Influencing change

The Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson (OTO) has been submitting recommendations through Requests for Service Improvement (RFSI) to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and systemic examination reports to the Minister of National Revenue affecting a large number of taxpayers or a segment of the population.


Request for Service Improvement (RFSI)

A Request for Service Improvement (RFSI) is a tool that we developed in the 2016-2017 fiscal year that we use to make recommendations to improve the quality of service the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) provides. These requests may stem from systemic examinations, systemic research, issues heard on outreach, or from an individual examination.

The information below represents the most recent RFSI that the OTO has submitted to the CRA.

Latest RFSI

Emergency Benefit Validation Delays

Background

The Office of the Taxpayers' Ombudsperson (OTO) is hearing from many complainants who indicate the CRA is taking, in excess of four weeks, to validate their eligibility for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).

Complainants expressed concern that when they call the Canada Emergency Benefits Validation and Identity Protection Service (CEBVIPS) after the 4 weeks have elapsed, agents are not providing a timeframe of when the CRA will process their application, and in many cases complainants are told their cases have not been assigned to a validation officer, and to callback later to follow up.

The issues that we are seeing are in regards to CRA’s website on CRB validation web page, it lists that it may take up to 4 weeks from the date they receive the complete response while the CRA Newsroom – Tax Tips – 2021 web page, states that if CRA needs additional information, that it can take up to 8 weeks for them to process.

We also heard from a complainant who was informed by a CEBVIPS agent that the CRA is currently processing submissions received at the end of January, which would bring the validation time to approximately 10 weeks.

Service Improvement

To address the conflicting information, increase the transparency, and to improve the service the CRA provides to Canadians, the OTO recommends that the CRA:

  • Update the CRB validation page with a date for which CRA submissions they are currently working on, on a bi-weekly basis. We suggest the page to look like the Processing times and complexity levels – Income tax and GST/HST objections page, Processing times and complexity levels - Income tax and GST/HST objections - Canada.ca,
  • Post an informational bulletin at the top of CRA Validation page that identifies the length of time the CRA will take to review supporting documents, after they are received, based on the submission date they are currently validating.
  • Communicate to taxpayers the length of time it will take to review their supporting documents, if they call to request an update on their eligibility.

Update

April 30, 2021 The CRA has updated their CRB validation web page to confirm a validation timeframe of 8 weeks. Although this was not a recommendation from the OTO, we did mention the inconsistency on the CRB validation page as well as CRA Newsroom - Tax Tips - 2021.

RFSI - SYS-000012
Systemic Examination Reports

The reports listed below include recommendations to the Minister for changes to be made by the CRA to address the issues examined and improve its service to taxpayers.  Once submitted to the Minister, the OTO publishes the report on its website no sooner than sixty (60) days after.Footnote 1

The OTO has been requesting follow-up information from the CRA on its actions in response to the recommendations made in systemic examination reports.

The following is a breakdown of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson’s systemic examination reports, the recommendations, the actions taken by the CRA, and the OTO’s analysis of those actions: 

*Mobile users: Please scroll left-right to view the full chart below.


Systemic Examination Reports Published Ombudsperson's recommendations Recommendations accepted by Minister of National Revenue CRA Updates OTO's analysis of CRA's actions

Back to Basics                          An examination into whether the CRA is using the Taxpayer Bill of Rights as a foundational document to guide its daily activities; and how the CRA ensures it is continually accountable in upholding taxpayer rights and reporting publicly on how it does this.                           [view report]

June             2020 14 14    
Reaching Out                            An examination into improving the Canada Revenue Agency’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Program                              [view report May        2020 15 14    
Sub-Standard                           An examination into delays and lack of transparency in the Canada Revenue Agency's processing of individual income tax and benefit returns and adjustment requests.        [view report] February 2020 15 14    
Fair warning
An examination into service issues related to legal warnings issued by the Canada Revenue Agency during debt collection procedures.
[view report]
March 2019 9 9 Update (September 2019) Analysis pending.
Benefits Unsheltered
An examination into the Canada Revenue Agency's communication and outreach efforts to shelters and other support organizations about benefits and credits administered by the Canada Revenue Agency. [view report]
December 2017 3 3 Update (August 2018, and September 2019)

The CRA has taken appropriate steps to address the recommendations in the report.

[view analysis]

Without Delay
An examination into service issues arising from delays in the Canada Revenue Agency's Taxpayer Relief Program
[view report
September 2017 4 3 Update (August 2018, and September 2019)

Analysis in progress.

Rights and Rulings
An examination into the sufficiency of informe-agency/corporate/about-canada-revenue-agency-cra/service-improvements-updates.htation in ruling letters from the CPP/EI Rulings Division of the Canada Revenue Agency [view report]
March 2017 5 5 Update (August 2018, and September 2019)

The CRA has taken appropriate steps to address the recommendations in the report.

[view analysis]

Alive and Well
Investigation into the erroneous coding of taxpayers as deceased by the Canada Revenue Agency
[view report
February 2014 8 8 Update (December 2017)

The CRA has taken appropriate steps to address the recommendations in the report. The OTO continues to monitor for complaints.

[view analysis]

Donor Beware
Investigation into the sufficiency of the Canada Revenue Agency's warnings about questionable tax shelter schemes
[view report]
December 2013 4 4 Update (December 2017)

The CRA has taken appropriate steps to address the recommendations in the report.

[view analysis]

Getting it Right
Investigation of service and fairness issues arising from the misallocation of payments by the CRA
[view report]
July 2012 3 3 Update (December 2017)

The CRA has taken appropriate steps to address the recommendations in the report.The OTO continues to monitor for complaints.

[view analysis]

Acting on ATIP
Service issues in the CRA’s Access to Information and Privacy processes
[view report]
March 2012 7 7 Update (December 2017)

The CRA has taken appropriate steps to address the recommendations in the report.

[view analysis]

Earning Credits
Service and fairness issues in the assessment of tuition tax credits for expenses incurred attending educational institutions outside Canada
[view report]
March 2012 5 5 Update (December 2017)

The CRA has taken appropriate steps to address the recommendations in the report.

[view analysis]

Knowing the Rules
Confusion about the rules governing the Tax-Free Savings Account
[view report]
June 2011 3 3 Update (December 2017)

The CRA has taken appropriate steps to address the recommendations in the report.

[view analysis]

Proving Your Status
Establishing eligibility for the Canada Child Tax Benefit
[view report]
October 2010 5 5 Update (December 2017)

The CRA has not taken appropriate action to resolve the issues raised in the report. The OTO has opened an examination into the ongoing service issues.

[view analysis]

The Right to Know
Examination of the sufficiency of information in Decision Letters from the Appeals Branch of the CRA
[view report]

August 2010 1
1 Update (December 2017) The CRA has taken appropriate steps to address the recommendations in the report.
[view analysis]  
15               Reports   101  recommendations made 98 recommendations accepted    
Select [view report] under each Systemic Examination Report title to view the report. Click on the number under the "Ombudsperson's recommendations" column to view the recommendations specific to that report. Select "update" under "Actions taken by the CRA" to see the update provided by the CRA. Select “[See OTO’s News Release]” under “Recommendations accepted by Minister of National Revenue” to see information on the one recommendation not accepted.

The OTO will follow up on actions taken by the CRA in response to future recommendations made by the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson.

The Taxpayers' Ombudsperson also achieves results for Canadians by examining and resolving individual taxpayer complaints. For more information, see the Digest of Taxpayer Service Rights.

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