Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson requests that the Canada Revenue Agency improve the information it provides to Indigenous Peoples
OTTAWA, May 30, 2023 - The Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson, Mr. François Boileau, has sent a service improvement request to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), asking it to update its information for Indigenous Peoples on Canada.ca.
Right before the CRA began the 2023 tax-filing season, the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson (OTO) reviewed the CRA’s web pages for Indigenous Peoples. During this review, the OTO found some areas that are inaccurate or unclear.
For example, the “Taxes and benefits for Indigenous peoples” web page provides information on a simplified paper income tax and benefit return, but it refers to a form that is no longer in use. Additionally, the CRA has a factsheet for Indigenous Peoples, but some of the information on this factsheet can be confusing or misleading. Specifically, the wording related to the Canada child benefit, child care expenses, and Northern Service Centres is unclear and could create confusion and frustration.
It is paramount to provide accurate and clear information, especially at the beginning of the tax-filing season. According to public opinion research that the CRA conducted in 2022, Indigenous Peoples’ trust in and satisfaction with the CRA, as well as their rate of tax filing, are generally lower than the rest of population. While the Ombudsperson commends the CRA for having resources tailored to Indigenous Peoples, he would like to stress that inaccurate and unclear information results in, at best, more difficulties for them when filing their tax returns and, at worst, erosion of their trust in the tax system.
Additionally, filing a return is necessary for receiving benefits and credits. As well, those who do not file their returns and have less trust in the CRA are generally those who need the benefits and credits the most.
Although the OTO recognizes that the CRA makes an effort to provide information specific to Indigenous Peoples, there are still several areas that need improvement. Therefore, the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson requests that the CRA:
- develop a review strategy to ensure the information it provides to Indigenous Peoples is complete, accurate, and clear;
- update all the information it is providing to Indigenous Peoples that is out of date; and
- find a solution to ensure timely and up-to-date information is provided to Indigenous Peoples before each tax-filing season.
The Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson works independently from the CRA. Canadians 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 the CRA provides to taxpayers and benefit recipients by reviewing individual service complaints and 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.
The CRA has stated that it is working to reduce the number of non-filers. However, if the information in the material the CRA gives to the public is unclear or outdated, this information can become one of the barriers to filing.
Mr. François Boileau, Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson
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Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson / Government of Canada
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