Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson’s statement regarding Budget 2023 tax-filing proposals
I was pleased to see that Federal Budget 2023 announced measures to help ease the effects of high inflation for low- and moderate-income Canadians, such as the grocery rebate. I was especially pleased with the proposals to make the tax-filing process easier for Canadians; the Budget proposes to have the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) almost triple the number of Canadians eligible for its automated File My Return phone service and to have the CRA pilot a new automatic filing service to help vulnerable Canadians receive their benefits.
Our Office has been following the subject of automatic filing closely. I am hopeful that the Budget’s proposal marks the beginning of a new era, where Canadians are able to receive the benefits and credits they are entitled to without barriers.
But before the CRA starts to put the proposal into effect, there are crucial questions to ask: Will the service help those who don’t file and if so, how will they be reached? How will it support low-income individuals and other marginalized groups? Does the process remove barriers to filing and receiving benefit and credit payments, or does it create more? I was pleased to learn that before the CRA starts to pilot the new automatic filing service, it will be consulting with stakeholders and community organizations. These important voices will be essential to answering these questions.
Beyond the consultations, the CRA should keep these questions front of mind through every step of the development and implementation of the pilot project for automatic filing. Our Office will be following the CRA’s progress closely to make sure that this service works as intended— that it helps get money to those who need it most.
Mr. François Boileau, Taxpayers' Ombudsperson
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