Examination into the Canada Revenue Agency’s communication to taxpayers on changes to the deduction requirements of the Canada Pension Plan

March 31, 2016

The Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman conducted a systemic examination into whether the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) sufficiently and effectively communicated to employees and employers the changes to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) deduction and contribution requirements for employees aged 60 to 70 following the January 2012 legislative change. This examination is being closed without recommendation.

Background

The Canada Revenue Agency and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) share the responsibility of communicating any changes to an employee’s requirement to pay CPP, the administration of the program, and the collection of the contributions. The CRA is responsible for the administration and collection of CPP contributions and this includes ensuring that CPP contributions are deducted, remitted, and reported by employers, as required by the applicable legislation. ESDC is responsible for determining an employee’s eligibility for CPP benefits.

Prior to January 1, 2012, employers were required to stop deducting CPP contributions from employees aged 60 to 70 years old when they started to receive CPP or Québec Pension Plan (QPP) benefits.

As of January 1, 2012, the CPP legislation changed to make CPP contributions mandatory for workers aged 60 to 70, regardless of whether they were receiving CPP benefits. However, employees aged 65 to 70 who were receiving CPP benefits may choose to file an election to stop their CPP contributions using the Form CPT30 ‑ Election to Stop Contributing to the Canada Pension Plan, or Revocation of a Prior Election (Form CPT30). For the 2012 and subsequent tax years, a failure to file this election and reporting zero dollars ($0) for CPP contributions may result in an eligible employee having a significant balance owing as a result of the CRA reassessing that year’s income tax return to add the CPP contributions that should have been deducted.

In January 2013, my office began receiving complaints from employees and employers who claimed that they were unaware of the new legislative requirement to file the Form CPT30 to elect to stop their CPP contributions. They also claimed they were unaware that the form needed to be submitted to the CRA by December 31, 2011, in order for it to be in effect at the beginning of the 2012 tax year. Employees reported that it was not their intention to contribute to CPP during the 2012 tax year; therefore, their employers had not deducted CPP from their earnings.

My office initiated a systemic examination in April 2013, concerning whether the CRA sufficiently communicated the new CPP contribution requirements in an effective and timely manner.

The CRA informed my office that as the communications activities were a joint effort between ESDC and the CRA, the CRA and ESDC worked collaboratively on the communications products to ensure the messages were consistent to both employees and employers. The CRA’s principle responsibility was to inform employers of the changes to ensure compliance with the deduction and submission of the CPP contributions. As ESDC took the lead on communications to employees, those communications did not fall within the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman’s mandate; therefore, ESDC’s communications did not form part of our examination.

Findings

Our preliminary research showed that in 2011 and 2012, leading up to and after the legislative change taking effect, the CRA made information available on their website and income tax guides regarding the change. For example, the CRA included information under the “What’s new?” heading in the Guide T4001 Employers’ Guide ‑ Payroll Deductions and Remittances, and the Guide 5000‑G General Income Tax and Benefit Guide on both the individual and business webpages of the CRA’s website. Both of these publications were available in print as well as online. Information was sent to targeted seniors organizations and publications as well as targeted employers’ organizations. Webinars were hosted for employers and messages were sent to payroll list subscribers to notify of new web content for employer pages. Outreach sessions and presentations to key stakeholders were held.

As my office was conducting our examination, we learned that the CRA was also receiving complaints from employees and employers indicating that employees aged 60 to 70 and their employers were still not fully aware of the CPP changes. The CRA reviewed its communications and released more communication products in the fall of 2013 to inform of the new requirements. These communications included tax tips for employees and employers, distribution of messages through electronic mailing lists and rich site summary (RSS) feeds, news clips on the radio, leveraging the email capabilities of My Business Account, a webinar, and tweets via Twitter.

Once the CRA was made aware of the confusion and lack of knowledge of the change in the CPP contribution requirements, it changed its administrative policy to accept back-dating the Form CPT30 for the 2012 tax year only. To be granted this opportunity to late-file the election, the employee would have to have been eligible to file the Form CPT30 on December 31, 2011, and they could back‑date the Form CPT30 election to December 31, 2011, for the 2012 tax year. The CRA determined that in these cases, the taxpayers’ intent was to not contribute to the CPP for the 2012 tax year.

We conclude that the actions taken by the CRA with respect to the initial and subsequent communications, as well as the administrative relief for late-filed Form CPT30 elections for the 2012 tax year, sufficiently addressed the issues raised in the complaints received by my office. My office has not received any further complaints on this issue.

Next steps

Given the efforts that were made since receiving the complaints from employees and employers, we are closing this examination without recommendation.

A copy of this memorandum will be published on the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman’s website 60 days following its receipt by your office. A summary of our findings may also be included in our 2015‑2016 annual report or published in a future newsletter on our website.

Should you require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Original signed

Sherra Profit

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