Service Standards 2018-2019

From Canada Revenue Agency

Service standards publicly state the level of performance that citizens can reasonably expect to encounter under normal circumstances. The Canada Revenue Agency has developed these standards as part of its ongoing commitment to quality client service.

Tax returns, benefits, and claims 

Tax returns, benefits, and claims

Tax returns

Individual income tax returns (T1) – digital

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for processing T1 individual income tax returns received electronically from individuals. This service standard was modified in 2018-2019.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to issue your notice of assessment within two weeks of receiving your digital individual income tax returnFootnote 1 .
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 95% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018 filing seasonFootnote 2, 97% of T1 individual income tax returns received electronically were processed within this standard.

Individual income tax returns (T1) – paper

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for processing paper T1 individual income tax returns from individuals. This service standard was modified in 2018-2019.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to issue your notice of assessment within eight weeks of receiving your paper individual income tax returnFootnote 1.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 95% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018 filing seasonFootnote 2, 83% of paper T1 individual income tax returns were processed within this standard. The T1 processing service standard was changed with the separation of paper and digital to provide greater transparency to the taxpayer.

Corporation income tax returns (T2) – digital

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for assessing T2 corporation income tax returns filed electronically from businesses and incorporated self-employed individuals. This service standard was modified in 2018-2019.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to issue your notice of assessment within six weeks of receiving your digital corporation income tax return.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 95% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 96% of T2 corporation income tax returns filed electronically were processed within this standard.

Corporation income tax returns (T2) – paper

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for assessing paper T2 corporation income tax returns from businesses and incorporated self-employed individuals. This service standard was modified in 2018-2019.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to issue your notice of assessment within sixteen weeks of receiving your paper corporation income tax return.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 95% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 93% of T2 corporation income tax returns filed on paper were processed within this standard.

GST/HST returns – digital

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for processing GST/HST returns filed electronically from businesses and self-employed individualsFootnote 3. This service standard was modified in 2018-2019.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to issue your notice of assessment, if applicable, within four weeks of receiving your digital GST/HST return.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 95% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 96% of GST/HST returns filed electronically were processed within this standard.

GST/HST returns – paper

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for processing paper GST/HST returns from businesses and self-employed individualsFootnote 3. This service standard was modified in 2018-2019.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to issue your notice of assessment, if applicable, within eight weeks of receiving your paper GST/HST return.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 95% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 97% of paper GST/HST returns were processed within this standard.

T3 trust returns

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for processing T3 trust returns from trust recipients. A T3 income tax return is a form completed by a trustee to assess the tax liability of a trust. A T3 return is filed as both an income tax return (which calculates tax liability) and an information return (which reports amounts allocated and designated to beneficiaries). Our goal is to process T3 trust returns within seventeen weeks, which includes assessing the T3 return and mailing a notice of assessment and refund, if applicable. 
  • Our standard: Our goal is to issue your notice of assessment within seventeen weeks of receiving your trust return.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 95% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 91% of T3 trust returns were processed within this standard.

T1 adjustment requests – digital

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for responding to digital adjustment requests (T1) from individuals or their representatives. Our standard applies to straightforward taxpayer-requested adjustments only. Some change requests are considered complex and will take longer to process. Complex requests includes situations where additional information or review is required. This service standard was modified in 2018-2019.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to issue your notice of reassessment within two weeks of receiving your digital request to change your individual income tax return.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 95% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 87% of notices were issued within this standard. Additional investments announced for T1 adjustments will support improved results for fiscal year 2019-2020.

T1 adjustment requests – paper

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for responding to paper adjustment requests (T1) from individuals or their representatives. Our standard applies to straightforward taxpayer-requested adjustments only. Some change requests are considered complex and will take longer to process. Complex requests includes situations where additional information or review is required. This service standard was modified in 2018-2019.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to issue your notice of reassessment within eight weeks of receiving your paper request to change your individual income tax return.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 95% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 83% of notices were issued within this standard. Additional investments announced for T1 adjustments will support improved results for fiscal year 2019-2020.

