must follow to succeed. We call this Vision 2020 and have provided more information on page 80. Below are some of the short and medium term actions the CRA will take to advance excellence in integrity, service, and compliance.

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Integrity and security

The vast majority of Canadians comply voluntarily with Canada's tax laws. In 2012–2013, 92% of Canadians filed their taxes on time and 95% paid their reported taxes in full. Paying taxes contributes to Canada's social and economic well-being. We place great value on the high rate of voluntary compliance and are dedicated to maintaining and improving it.

We are committed to safeguarding the trust Canadians place in our organization, and to meeting their expectations that we have the right checks and balances in place to secure the information entrusted to us.

The CRA is committed to fostering responsible employee conduct, and we make sure employees know they are fully accountable for their actions. We recently completed a full review and revision of our Conflict of Interest Policy, and the revised policy will come into effect in March 2014.

Our priority initiatives to ensure the highest level of integrity and security are:

  • implementing the new Conflict of Interest Policy to ensure clarity and rigour around the prevention, identification, disclosure, and management of conflicts of interest; to update and expand post-employment provisions; and to increase employee awareness of our high standards and expectations.
  • advancing our identity and access management initiative for the purpose of tightening controls over employee access to sensitive CRA information.
  • strengthening the guidance, training, and tools we provide to our employees. We have developed an online decision-making guide that will shortly be released to staff. This new guide will strengthen responsible, integrity-based decision making and accountability across the CRA.
  • strengthening our personnel screening measures. We are introducing a new level of security screening which requires more verifications for individuals holding or applying to positions identified as requiring a high degree of public trust.
  • enhancing our approach to managing breaches of integrity and security. We take all allegations of employee misconduct seriously, and we are committed to ensuring that employees are accountable for their actions.

Protecting privacy and confidentiality rights is central to the integrity of the CRA. Canadians trust that their information is only accessed or disclosed on a need-to-know basis for authorized purposes, and that it is handled with the utmost regard for security. Our priority initiatives to ensure we keep information safe are:

  • drawing on the leadership of our Chief Privacy Officer who has a broad mandate for privacy oversight at the CRA and implementing further measures to make sure privacy accountabilities, responsibilities, and activities are reinforced and understood across the CRA.
  • using technology to tighten controls over employee access to sensitive information and making sure taxpayer information is accessed and used only for its intended purpose.
  • making sure our operational procedures are transparent, and that they are supported by strong internal controls to limit opportunity for employee misconduct.

Reducing Red Tape

During Red Tape Reduction consultations with small businesses and their representatives, we learned what improvements were needed to make it easier for them to comply with tax filing requirements. Based on that feedback, the CRA developed 12 action plans to reduce or eliminate the compliance burden. Five of these focus on improving our interactions with small businesses, including:

"Timely information availability and clarity"

The CRA is improving ease of access to information on the CRA website, and is simplifying some of the key guides and forms.

"Effective communication to satisfy taxpayer requirements"

Our taxpayer service agents now provide their names and ID numbers when they greet callers, and have better tools to access the information they need to respond to caller questions. We are also streamlining our Interactive Voice Response system to make it easier for business callers to connect with an agent.

"Timeliness of decisions related to rulings"

We have committed to providing timely responses to written requests for GST/HST rulings and interpretations, and will meet the published service standard of responding within 45 working days, excluding precedent and/or policy-setting rulings and interpretations.

"Reporting requirements"

We will identify opportunities to simplify and reduce reporting obligations, such as combining reporting for different programs or eliminating the need to report specific data.

"Auditors knowledge, training and professionalism"

We will improve our interactions with small businesses when conducting audits by providing required training to help auditors become more sensitive to the needs and realities of small businesses.

Service

With the right tools and information, most Canadians will comply with tax laws. Making it easy for taxpayers to comply means reducing burden and red tape and providing easy access to clear, accurate information, and timely services. Online services are essential, particularly for businesses and representatives looking for ways to quickly and easily manage their tax affairs. Making it easy to comply also means providing alternatives to e-services like telephone services and paper copies of publications, and helping businesses get it right from the start.

Many of our transaction services are now available online. We continue to expand the range of these services as well as the account-specific information available to taxpayers and representatives. Our priority initiatives for providing convenient, secure online services are:

  • Increase the number of secure online services available in My Account, My Business Account, and Represent a Client, including allowing taxpayers and benefit recipients to send us documents and receive correspondence electronically.
  • Use new technologies, including mobile devices, to expand the ways taxpayers can interact with us online.

Our move to a more tailored approach to service delivery will focus not just on meeting taxpayers' needs and preferences, but also on identifying and addressing taxpayer behaviour that could lead to non-compliance. Our priority initiatives for providing tailored help for those who need it are:

  • providing more direct assistance and information to businesses at key points in their life cycle, for example, at business start-up and when employees are first hired.
  • making sure new claimants have the right support when they apply for Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) investment tax credits, including in-person support, web-based information videos, and an online self-assessment and learning tool.
  • exploring ways to better service seniors, new Canadians, and first-time filers.

The CRA recognizes that it is sometimes more effective and efficient to work with partners like tax preparers, software developers, and financial institutions to achieve our strategic objectives. Our priority initiatives for helping others help Canadians include:

  • strengthening partnerships with the community organizations to offer the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). During the 2013 filing season, volunteers helped fill out 565,621 returns for fellow Canadians as part of this program.
  • continuing to work with tax preparers to promote good compliance practices and strengthen our support for the services they provide to their clients. About 70% of the Small Medium Enterprises that file T1 returns get help from tax preparers. They are important partners in sustaining compliance.

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Compliance

95% of Canadians pay their reported tax as required by Canada's tax laws. A small percentage of taxpayers do not. Our approach is to address non-compliance as early as possible with the least intrusive involvement. However, as a responsible administrator, we must actively enforce compliance in cases where taxpayers, through neglect, avoidance, or fraud, do not meet these obligations.

Our priority initiatives for targeted and connected compliance are:

  • conducting compliance campaigns based on advanced analytics. Technology now allows us to use advanced predictive analytics to more precisely and rapidly address non-compliance. We continue to expand the use of our predictive models to better understand taxpayer decisions and actions with respect to tax debt.
  • using technology to predict employer non-compliance and address it early through the most effective and efficient tool. In Canada, we rely on the collaboration of 1.6 million businesses and employers to deduct their employees source deductions and remit the payroll deductions to us throughout the year.
  • strengthening our support to tax practitioners for the services they provide to their clients.
  • using new measures to counter the use of electronic suppression of sales software. This software selectively deletes or changes sales transactions from a business' point-of-sale system without leaving a record of those changes.

The CRA continues to work with Canadian and international partners to share information and best practices. Our priority initiatives for combatting international tax evasion are:

  • establishing a program to reward individuals who provide information about major international tax non-compliance.
  • requiring banks and other financial intermediaries to report international electronic funds transfers of $10,000 or more, starting in 2015.
  • requiring Canadian taxpayers with foreign income or properties to give us more detailed information.

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