Ombudsman Update - Proving Your Status (2010)

Background

In October 2010, the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman (OTO) completed the report Proving Your Status: Establishing Eligibility for the Canada Child Tax Benefit.Footnote 1

This examination stemmed from complaints the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman received about Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) unclear requirements for proving eligibility for the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB).

Our examination showed individuals were having difficulties obtaining clear, accurate, and timely information from the CRA about the documentation required to confirm their eligibility for the CCTB.

To address the findings, the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman made the following five recommendations to the CRA:

  1. Provide clear examples of the types of documents a taxpayer may submit as proof of eligibility and/or marital status during validation and control processes. These examples should be widely distributed and be readily available on the CRA Web site under Validating Your Eligibility for Benefits and Credits, as well as in any applicable pamphlets and forms
  2. Form RC65 – Marital Status Change should provide examples of the types of documents that the CRA will accept from the taxpayer as valid documentation for a marital status change.
  3. Information about 'temporary eligibility' and 'temporary shared eligibility' should be readily available to taxpayers, including definitions of the terms and the eligibility requirements. The definitions, eligibility requirements, and related information should be on the CRA Web site and applicable publications, and referred to on form RC66 – Canada Child Benefits Application in the "Shared Eligibility" section of the form.
  4. The information contained in the section Validating Your Eligibility for Benefits and Credits from the CRA Web site should be added to pamphlet T4114 - Canada Child Benefits. This would enable taxpayers to obtain the necessary information about the CCTB program in one place.
  5. Increase the visibility of pamphlet T4114 - Canada Child Benefits on the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) page of the CRA Web site. This is an excellent and useful tool for taxpayers and benefit recipients interested in comprehensive information regarding the CCTB.
Following the release of our report in December 2010, the CRA provided the OTO with an action plan outlining how it intended to address the recommendations.
 

Update

Since taking office in July 2015, the current Ombudsman has consistently heard and received complaints about the CRA’s requirements for proving eligibility for the CCTB, and later the Canada child benefit (CCB) which in 2016 replaced the CCTB, the National Child Benefit Supplement, and the Universal Child Care Benefit.

In December 2017, the CRA provided an update on the actions it had taken to address the recommendations in the report. Additionally, the CRA provided briefings to the Ombudsman in April and October 2018 to demonstrate the service improvements it had made.

As the CRA indicated it was making changes to improve the administration of the CCB, the Ombudsman deferred the opening of a systemic examination and continued monitoring the issues raised in complaints. She provided feedback, input, and informal recommendations to the CRA on ways to improve the administration of the CCB. However, proving eligibility for the CCB and the resulting problems remain issues for many people and continue to be sources of complaints.

As such, the Ombudsman advised the Minister of National Revenue in August 2019 that she is opening an examination of ongoing service issues arising from the administration of the CCB, namely difficulties proving entitlement, validation, and information available. A copy of the opening memorandum to the Minister is available on our website at: https://www.canada.ca/en/taxpayers-ombudsperson/programs/reports-publications/memoranda-minister/review-of-the-impact-of-the-administration-of-the-canada-child-benefit.html.

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