Annual Report to Parliament 2014-2015

Program: Taxpayer and Business Assistance

As the administrator of Canada's self-assessment tax system, the CRA has to provide taxpayers with accurate and timely information so they can comply with Canada's tax laws. To achieve this, we make sure our website contains general information regarding our programs. We also post videos and webinars and interact with Canadians on social media. When taxpayers need more help, we offer expertise and guidance through our telephone services and our rulings and interpretation services. We also administer and monitor charities and registered plans to make sure they are managed in ccordance with existing legislation.

157M

Our website received over 157 million visits

Subprogram descriptions

Taxpayer Services – Enquiries and Information Products
This program develops and maintains information services and products to help taxpayers voluntarily comply with Canada's tax laws. We provide taxpayers with access to timely and accurate responses to their telephone and written tax enquiries and provide tax information on our website, as well as other targeted information products and services.
Registered Plans
This program is responsible for all activities related to the provisions of the Income Tax Act for deferred income and savings plans. We provide information through our webpages, outreach activities, and by assisting taxpayers through our telephone enquiries line, and written communications. We register, audit, and approve contributions to these plans to safeguard compliance.
Charities – Public Safety and Anti-Terrorism
This program protects the integrity of the registration system for charities under Canada's Income Tax Act by screening applications and monitoring registered charities for the risk of terrorist involvement.
Policy, Rulings, and Interpretations
This program is responsible for the official CRA positions on interpreting the laws which the CRA administers. We clarify tax issues for taxpayers, registrants, and tax intermediaries by explaining how legislation applies to their specific situations, and we inform them on tax and CPP / EI matters by issuing rulings, interpretations, and technical publications. We provide early certainty to taxpayers through binding rulings and non-binding interpretations.
Charities
This program administers the national registration program for charities, registered Canadian amateur athletic associations, and registered national arts service organizations. We are responsible for all types of compliance activities, including registration, communications and outreach, processing and examination, audit and enforcement, policy, and technical guidance.

Taxpayer Services – Enquiries and Information Products

An essential part of the CRA's commitment to service excellence is providing clear, timely, and accurate information to make it easier for taxpayers to comply with their tax obligations and receive their benefits. We continuously update and improve our information services so taxpayers can get the information they need, when and how they need it.

The Agency's commitment to continuously improving information services matches the Government of Canada's information and service priorities, including those being spearheaded by Shared Services Canada to transform the federal government's information technology infrastructure. These priorities are to provide modern, reliable, and secure services with reduced operating costs; to improve service to Canadians; and to increase security of information. The CRA is working closely with Shared Services to institute this transformation and, as part of the process, is improving services for taxpayers delivered on the web, by telephone, and through social media.

Web renewal

The Web Renewal Initiative is a government-wide project to develop Canada.caiii, a single, user-centric website for the Government of Canada. The Privy Council Office and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat lead the project. All federal institutions are participating in the migration and, by December 31, 2016, approximately 1,500 individual websites will have moved to Canada.caiii. The CRA is participating in working groups and is playing a lead role, including helping to develop the governance and publishing models, user-experience testing, information architecture, and technical requirements for Canada.caiii.

Since creating the "Taxes" landing page in December 2013, the Agency has:  

Contact centre transformation

In 2014-2015, the CRA experienced a significant increase in call volumes thereby affecting caller accessibility targets. Various events contributed to the increase in calls, including the extension of the filing season, federal tax benefit changes, new hours of service, changes to the Ontario Trillium benefit, and the new online mail service.

The contact centre transformation initiative now underway in cooperation with Shared Services Canada will improve our capacity to respond to high volumes of telephone enquiries. The CRA was identified as a priority partner for this initiative because of the scale and importance of our contact centre activities and the size and complexity of our telephony infrastructure. The Agency fully supports modernizing call centres across all government departments and agencies to expand beyond voice-based services. We have already taken several steps in this direction, partly in response to consultations with taxpayers on reducing red tape.

These steps include streamlining our business interactive voice response system to make it easier for callers to connect with an agent; encouraging people to use Smartlinks to contact a CRA agent via our website for more information or help with navigating through the website; requiring telephone service agents to give callers their agent ID to increase accountability; and, in some cases, allowing telephone service agents to transfer a credit within a business's account upon request.

Over the long term, the contact centre transformation will enhance telephone services for taxpayers by giving the CRA access to new and improved functions. In April 2014, the CRA established a project team to oversee and coordinate the migration of the existing 79 CRA contact centres, a large undertaking involving every region and most branches.

