Trust Accounts Examination

Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) summary - Business Compliance Directorate, Collections and Verification Branch

Overview & PIA Initiation

Government institution

Canada Revenue Agency

Government official responsible for the PIA

Michael Snaauw,
Assistant Commissioner
Collections and Verification Branch

Head of the government institution or Delegate for section 10 of the Privacy Act

Marie-Claude Juneau
ATIP Coordinator

Name of program or activity of the government institution

Returns Compliance

Summary of the project / initiative / change:

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) jointly administer the Canada Pension Plan and the Employment Insurance Act.

Under the Canada Pension Plan and the Employment Insurance Act, the CRA is responsible for determining:

  •  whether or not an individual's employment is pensionable under the Canada Pension Plan and/or insurable under the Employment Insurance Act;
  •  the amount of pensionable and/or insurable earnings;
  •  whether or not Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions and employment insurance (EI) premiums are payable;
  •  how many hours an insured person has in insurable employment;
  •  how long an employment lasts, including the dates on which the employment began and ended;
  •  the amount of CPP contributions and/or EI premiums payable;
  •  who is the employer;
  •  whether or not employers are considered to be associated for the purposes of the Employment Insurance Act; and
  •  the refund amount.

The CRA is also responsible for ensuring that CPP contributions and EI premiums are deducted, remitted, and reported as required by legislation.

The objective of the Trust Accounts Examination (TAE) is to maintain the integrity of the tax system with respect to the reporting of employment income and taxable benefits, the withholding and remitting of payroll related amounts, and the proper characterization of workers, through a combination of taxpayer education and responsible enforcement. The program promotes employer awareness and understanding of tax laws and obligations as provided in the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act, the Canada Pension Plan, the Employment Insurance Act, and their respective regulations, to increase and enhance voluntary compliance.

Scope of the Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA).

The scope of this PIA is the CRA’s examination of employers' books and records to ensure proper deducting, remitting and reporting of income tax (federal and provincial), GST/HST taxes, CPP, EI, employer-provided benefits, and unreported income. The program is delivered in all Tax Services Offices (TSO) across Canada. In the province of Québec, provincial tax and CPP are not examined since these are administered by Revenu Québec.

Description of the class of record and personal information bank

Standard or institution specific class of record:
Employer and GST/HST Compliance (CRA CVB 188)

Standard or institution specific personal information bank:
Trust Accounts Compliance (CRA PPU 120)

Legal authority for program or activity

Section 231.1 of the Income Tax Act; section 288 of the Excise Tax Act; section 88 of the Employment Insurance Act; section 25 of the Canada Pension Plan Act; and section 70 of the Air Travellers Security Charge Act provide legal authority to review or examine the books and records of businesses, including payroll accounts.

Sections 152 and 227 of the Income Tax Act; section 296 of the Excise Tax Act; section 85 of the Employment Insurance Act; section 22 of the Canada Pension Plan Act; and section 39 of the Air Travellers Security Charge Act, provide legal authority to assess deficiencies when applicable. 

Authority to enter premises

  • Paragraph 231.1 (2) of the ITA provides legal authority to enter premises.
  • Paragraph 231 (1) of the ITA provides legal authority to inspect, audit, or examine taxpayer’s books, records and documents.
  • Paragraph 231.5(1) of the ITA provides legal authority to make copies of documents.

Risk identification and categorization

A) Type of program or activity

Compliance / Regulatory investigations and enforcement    

Level of risk to privacy: 3

Details: Personal information is used to review the books and records of businesses to ensure that they are compliant with filing, reporting and withholding requirements, and to assess deficiencies when applicable. In addition, information is used to review payroll, GST/HST accounts with respect to taxable benefits, and the proper characterization of workers.

B) Type of personal information involved and context

Social Insurance Number, medical, financial or other sensitive personal information and/or the context surrounding the personal information is sensitive. Personal information of minors or incompetent individuals or involving a representative acting on behalf of the individual.

Level of risk to privacy: 3

Details: Trust Accounts Examinations require the review of business books and documents including any relevant tax slips issued to employees. The review of these records means that the CRA employee would have access to social insurance numbers and other financial information. This is necessary to properly execute the program mandate.

C) Program or activity partners and private sector involvement

With other or a combination of federal/ provincial and/or municipal government(s)

Level of risk to privacy: 3

Details: The program may share personal information with other CRA programs for collection of outstanding balances, audit activities or to report suspected activities.

Information regarding payroll deductions may be shared with Revenu Québec. More details are provided in the Memorandum of Understanding (signed on November 11, 2009) between the Canada Revenue Agency and revenue Québec.

