CRA Call Centre Business Helpline gets C- grade from CFIB

For the second time in two years, the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) Call Centre Business Helpline received a lacklustre grade of “C-“ from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) on Day 3 of Canada’s Red Tape Awareness WeekTM. While the accountability of CRA agents has improved, service standards and agent professionalism have declined.

“It’s not easy to comply with a complicated tax code, especially when the CRA Helpline provides you with wrong information, or when you can’t get through to a CRA agent in the first place,” said CFIB  vice president for national affairs Corinne Pohlmann. “As job creators and taxpayers, small business owners deserve accurate information and better service from the CRA Helpline.”

In June and July 2012, CFIB made 145 calls to the CRA Call Centre Business Helpline to gauge the level of service and the accuracy of responses provided by CRA agents. While nearly all of the CRA agents contacted provided their names, locations and ID numbers without being prompted, the call centre had problems with other service indicators. A quarter of calls received busy signals, 19 per cent of inquiries received incorrect or incomplete information, and only 61 per cent of callers received accurate information when they tried to get it.

The good news for small business is that the government is taking action to improve CRA’s accountability to taxpayers. On Monday, the Hon. Gail Shea, Canada’s Minister of National Revenue announced that a pilot project requiring CRA agents to provide their ID numbers will be made permanent, and that agents will receive additional training to better answer questions from callers.

“While it’s encouraging to see greater accountability at the CRA Helpline, it clearly needs a lot of work to improve customer service,” added Pohlmann. “In recent years, CFIB has had the opportunity to work closely with CRA to improve their service to small business. There has been a lot of progress, and CFIB sincerely hopes this cooperation will continue.”

Based upon four standardized questions that are commonly asked by entrepreneurs, CFIB’s CRA Call Centre Report Card (Second Edition)  graded the CRA Helpline on five service indicators, including: Connecting to an Agent (D-), Service Standard (C+), Accuracy of Information (D), Accountability (A-), and Agent Professionalism (C). The overall grade of C- remains unchanged since CFIB’s last test in November, 2010.

Read the Report Card, and its eight recommendations to improve the CRA call centre’s accountability, accessibility and customer service.

Canadians are encouraged to show their support for CFIB’s Red Tape Revolution by signing the petition.

To arrange an interview with Corinne Pohlmann , please contact Gisele Lumsden at 416 222 8022 or email public.affairs@cfib.ca.

As Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses, CFIB is Powered by Entrepreneurs™. Established in 1971, CFIB takes direction from more than 109,000 members in every sector nationwide, giving independent business a strong and influential voice at all levels of government and helping to grow the economy.

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