Benefits

Benefit applications – digital

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for processing digital Canada child benefits applicationsFootnote 4This service standard was modified in 2018-2019.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to issue your notice and payment, if applicable, within eight weeks of receiving your digital benefit application.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 95% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 95% of digital benefit applications were processed within this standardFootnote 4.

Benefit applications – paper

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for processing paper Canada child benefits applicationsFootnote 4. This service standard was modified in 2018-2019.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to issue your notice and payment, if applicable, within eleven weeks of receiving your paper benefit application.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 95% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 99% of paper benefit applications were processed within this standardFootnote 5.

Claims

Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Credits, and Film and Media Tax Credits (FMTC) – All claims

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for processing claims for tax incentives from businesses that conduct SR&ED in Canada and for reviewing T2 corporation income tax returns that include claims for the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, the Film or Video Production Services Tax Credit, the British Columbia (B.C.) Film and Television Tax Credit, the B.C. Production Services Tax Credit, the Manitoba Film and Video Production Tax Credit, the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit, and the Ontario Production Services Tax Credit. The SR&ED program is a federal tax incentive program administered by the CRA that encourages Canadian businesses of all sizes and in all sectors to conduct research and development (R&D) in Canada. It is the largest single source of federal government support for industrial R&D. The SR&ED program gives claimants cash refunds and/or tax credits for their expenditures on eligible R&D work. The objective of the Film and Media Tax Credits is to encourage Canadian programming and to support an active film and video industry in Canada. This service standard was introduced in 2018-2019.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to process SR&ED and FMTC claims within 60 calendar days from the date we receive a complete claim when we do not select the claim for review or audit.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 90% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 96% of claims were processed within this standard.

Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Credits – Refundable claims

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for processing claims for tax incentives from businesses that conduct SR&ED in Canada. The SR&ED program is a federal tax incentive program administered by the CRA that encourages Canadian businesses of all sizes and in all sectors to conduct research and development (R&D) in Canada. It is the largest single source of federal government support for industrial R&D. The SR&ED program gives claimants cash refunds and/or tax credits for their expenditures on eligible R&D work. This service standard was introduced in 2018-2019.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to process SR&ED claims within 180 calendar days from the date we receive a complete claim when we select the claim for review or audit.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 90% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 84% of claims were processed within this standard. The CRA is working to improve results throughout 2019-2020. As of December 2019, 90% of claims are being processed within the published service standard, and the CRA anticipates meeting the annual target in 2020-2021.

Film and Media Tax Credits (FMTC) – All claims

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for reviewing T2 corporation income tax returns that include claims for the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, the Film or Video Production Services Tax Credit, the British Columbia (B.C.) Film and Television Tax Credit, the B.C. Production Services Tax Credit, the Manitoba Film and Video Production Tax Credit, the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit, and the Ontario Production Services Tax Credit. The objective of these tax credits is to encourage Canadian programming and to support an active film and video industry in Canada. This service standard was introduced in 2018-2019.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to process FMTC claims within 120 calendar days from the date we receive a complete claim when we select the claim for review or audit.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 90% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 89% of claims were processed within this standard.
Pension, deferred, and education plans

Pension, deferred, and education plans

Written enquiries

Deferred income plans - response to written enquiries

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for responding to written enquiries pertaining to deferred income and savings plans. Written enquiries includes general enquiries, plan-specific enquiries, waivers, administrative relief, and requests to validate earnings and service. This service is provided to clients who have questions or concerns about registered pension plans, registered disability savings plans, registered education savings plans, registered retirement savings plans, registered retirement income funds, deferred profit sharing plans, supplementary unemployment benefit plans, tax-free savings accounts, or registered investments. We generally deal with all written enquiries on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to respond to a written enquiry within 60 calendar days.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 80% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 81% of written enquiries were responded to within this standard.

Actuarial valuation reports

Actuarial valuation reports

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for reviewing and responding to actuarial valuation reports. For an employer's contributions to a registered defined benefit pension plan to be tax-deductible, an actuary must demonstrate that the contributions are necessary to pay for the future pension benefits for employees. These contributions must be approved by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
  • Our standard: Our goal is to provide a decision on the recommended employer contributions to a registered pension plan within 270 calendar days of receipt of the actuarial valuation report.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 80% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 79% of decisions were provided within this standard.

