2021-2022 Annual Report of the Office of the Taxpayers' Ombudsperson: The CRA can do better when it comes to communicating with Canadians
OTTAWA, December 13, 2022 - Today, Canada's Taxpayers' Ombudsperson, François Boileau, released his second annual report, Service Matters: Numbers Speak Volumes, which was tabled earlier today in the House of Commons by Mr. Peter Fragiskatos, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue. The report provides an overview of the activities of the Office of the Taxpayers' Ombudsperson between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022.
The Annual Report provides key achievements, identifies Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) service issues and outlines trends in complaints. In addition, the report includes three recommendations to the Minister of National Revenue and the Chair of the Board of Management to improve the CRA’s service to Canadians.
In 2021-2022, the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson received higher than usual volumes of complaints. Many of the complaints we received related to delays in receiving COVID-19 benefits. We also referred a record number of urgent requests to the CRA for individuals experiencing financial hardship.
2021-2022 report highlights:
The Ombudsperson recommends :
- (…) that the CRA look for ways in which a taxpayer can receive a security code the same day it is requested, allowing Canadians to have full access to their CRA Account in a timely manner.
- (…) that the CRA find a way to provide in-person same-day identity verification of a taxpayer.
- (…) that the CRA make it clear to Canadians that when it is administering a benefit that increases an individual’s income that it sufficiently informs applicants that the increase could affect their other income based benefits
- 2021-2022 : 4720 (+18%)
- 2020-2021 : 4010 (+183%)
- 2019-2020 : 1415
- 2021-2022 : 3847 (+9%)
- 2020-2021 : 3533 (+134%)
- 2019-2020 : 1507
- Complaints referred to the CRA’s Service Feedback Program
- 2021-2022 : 1255 (+2%)
- 2020-2021 : 1227 (+126%)
- 2019-2020 : 543
- Urgent Requests
- 2021-2022 : 1746 (+130%)
- 2020-2021 : 760 (+132%)
- 2019-2020 : 328
- Delays in obtaining COVID-19 related benefits: For the second year in a row, many Canadians contacting us reported service issues related to obtaining the CRA’s COVID-19 benefits. This year, 40% of the complaints related to delays in assigning cases to the CRA’s validation program to validate an applicant’s eligibility for the benefits.
- Quality of service provided by CRA Contact Centres: CRA Contact Centres continued to generate complaints. For many years, Canadians have made us aware of their dissatisfaction with this service. Some of the issues raised by Canadians relate to excessive wait times, receiving conflicting or inconsistent information, or calls being dropped prematurely.
- Delays in processing Income Tax and Benefit Returns and Adjustment Requests: Delays in processing income tax and benefit returns and adjustment requests have generated complaints to our Office for many years. In fact, we published a report on the issue called “Sub-Standard”. The CRA created an action plan and acted on many of the recommendations made by the Taxpayers' Ombudsperson. However, some recommendations remain outstanding.
- Access to CRA accounts : Throughout the year, some Canadians reported to us that they could not access their CRA account. This was particularly concerning when the individuals needed to urgently apply for COVID-19 benefits. When they called the CRA for assistance, they faced delays in having their account access restored
- Delays in obtaining the Canada child benefit (CCB) : We continued to hear concerns about the CCB. However, it is important to note that they represent less than 5% of the complaints we received. Some Canadians told us they experienced CRA delays in processing their CCB applications, verifying their eligibility, or they received benefits late due to CRA delays in processing their income tax and benefits return. These issues caused some of them to wait for a benefit they rely on. Our Office continues to monitor trending concerns as we continue to recognize CCB as one of the key benefits the CRA provides to nearly four million Canadians.
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“With regard to the delays we observed in terms of COVID-19 benefits, it seems that the heart of the problem lies in managing clients’ expectations. Are we talking about four, eight, ten or twelve weeks for validation to take place? The CRA should be clear on how long the process takes from beginning to end.”
“As we navigated a second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am proud of the assistance my Office was able to provide to Canadians, particularly the most vulnerable among us and those facing compelling circumstances. We are here to help.”
François Boileau, Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson
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