Identifying Systemic Issues

The Taxpayers' Ombudsperson is mandated to identify and review systemic issues and emerging trends related to the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) service to, and treatment of, taxpayers.

Examples of service issues include:

  • An inability to access the CRA and get answers
  • Delays in responses, decisions, and information from the CRA
  • Inconsistency in program application
  • Misallocation of payments
  • Lack of procedural fairness

What is a Systemic Issue?

A systemic issue is an issue that, if not identified and appropriately addressed, has the potential to have a negative impact on taxpayers in general, to recur, and to generate complaints.

Systemic Examination Process

Once a systemic issue has been identified, the Systemic Examination Unit follows three phases before conclusions can be reached or recommendations made. These are:

  • the research phase of the systemic issue in which details, complaints, and public comments on the matter are gathered;
  • the examination phase in which all of the research is reviewed to identify the underlying issues and work to determine proposed solutions; and
  • the reporting phase in which the findings and recommendations may be presented to the Minister of National Revenue and may be published as a special report or an observation paper.

Do you know of a systemic service or fairness issue?

The Taxpayers' Ombudsperson invites you to help identify systemic issues by submitting your comments. Visit our Submit Comments page for more information.

Making a difference

To read the results of our systemic examinations to date, visit our Special Reports section.

How does the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson make sure the Canada Revenue Agency follows the recommendations and that problems do not return?

When we make a recommendation based on the examination of a complaint, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) provides a response on the actions it will take. We follow up with the CRA to ensure these actions are taken.
When the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson makes recommendations to the CRA through a Request for Service Improvement, the CRA provides a response indicating what actions it will take. We follow up with the CRA to confirm these actions are taken.

When the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson makes recommendations to the Minister of National Revenue, through a systemic examination report, the CRA provides an action plan in response to the recommendations. We monitor and follow up to confirm the actions are taken and the issues addressed. We publish updates on these reports.

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