Social media

The CRA's Twitter following has grown year by year, reaching over 57,000 in 2014-2015. We use Twitter as another way to share the content on our website regarding the programs and services we provide. It also allows us to interact with stakeholders. For example, we used social media tools to engage with small businesses during our red tape reduction consultations in fall 2014. In addition, the CRA developed a number of Web-based videos, including a three-part series to assist and educate taxpayers who might be undergoing an audit.

Other services

The CRA continues to build partnerships with community organizations to deliver its Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP), and worked with more than 2,000 organizations in 2014-2015. New initiatives included releasing two Web videos, CVITP: Need a Hand and CVITP: Lend a Hand; developing CVITP posters in nine languages other than English and French; launching a Web portal to enable organizations and volunteers to register online; and giving better training and support for first-time community organizations who want to host a clinic.

Key results

Registered Plans

Registered plans are an important financial tool for many Canadians who are looking to secure income for the future, particularly for their retirement years. The CRA is responsible for registering and monitoring plans and for approving the deductibility of employer contributions to defined benefit pension plans. The most recent data from Statistics Canada indicates the Registered Plans program oversees more than $2.83 trillion in private pension plan assets. It also oversees $65.9 billion in tax-free savings accounts, $35.9 billion in registered education savings plans, and almost $1 billion in registered disability savings plan grants, bonds, and contributions.

In 2014-2015, the Agency better supported plan administrators and their financial intermediaries by working with partner stakeholders to harmonize filing dates for pooled registered pension plans (PRPPs) annual information returns to reduce the burden on plan administrators. Updates to CRA's IT systems were made to improve the ability to capture and use data associated with registered plans, and enable the Agency to better assess compliance risk. The IT upgrades include auto-populating certain data fields for more efficient compliance analysis and capturing the data from annual information returns for PRPPs.

Key results

Policy, Rulings, and Interpretations

The CRA plays an essential role in making sure Canadian taxpayers, businesses, and third parties have access to up-to-date, accurate, technical information and support. This is critically important when dealing with changes to laws affecting reporting requirements.

One of the most far-reaching and complex changes in 2014-2015 was the implementation of an agreement between the governments of Canada and the United States to improve international tax compliance through better reporting of financial account information (FATCA). Beginning in 2015, Canadian financial institutions have to give the CRA information of account holders who are United States citizens or residents. To assist financial institutions and respect privacy laws, the CRA became the intermediary, receiving the information and relaying it to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rather than having Canadian financial institutions report directly to the IRS.

During 2014-2015, the CRA completed a number of significant steps in implementing this agreement. Key steps included making sure financial institutions had all of the information they need to meet their reporting obligations, putting in place the information return financial institutions will use, and setting up the IT systems needed to allow the electronic exchange of information with the IRS.

Because it is important to give taxpayers information so they understand their tax obligations, the CRA provides technical publications and issues rulings. Taxpayers, tax professionals, industry associations, and staff who need access to technical tax information all widely use the technical publications. They can help clarify tax matters, prevent errors and, in some cases, eliminate the need for new rulings or interpretations.

Several of the legislative amendments made in 2014-2015, such as the non-refundable family tax cut credit, prompted updates to the Agency's technical publications.

Key results

Charities

The federal government's 2014 budget earmarked $23 million for the CRA to modernize its IT systems over the next five years, allowing it to provide new digital services to charities. In 2014-2015, the Agency undertook a planning exercise which included identifying high-level business requirements, conducting a feasibility study, developing a project plan, developing an implementation strategy, and staffing. The three main deliverables for this project are:

Modernizing the CRA's IT systems for charities will benefit both the charitable sector and the public. It will reduce the administrative burden on charities by giving them more ways to file, which should then make it easier for them to meet their obligations. It will also give the public more complete and accurate information on charities, allowing donors to make better-informed decisions on which charities to support.

