Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson recommends ways to improve communication from the Canada Revenue Agency
OTTAWA, January 24, 2023 – Today, the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson, Mr. François Boileau, released The Lockout: Communication Was the Key. This report examined the communications the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) provided to taxpayers after it locked out some users from their CRA accounts in mid-February 2021 in an effort to protect accounts that could have been compromised. Many affected taxpayers expressed concerns about the lack of clear and timely communication from the CRA.
When CRA account users were locked out, the CRA should have been ready with a clear and useful communication strategy to address the concerns of confused, worried and frustrated taxpayers. As a result of the lack of communication from the CRA, our Office opened an examination to analyze the CRA’s communication approach and to determine whether there were opportunities for service improvement. Clear communication should have been the CRA’s primary concern after safeguarding taxpayer information. Our aim is to ensure that a similar situation does not happen in the future.
The report includes five recommendations to the Minister of National Revenue and the Chair of the CRA’s Board of Management:
- The CRA should review its communications processes to make sure it proactively inform Canadians about issues that could affect them.
- The CRA should ensure its web page alerts always provide current information.
- The CRA should ensure that it always provides a link for more information to a Government of Canada web page from its social media posts.
- The CRA should make the information it provides to media outlets available to Canadians at the same time.
- The CRA should make sure it has adaptable plans to communicate emerging issues effectively.
The Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson works independently from the CRA. People can submit complaints to the Office if they feel they are not receiving the appropriate service from the CRA. Our main objective is to improve the service CRA provides to taxpayers and benefit recipients by reviewing individual service complaints, as well as service issues that affect more than one person or a segment of the population.
The Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson assists, advises and informs the Minister of National Revenue about matters relating to services provided by the CRA. The Ombudsperson ensures, in particular, that the CRA respects eight of the service rights outlined in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
“Being transparent with Canadians is incredibly important. When affected CRA account users were locked out, the CRA should have been ready with a clear and useful communication strategy so worried and frustrated Canadians would not have needed to call the CRA. Situations like this should not happen in the future.”
Mr. François Boileau, Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson
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