Although ESDC and CRA jointly administer CPP and EI (CRA has an enforcement role), the Trust Accounts Examination program does not directly share information with ESDC.

Paper copies containing personal information are sent to the Records Management and Logistics Section (FAB). However, CRA may also use the service of Iron Mountain (formerly known as Recall) to store paper copies containing personal information.

D) Duration of the program or activity

Long-term program

Level of risk to privacy: 3

Details: This program does not have an end date.

E) Program population

The program affects certain individuals for external administrative purposes.

Level of risk to privacy: 3

Details: The targeted population for Payroll examinations consists of employers, trustees, and payers responsible for deducting Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions, Employment Insurance (EI) premiums and income tax from remuneration or other types of income (T4 reporting).

The targeted population for GST/HST examinations consists of GST/HST registrants in all provinces except Quebec.

The targeted population for the Air Travellers Security Charge (ATSC) consists of designated air carriers required to charge the ATSC.

F) Technology & privacy

Does the new or modified program or activity involve the implementation of a new electronic system, software or application program including collaborative software (or groupware) that is implemented to support the program or activity in terms of the creation, collection or handling of personal information?

Risk to privacy: No

Does the new or modified program or activity require any modifications to IT legacy systems and/or services?

Risk to privacy: No

The new or modified program or activity involves the implementation of one or more of the following technologies:

Enhanced identification methods - this includes biometric technology (i.e. facial recognition, gait analysis, iris scan, fingerprint analysis, voice print, radio frequency identification (RFID), etc...) as well as easy pass technology, new identification cards including magnetic stripe cards, "smart cards" (i.e. identification cards that are embedded with either an antenna or a contact pad that is connected to a microprocessor and a memory chip or only a memory chip with non-programmable logic).

Risk to privacy: No

Details: N/A

Use of Surveillance - this includes surveillance technologies such as audio/video recording devices, thermal imaging, recognition devices , RFID, surreptitious surveillance / interception, computer aided monitoring including audit trails, satellite surveillance etc.

Risk to privacy: No

Details: The programs do not involve the use of the surveillance on individuals associated with withholding, remitting, reporting, and filing obligations related to payroll.

However, to support the requirements specified in the acts and regulations, such as section 241 of the Income Tax Act, Access to Information and Privacy Acts, all accesses to identifiable taxpayer information (create, view, modify, delete), will be logged and monitored by the use of the National Audit Trail System (NATS) to prevent, detect, and deter unauthorized access to taxpayer information. This allows the Agency to proactively monitor accesses and identify irregular activity and/or system misuses.

The information is to verify that only an authorized user accesses personal information and to ensure that access can be linked to specific individuals to support the investigation of suspected or alleged misuse.  This information is already described in the standard personal information bank Electronic Network Monitoring Logs PSU 905.

Use of automated personal information analysis, personal information matching and knowledge discovery techniques - for the purposes of the Directive on PIA, government institutions are to identify those activities that involve the use of automated technology to analyze, create, compare, identify or extract personal information elements. Such activities would include personal information matching, record linkage, personal information mining, personal information comparison, knowledge discovery, information filtering or analysis. Such activities involve some form of artificial intelligence and/or machine learning to uncover knowledge (intelligence), trends/patterns or to predict behavior.

Risk to privacy: Yes

Details: The Workload Development Business Intelligence Section (WDBIS) supports workload development through the coordination of analytics, research and trends analysis report requests for all business compliance program workloads.

G) Personal information transmission

The personal information is transmitted using wireless technologies. 

Level of risk to privacy: 4

Details: Trust Accounts Examination officers use a laptop computer and may and possibly a Universal Serial Bus (USB) key when on-site at an employer’s location. The use of laptops complies with the Security for the Computing Environment Policy with Encryption and access control.

Access to the Agency network from remote locations must be done through the approved Information Technology Branch (ITB) solution – Secure Remote Access (SRA) – or a secure method supported by a Threat and Risk Assessment (TRA) approved by the Information Security Division, Security and Internal Affairs Directorate (SIAD), and the IT Security and Continuity Division, ITB.

H) Risk impact to the individual or employee

Details: If the personal information is compromised, it has the potential to cause financial harm and embarrassment to the affected individual or employee. The affected individual or employee may also become a victim of identity theft, and his/her information may be used without his/her knowledge or consent.

I) Risk impact to the institution

Details: Should this information be accidentally or deliberately disclosed or compromised, it could reasonably be expected to cause the CRA embarrassment, loss of credibility and trust with the public.

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