Key results

Budgetary financial information (dollars)
Program/
Subprogram
2014-15
Main Estimates
2014-15
Total Authorities
2014-15
Planned1
2014-15
Actual2
2014-15
Difference
(Planned minus Actual)
Taxpayer and Business Assistance 350,017,682 307,044,650 350,905,225 292,809,925 58,095,300
Taxpayer Services – Enquiries and Information Products no data no data 152,960,455 174,319,335 (21,358,880)
Registered Plans no data no data 16,250,754 17,411,607 (1,160,853)
Charities no data no data 29,154,434 27,940,712 1,213,722
Policy, Rulings, and Interpretations no data no data 148,030,914 68,436,701 79,594,2133
Charities – Public Safety and
Anti-Terrorism
no data no data 4,508,668 4,701,570 (192,902)
Human resources (full-time equivalent)
Program/
Subprogram
2014-15
Planned
2014-15
Actual
2014-15
Difference
(Planned minus Actual)
Taxpayer and Business Assistance 3,676 3,948 (272)
Taxpayer Services – Enquiries and Information Products 2,111 2,478 (367)
Registered Plans 178 157 21
Charities 333 265 68
Policy, Rulings, and Interpretations 1,013 1,007 6
Charities – Public Safety and
Anti-Terrorism
41 41 no data

Performance measurement

Program
Taxpayer and Business Assistance
Expected Result   Performance Indicator Target Actual Result
Taxpayers and businesses have access to the information and services they require to voluntarily comply with tax laws Percentage of service standard targets the CRA met or mostly met relating to individual and business enquiries4 100% 85.7%5
Compliance with applicable legislation by organizations and businesses administering or producing registered plans, charities, and excise dutiable-products is improved  Percentage of charities, registered plans, and commodity audits completed compared to planned 100% 97.5%
Subprogram
Taxpayer Services – Enquiries and Information Products
Expected Result   Performance Indicator Target Actual Result
Individual taxpayers have access to timely and accurate responses to their tax enquiries   Caller accessibility – percentage of individual callers who succeed in reaching the CRA telephone service (tax filing season) 85% 79%6
no data Caller accessibility –percentage of individual callers who succeed in reaching the CRA telephone service (non-tax filing season) 80% 79%
no data Percentage of accurately updated internal reference materials for taxpayer services agents (individual) 100% 100%
Businesses have access to timely and accurate responses to their tax enquiries   Caller accessibility – percentage of business callers who succeed in reaching the CRA telephone service 85% 84%
no data Percentage of accurately updated internal reference materials for taxpayer services agents (business) 100% 100%
Subprogram
Registered Plans
Expected Result   Performance Indicator Target Actual Result
Registered plan administrators and their agents receive timely service in response to applications  Percentage of registered plan applications reviewed within the established timeframes (180 days) 85% 81%
Non-compliance by registered plan administrators and their agents with legislation and regulations pertaining to registered plans is detected and addressed  Percentage of registered plan audits completed compared to planned 100% 106%
Subprogram
Policy, Rulings, and Interpretations
Expected Result   Performance Indicator Target Actual Result
Taxpayers and businesses receive timely rulings and interpretations under the Income Tax Act, Excise Tax Act, and various other federal legislation  Percentage of service standards targets the CRA met or mostly met relating to the timeliness of service delivery for income tax and GST/HST rulings and interpretations4 100% 100%
Non-compliance with the Excise Act and the Excise Act, 2001 with respect to dutiable products is detected and addressed   Percentage of planned excise regulatory reviews and excise compliance activities the CRA completed 100% 102%
Subprogram
Charities
Expected Result   Performance Indicator Target Actual Result
Service to registered charities and applicants for charitable status is enhanced Charities – responding to telephone enquiries in agent queue within two minutes 80% 76.2%7

 
Percentage of charitable registration applications the CRA reviewed and responded to within established timeframes (2 months for simple and 6 months for regular applications)  80% 93%
Compliance in the charitable sector is improved Percentage of charities the CRA audited because they are known to be participating in gifting tax shelters 100% 100%
no data Percentage of charities to file an annual information return on time 80% 87%

Table Notes

1. Planned spending excludes severance payments, parental benefits, vacation credits, the one-time transition payment for implementing the pay-in-arrears model, and the carry-forward of unused funds from 2013-2014 under the CRA's two-year spending authority. This funding is received during the fiscal year and is included only in actual spending.

2. Modified cash basis, based on Parliamentary appropriations used. See Parliamentary appropriations for an explanation of how actual spending relates to results in the CRA Financial Statements – Agency Activities.

3. Decrease primarily due to lower than planned statutory payments related to the Canada/US softwood lumber agreement.

4. Details on our service standards are in Appendix B.

5. Volume of written enquiries increased, and training requirements diverted resources from answering enquiries.

6. The target was not met in 2014-2015 due primarily to the extension of the filing season, the new hours of service, and various initiatives which significantly increased calls and average call length.

7. An increase in the volume of calls and the need to train additional resources led to lower results.

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