Applications

Applications to register pension plans and deferred profit sharing plans

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for reviewing and responding to applications to register new pension plans and deferred profit sharing plans.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to provide a decision within 180 calendar days of receipt of an application to register a pension plan or a deferred profit sharing plan.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 85% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 97% of decisions were provided within this standard.

Deferred income and savings plans (specimens)

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for reviewing and responding to submissions to approve, amend or terminate specimen plans for disability savings plans, education savings plans, retirement income funds, retirement savings plans or tax-free savings accounts. A promoter, issuer or carrier can only market its plan once the specimen plan is approved by the CRA or when the proposed amendments under an existing specimen plan are approved. This service standard was amended in 2018-2019 to include disability savings plans and tax-free savings accounts and to increase the target to 90%.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to review applications to approve, amend or terminate a specimen for a disability savings plan, education savings plan, retirement income fund, retirement savings plan or tax-free savings account within 60 days of receipt.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 90% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 99% of applications were reviewed within this standard.
Charities 

Charities

Charities – written enquiries

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for responding to written enquiries concerning charities. This service is provided to taxpayers who have questions or concerns relating to charities, including applicants for registration, registered charities, donors, media representatives, corporations, tax professionals, all levels of government, and the general public.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to review and respond to a routineFootnote 6 written enquiry within 45 calendar days, and review and respond to a complexFootnote 7 written enquiry within 120 calendar days.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 80% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 83% of written enquiries concerning charities were reviewed and responded to within this standard.

Charities – responding to applications

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for reviewing and responding to applications for charitable registration. The CRA generally processes applications for registered charitable status on a first-come, first-served basis. If the application is approved, the CRA will send a notification of charitable registration. This service standard was modified in 2018-2019.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to respond to a complete application for charitable registration within six months.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 80% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 94% of applications for charitable registration were responded to within this standard.
Rulings and interpretations 

Rulings and interpretations

GST/HST rulings and interpretations – written enquiries

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for responding to written requests for GST/HST rulings and interpretations. The purpose of GST/HST rulings and interpretations is to promote voluntary compliance and consistency by providing certainty with respect to the interpretation of GST/HST legislation. Our GST/HST rulings and interpretations program provides timely, accurate, and accessible technical information on entitlements and obligations under the Excise Tax Act and related regulations.
  • In response to written requests, we issue rulings and interpretations to explain technical GST/HST matters. This service is offered at no cost.
  • A ruling is a written statement that the CRA provides, that sets out the CRA position on how the relevant provisions of the Act apply to a clearly defined fact situation.
  • An interpretation is a written statement that the CRA provides, that sets out the CRA view on how the Act applies to a generic fact situation.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to respond to a written request for a GST/HST ruling or interpretation within 45 business days of CRA receipt of the request and all the relevant facts and supporting documentation. This excludes highly technical and precedent and/or policy-setting rulings and interpretations.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 80% of the time
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 86% of written requests for GST/HST rulings and interpretations were responded to within this standard.

Advance income tax rulings

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for issuing advance income tax rulings to taxpayers. An advance income tax ruling is a written statement given to a taxpayer stating how the CRA will interpret and apply specific provisions of existing Canadian income tax law to a definite transaction or transactions the taxpayer is contemplating. The purpose of the advance income tax ruling is to promote voluntary compliance, uniformity, and self-assessment by providing certainty as to the income tax implications of the proposed transaction(s). We charge taxpayers cost recovery fees for advance income tax rulings. The target for this service standard was modified in 2018-2019.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to issue an advance income tax ruling within 90 business days of receipt of all essential information from the client.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this service standard 80% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 90% of advance income tax rulings were issued within this standard.

