Systemic Examination into the Canada Revenue Agency’s Delays in Processing T1 Income Tax and Benefit Returns and Adjustments

March 21, 2019

SUMMARY

The Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman (OTO) is opening a systemic examination into service issues arising from the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) delays in processing T1 income tax and benefit returns and T1 adjustment requests. This examination is the result of complaints received reporting delays in the CRA processing T1 income tax and benefit returns and T1 adjustment requests.

BACKGROUND

Every year, individuals file their T1 income tax and benefit returns (T1 returns) to declare the income they earned in the previous year and/or apply for benefits. The filing season begins in mid-February and the deadline for most persons to submit their return is April 30.

The CRA states their goal is to issue notices of assessment within two weeks of receiving a digitally-filed T1 return and within eight weeks of receiving a paper‑filed T1 return. The CRA aims to reach this goal 95% of the time. This standard applies to T1 returns submitted by the filing deadline.

The CRA states their goal with respect to T1 adjustments is to issue notices of reassessment within two weeks of receiving a digital request and within eight weeks of receiving a paper-filed request for a T1 adjustment. This standard only applies to requests that are considered “straightforward”, i.e. not requiring additional review or information from the filer. The CRA aims to reach this goal 95% of the time.  

ISSUE

One of the top complaints we have heard over the last two years has been about delays experienced in the processing of T1 returns and T1 adjustment requests. For the purpose of this examination, delays refer to the time exceeding what filers expect would be required to process their return or adjustment request, given the CRA’s published service standards.

In some cases, delays in processing resulted in delayed refunds, resulting for some in the inconvenience of numerous calls to the CRA to determine the status of their T1 return or adjustment request. For others, delays in processing caused a delayed payment of benefits which resulted in personal and/or financial hardship.

Although the CRA reports it mostly meets its published service standards, the volume of complaints and our preliminary research indicate a need to further examine these issues.

NEXT STEPS

I have decided to open a systemic examination into delays in processing T1 adjustment requests and T1 returns that are filed by the due date. The examination will also consider whether the information available to the public regarding the processing of T1 returns and adjustment requests is sufficiently clear, complete, accurate, and transparent.

This memorandum will be published on the website of the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman 30 days following its receipt by your office.

Should you require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Original signed

Sherra Profit

Taxpayers' Ombudsman

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