Service Standards in the CRA

Due to the rapidly changing events related to COVID-19, measures have been taken by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to ensure the health and safety of Canadians and employees. At this time, the CRA is focused on delivering critical services to Canadians, and as a result, the delivery times of some services may be affected. Find out more about the CRA’s response to help Canadians during the pandemic.

Find out standard processing times

With the Check CRA Processing Times tool, you can quickly find out when you can expect us to complete your request or get back to you. To use the tool, select the relevant information from the drop-down menus, and it will display a target time for your request to be done or the length of time we expect it will take, based on our service standards.

Service Standards 2019-2020

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, claims, and clearance certificates

Tax returns, benefits, claims, and clearance certificates

Tax returns

Individual income tax returns (T1) – digitalFootnote 1

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for processing T1 individual income tax returns received electronically from individuals. Our standard applies to returns received on or before filing due dates. Our standard does not apply to returns filed for deceased, bankrupt, international and non-resident individuals, and emigrants. It also does not apply in situations where returns are filed for multiple tax years, or contact must be made for more information.  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 return.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 95% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2019 filing season, 97% of T1 individual income tax returns received electronically were processed within this standard.

Individual income tax returns (T1) – paperFootnote 1

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for processing paper T1 individual income tax returns from individuals. Our standard applies to returns received on or before filing due dates. Our standard does not apply to returns filed for deceased, bankrupt, international and non-resident individuals, and emigrants. It also does not apply in situations where returns are filed for multiple tax years, or contact must be made for more information. 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 return
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 95% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2019 filing season, 97% of paper T1 individual income tax returns were processed within this standard.

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 2019-2020 fiscal year, 96% of T2 corporation income tax returns filed electronically 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 individuals. 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 2019-2020 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 individuals. 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 2019-2020 fiscal year, 98% 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. This service standard was modified in 2017-2018.
  • 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 2019-2020 fiscal year, 99% 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 2019-2020 fiscal year, 95% of these notices of reassessment were issued within this standard. 

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 2019-2020 fiscal year, 89% of these notices of reassessment were issued within this standard. Additional investments announced for T1 adjustments have supported improved results for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Starting in 2020-2021, the paper processing service standard results will be impacted by COVID-19 restrictions on business operations; however, we remain committed to achieving optimal results for Canadians.

Benefits

Benefit applications – digital

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for processing digital Canada child benefits applications. This 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 2019-2020 fiscal year, 96% of these digital benefit applications were processed within this standard.

Benefit applications – paper

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for processing paper Canada child benefits applications. 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 2019-2020 fiscal year, 98% of these paper benefit applications were processed within this standard.

Disability Tax Credit CertificateFootnote 2 

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for processing a Disability Tax Credit Certificate (Form T2201) submitted by a taxpayer or their representative. Once a form is received, our goal is to issue a Notice of Determination advising whether the eligibility has been allowed or disallowed, or a letter indicating the reason for a delay in processing the application. This service standard was introduced in 2019-2020.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to issue your notice of determination of eligibility or a letter indicating the reason for a delay in processing your application, within eight weeks of receiving your Disability Tax Credit Certificate.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 95% of the time.
  • Performance results: In the 2019-2020 fiscal year, 87% of these applications were processed within this standard. Internal changes in the program were made early in the year and during the second half of 2019-2020, the CRA met the service standard. 

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.
  • 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 2019-2020 fiscal year, 98% of these 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.
  • 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 2019-2020 fiscal year, 85% of the claims selected for review were processed within this standard. The CRA has been working on improving the results. Since December 2019, 90% of these claims are being processed within the published service standard. The CRA anticipates meeting the annual target in 2020-2021 fiscal year.

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.
  • 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 2019-2020 fiscal year, 93% of these claims were processed within this standard.

Clearance Certificate requests

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for processing Clearance Certificate requests (TX19 and GST352) received from legal representatives.  A legal representative may want to get a clearance certificate before distribution of any property under their control. A clearance certificate certifies that all amounts for which the deceased, estate, trust, or corporation is liable to the CRA have been paid, or that we have accepted security for the payment. This service standard was introduced in 2019-2020.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to issue a Clearance Certificate within 120 calendar days of receipt of the request.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 80% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2019-2020 fiscal year, 95% of these requests 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. This service standard was introduced in 1995-1996.
  • 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 2019-2020 fiscal year, 91% of these written enquiries were answered 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). This service standard was introduced in 2001-2002.
  • 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 2019-2020 fiscal year, 81% of these 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. This service standard was modified in 2017-2018.
  • 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 2019-2020 fiscal year, 94% of these 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 2018-19 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 2019-2020 fiscal year, 100% of these 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. This service standard was modified in 2017-2018.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to review and respond to a routine Footnote 3 written enquiry within 45 calendar days, and review and respond to a complex Footnote 4 written enquiry within 120 calendar days.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 80% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2019-2020 fiscal year, 84.5% of the written enquiries concerning charities were reviewed and answered 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 provide an initial response within six months of receiving a complete application.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 80% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2019-2020 fiscal year, 86.5% of the applications for charitable registration were answered 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. This service standard was first implemented in 2006-2007.
    • 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 2019-2020 fiscal year, 86.9% of the written requests for GST/HST rulings and interpretations were answered 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 Canada Revenue Agency (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 2019-2020 fiscal year, 85% of the 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. This service standard was introduced in 2000-2001.
  • 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 2019-2020 fiscal year, 87% of the 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. This service standard was introduced in 2012-2013. 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 2019-2020 fiscal year, 90% of these complaints were resolved within this standard. During the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the Agency dedicated additional resources to reduce the length of time to respond to complaints.

Tax objections

Low-complexity tax objections

  • 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 GSTC and CCB 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 objectionsThis service standard was introduced in 2017-2018.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to resolve low-complexity objections within 180 calendar days from the date the objection was submitted to the CRA.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 80% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2019-2020 fiscal year, 97.2% of these low-complexity objections were resolved within this standard. 

Medium-complexity tax objections

  • 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 calendar days from the date the objection was submitted to the CRA.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 80% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2019-2020 fiscal year, 82.7% of these 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. This service standard was introduced in 2017-2018.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to issue a decision letter on a request for relief to cancel or waive penalties and interest within 180 calendar days of receiving the request.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 85% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2019-2020 fiscal year, 90.8% of these decisions were issued within this standard.
Enquiries and account updates

Enquiries and account updates

Telephone enquiries

Telephone enquiries service

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for responding to individual tax, benefit, and business telephone enquiries once callers indicate that they want to speak with an agent. Should an agent be unable to fully resolve a caller's enquiry, a call transfer or a call-back may be needed. This may result in additional wait times. When call volumes result in excessive wait times, we may intermittently refer some calls to the self-service telephone options.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to respond to your call within 15 minutes or less of opting to speak with an agent.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 65% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In 2019-2020, 43% of these telephone enquiries were answered within this standard. In the third quarter of 2019-2020, the CRA provided additional temporary funding to call centres in an effort to reduce wait times and improve the service level. By November, we began to see an improvement in service levels and wait times. While the CRA anticipates continued high call demands, we remain committed to achieving the service 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 2019-2020 fiscal year, 99% 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 request Footnote 5 to authorize or cancel a representative.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 95% of the time.
  • Our performance results: In the 2019-2020 fiscal year, 75% of account information was updated within this standard. The paper processing service standard results for 2020-2021 will be impacted by COVID-19 restrictions on business operations, however we remain committed to achieving the service standard.

Service standards from previous years

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