Minister's Underground Economy Advisory Committee meeting -November 22, 2016 - Record of Discussion

 

1. Introductory comments

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue welcomed participants and emphasized the importance of partnerships in combatting the underground economy (UE). The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) also gave some opening remarks.

 

2. CRA underground economy update

The CRA presented a social marketing update on the work that has been done since the last Advisory Committee meeting. It also updated the committee on various UE initiatives and addressed some of the issues raised at the last meeting.

Advisory Committee members were supportive of the work that has been done so far. For example, the communication products on the CRA’s UE partner’s webpage were well-received (posters and twitter cards). They also had the following comments:

   • Communicate the consequences of work being done “under the table”

   • Tailor communication products and programs, such as the Liaison Officer Assistance Request service, to the needs of specific industries and organizations

 

3. Advisory Committee member update

The Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) of Canada presented the December issue of CPA Magazine containing four articles and a column on the underground economy. It was suggested that feedback on the articles be shared with the Advisory Committee.

The Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) gave an update on its new website, which incorporates the Get it in Writing! messaging. The CHBA told members that it will be introducing a social media campaign in February 2017.

English:  http://www.chba.ca/CHBA/CHBA/Renovating/Renovating.aspx

French:  http://www.chba.ca/CHBAFR/CHBAFR/Renovating/Renovating.aspx

 

4. Non-Filer Program – Impact on the UE

The CRA gave a presentation on the Non-Filer Program and asked members how to improve the program. They offered the following suggestions:

   • Explore potential synergy between business-to-business reporting and the existing Contract Payment Reporting System (CPRS)

   • Keep Canadians informed of CRA results (for example, non-filer results through the CPRS and compliance results from the T1135 Foreign Income Verification Statement)

   • Consider the needs of recent immigrants when developing educational tools, through partnerships with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

 

5. How Canada compares

The CRA presented publicly available information on the compliance strategies and social marketing initiatives of four peer tax administrations, in order to start a discussion with members on where the CRA should focus its efforts when developing the next UE Strategy. Although there will be other discussions on this topic, some of the initial input included:

   • Work with apprenticeship programs to promote financial literacy and early compliance

   • Develop positive messaging associated with paying taxes

   • Consider using stronger language to change behaviour

   • Target messaging around both domestic and international compliance efforts

   • Consider using communication materials in languages other than French and English

   • Consider using systems like sales recording modules as a deterrent for those who are non-compliant

 

6. Leads

The CRA presented highlights of the initiatives under way to improve the Informant Leads Program and the quality of leads. Members gave input on how to improve the webpages:

   • Replace the word “informant,” which has negative connotations

   • Include more information on confidentiality protection for people providing leads

   • Place the Offshore Tax Informant Program information on a separate page

   • Consider what motivates people to provide a lead, and consider using incentives for leads

 

7. Closing remarks

The Parliamentary Secretary reiterated his gratitude to Advisory Committee members for their contributions and summarized some of the progress made to date. He also emphasized the importance of communications and simplifying messages. The CRA appreciates the strong partnerships it has developed with Advisory Committee members and is looking forward to their continued support with the development of the next UE Strategy.

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