Service improvement request - Emergency Benefit Validation Delays
Our Office is hearing from many complainants who indicate the CRA is taking much more than the suggested 4 weeks service standard to validate their eligibility for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).
On the CRA webpage, CRB – If your application needs validation, available at canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/recovery-benefit/crb-validation,(Date modified indicates March 25, 2021) it indicates:
The CRA may ask you to provide additional information to validate your application. We cannot issue your payment until the validation process is complete. This may take up to 4 weeks from the date we receive your complete response.
However, on the CRA Newsroom – Tax Tips – 2021, Pre-payment validation for COVID-19 recovery benefits, released on April 14, 2021, and available at canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/news/newsroom/tax-tips/tax-tips-2021/still-time-file-taxes-by-april-30-2021 the CRA indicates:
Pre-payment validation for COVID-19 recovery benefits
The CRA has implemented additional up-front verification and security measures for COVID-19 recovery benefits to help ensure that those receiving the benefits are eligible as these benefits were designed to replace income.
If their records do not show that an applicant has earned the minimum amount of $5,000 required to be eligible, the CRA will ask the applicant to provide documentation to support their claim before their application is processed.
Applicants are encouraged to file their 2019 and 2020 taxes by April 30, 2021 as this is the best way to ensure that the CRA can process their application within 3-5 business days. If the CRA needs additional information, it may take up to eight weeks for them to process the application from the time the requested documentation is received.
Complainants indicate to our Office 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.
We also heard from a complainant who was informed by a CEBVIPS agent the CRA is currently processing submissions received at the end of January, which would bring the validation time to approximately 10 weeks.
To address the conflicting information, increase transparency, and to improve the service the CRA provides to Canadians, the Ombudsperson requests the CRA to:
- Update its webpage, CRB – If your application needs validation, canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/recovery-benefit/crb-validation, with the submission received date the CRA is 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
For example, the CRA could indicate:
- Supporting documents that were received the week of February 1, 2021, are currently assigned to a validation officer.
- Post an informational bulletin at the top of canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/recovery-benefit/crb-validation 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.
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 request from the OTO, we did mention the inconsistency on the CRB validation page as well as CRA Newsroom - Tax Tips - 2021.
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