Technical interpretations

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for issuing technical interpretations to taxpayers. Technical interpretations of specific provisions of income tax law are provided, in writing, both to taxpayers directly and to other areas of the CRA in an effort to deal with complex income tax issues. Technical interpretations provided to the public are not income tax rulings and are therefore not binding on the CRA. We do not charge a fee for this service.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to issue a technical interpretation within 90 business days of receipt of all essential information from the client.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this service standard 85% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 89% of technical interpretations were issued within this standard.
Dispute resolution – Complaints, objections, and relief requests

Dispute resolution – Complaints, objections, and relief requests

Service Complaints

Service Complaints

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for a service-related complaint. If a recipient is not satisfied with the service they received by a CRA employee and even after talking to a supervisor, they can proceed to file a formal Service Complaint. The recipient can fax the form or letter, and any related documents, to 1-866-388-7371 from Canada or the United States, or 1-819-536-0701 from outside of Canada and the United States, or send it by mail.
  • Visit our service complaints site: Make a service complaint.
  • A complaints officer will make regular contact with you to keep you informed on the progress of your file and the status of your complaint.
  • A service complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction with a service provided by the CRA. In general, service refers to the behaviour or attitude displayed by any CRA employee, or the quality and timeliness of the work performed. Complaints could include:
    • mistakes, which could refer to misunderstandings, omissions, or oversights;
    • undue delays;
    • poor or misleading information; or
    • staff behaviour.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to resolve the complaint within 30 business days.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 80% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 66.6% of complaints were resolved within this standard. Additional capacity has been assigned to address service complaints and to improve response time in 2019-2020.

Tax objections

Low-complexity tax objections – 180 day resolution

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard related to the resolution of low-complexity objections. Low-complexity objections may include issues such as credits associated with the Goods and Services Tax Credit and Canada Child Benefit programs, income amounts reported on an information slip, deductions from total and/or net income, and Non-refundable Tax Credits. Additional information to assist in determining complexity levels can be found here: Processing times and complexity levels – Income tax and GST/HST objections.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to resolve low-complexity objections within 180 days.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 80% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 93.7% of low-complexity objections were resolved within this standard.

Medium-complexity tax objections – 365 day resolution

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard related to the resolution of medium-complexity objections. Medium-complexity objections may include income tax objections related to business expenses and more complex T1 issues, as well as GST/HST objections to issues such as New Housing Rebates, Input Tax Credits, and Imposition of GST/HST. Additional information to assist in determining complexity levels for objections can be found here: Processing times and complexity levels – Income tax and GST/HST objections. This service standard was introduced in 2018-2019.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to resolve medium-complexity objections within 365 days.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 80% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 76.4% of medium-complexity objections were resolved within this standard.

Taxpayer relief requests

Taxpayer relief requests – timeliness

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for issuing decision letters for taxpayer relief requests to cancel or waive penalties and interest. This standard aims to provide taxpayers filing a relief request with a decision on their request within 180 days from the date the request is received at the CRA. This service standard does not include non-resident requests for cancelling or waiving penalties and interest, taxpayer relief requests to accept late, amended, or revoked elections, or requests to issue refunds or to reduce the amount payable beyond the normal three-year period.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to issue a decision letter on a taxpayer relief request to cancel or waive penalties and interest within 180 days of receipt.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 85% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 87.5% of decisions were issued within this standard.
Enquiries and account updates 

Enquiries and account updates

Telephone enquiries

Telephone enquiries serviceFootnote 8

  • What is this? This is a service standard for responding to telephone enquiries.
  • Our standard: We will update our service standard to provide Canadians with clearer information about the service they can expect from our call centres and publicly report on telephone inquiries service levels in fiscal 2019-2020 at year-end on Canada.ca.

Online enquiries

My Business Account enquiries

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for responding to My Business Account enquires.
  • Standard: Our goal is to respond to your enquiries submitted through My Business Account within two weeks.
  • Target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 95% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 100% of My Business Account enquiries were responded to within this standard.

Account updates

Authorize or cancel a representative – digital

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for processing a request to authorize or cancel a representative. This service standard was modified in 2018-2019.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to update your account information within three business days of receiving your digital request to authorize or cancel a representative.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 95% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 99.5% of account information was updated within this standard.

Authorize or cancel a representative – paper

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for processing a paper request to authorize or cancel a representative. This service standard was modified in 2018-2019.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to update your account information within four weeks of receiving your paper requestFootnote 9 to authorize or cancel a representative.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 95% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 90% of account information was updated within this standard. Additional resources have been assigned to processing requests and improving response time in 2019-2020.

Service standards from previous years

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