Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson makes five recommendations in his 2020-2021 Annual Report

News release

One-pager with highlights of the Annual Report

OTTAWA, December 16, 2021 – Today, Canada’s Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson, François Boileau, released his first Annual Report, Adapting and Delivering in Unprecedented Times, which was tabled earlier today in the House of Commons by the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue. The report provides an overview of the activities undertaken by the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson between the period of April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

The Annual Report provides key achievements, identifies Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) service issues and outlines trends in complaints. In addition, the report includes five recommendations to the Minister of National Revenue and the Chair of Board of Management to improve service to Canadians. 

In 2020-2021, the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson received twice the number of complaints and referrals to CRA Service Feedback and almost three times the calls.

Many of the complaints we received related to the CRA’s administration of the COVID-19 benefits, with the majority coming from people experiencing financial hardship.

“While I do acknowledge the CRA provided COVID-19 benefits in record time, we found that the CRA did not always provide clear, accurate, and timely information to Canadians when they needed it the most” added Mr. Boileau.


Report Highlights in 2020-2021 (see image above):


For the first time, the Annual Report includes specific recommendations to the Minister of National Revenue and the Chair of Board of Management to improve the service provided to Canadians.

  1. The Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson recommends that the CRA provide a link, from its landing page, and, to our landing page
  2. The Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson recommends that the CRA make Canadians aware they can complain or provide feedback about the service it provides.
  3. The Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson recommends that the CRA create a process to ensure that any unclassified information that is provided by a CRA area to assist contact centre agents is also made publicly available.
  4. The Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson recommends that the CRA develop a way for people to securely submit documents electronically, without the need for them to access their CRA account.
  5. The Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson recommends that the CRA provide Canadians with the opportunity to request a callback, without the need to call the contact centre first. 


The Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson received a total of 3,533 complaints. We answered 183% more calls than we did in 2019-2020 and sent 132% more urgent requests to be actioned by the CRA than in 2019-2020.


Top trending categories:

  • COVID-19 benefits
    • Canadians commonly expressed frustration with the delays that were caused by many factors, including the verification of eligibility
  • CRA account
    • The lack of clear information that was provided when the CRA locked out over 180,000 users in February 2021
  • Contact centers
    • Canadians are commonly faced with long wait times, premature disconnections, or are told the queues are full making it difficult to reach the CRA to explain the issues they may be facing.
  • Income tax and benefit returns and adjustment requests
    • Delays in the CRA’s processing of income tax and benefit returns and adjustment requests
  • Canada child benefit (CCB)
    • CRA’s administration of the CCB and proving eligibility

Additional multimedia


“I assumed my role as Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson in the midst of a global pandemic, when the CRA was delivering essential emergency benefits to Canadians and our Office was under tremendous pressure to help those facing financial distress. By probing and questioning the CRA, our Office was able to better understand the issues, form recommendations and help more taxpayers and benefit recipients.” 

François Boileau, Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson

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Quick facts

  • Open Systemic Examinations

    Many complainants were frustrated with delays with verification of eligibility for COVID-19 benefits, as well as being locked out of their CRA Account in February 2021.

    In February 2021, the CRA revoked the login credentials of over 180,000 users, which resulted in users being locked out of their CRA account. The CRA took this action to safeguard taxpayer information, as the credentials may have been compromised by unauthorized third parties, external to the CRA. However, the increase of complaints we received from locked out users prompted us to launch a review of the steps taken by the CRA to provide the affected taxpayers with complete, accurate, and clear information, in a timely manner. We feel this should have been the CRA’s primary concern. The aim of our review is to ensure this does not recur.

  • Published Systemic Reports

    We also published two systemic reports during fiscal year 2020-2021:

    • The Reaching Out report reflects on the issues raised to our Office about the CRA’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Filing Program (CVITP), as well as the observations of the Ombudsperson, but prior to the pandemic. It includes recommendations for further improvements. In this report, the observations and subsequent recommendations have been organized into the following two major themes:
      • Difficulties accessing the CVITP, and;
      • Availability and sufficiency of resources and support for the CVITP.
    • The Back to Basics report details the rights taxpayers are entitled to receive when interacting with the CRA. The report analyzed how the CRA incorporated the Taxpayer Bill of Rights into its activities and how it makes taxpayers aware of them. Recommendations were made to position the Taxpayer Bill of Rights as a pillar of the CRA’s operations.
  • Published Paper

    The Taxpayer Rights in the Digital Age paper discussed the Government of Canada’s focus on enhancing digital services to Canadians, and explored the intersection of digital innovation, digital services, access and taxpayer rights, in light of the experiences of vulnerable populations in Canada.

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