“Intimidated.” “Treated like I've done something wrong.”
Those are just some of the ways small business owners like you have described their experiences with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Of all the government departments and institutions, you have the most direct contact with CRA, which is why we have long been an advocate for better services for small businesses.
You work hard to pay your taxes on time and follow all the rules; CRA should work just as hard.
Recent progress at CRA
The feedback members like you provide through calls and surveys helps us work with CRA to find solutions that will make life easier for you and improve your interactions with CRA! Some of these improvements include:
- The CRA BizApp: This new tool can be downloaded to your mobile devices, and will let businesses securely view important tax information. You can check your business account balances, make payments by pre-authorized debit to your GST/HST, Payroll, and Excise duty accounts.
- The Liaison Officer Service: This is another positive development in the way that CRA deals with small business. Rather than waiting for the CRA to initiate a visit, owners of small unincorporated businesses can now contact the CRA to request free in-person help to understand and meet their tax obligations.
- My Business Account: This online tool not only allows you to make certain transactions online, but also submit questions directly to CRA. Even better, if they make a mistake, CRA will honour their response even if it is later found to be incorrect in an audit provided they were originally given all the relevant information.
- Serving You Better initiative: Based on feedback from stakeholders such as CFIB, CRA made commitments to improve a variety of its services, including improving the audit experience and working to reduce the time it takes to resolve an objection.
Your concerns with CRA
In countless calls with CFIB Counsellors, and in surveys over the years, our members made it clear that business owners have three top concerns with the country’s tax collector:
- Improving customer service: Telephone communication between callers and CRA staff must continue to improve. CRA also need to keep improving its written communication, both through My Business Account and through letters, by using clear and simple plain language.
- Improving accountability: Auditor training should be improved, and there should be specialized ones for certain sectors like agriculture.
- Improving how CRA operates: CRA should update policies on passive income, personal service businesses, thresholds for GST and source deductions, and offer more flexible timelines for businesses to file taxes, recognizing that not all businesses are alike.
Two reports to highlight your issues
We work hard to ensure that tax rules make sense for your business, so that you’re able to understand your tax obligations right from day one. Here are two ways we make sure CRA is hearing about what you need:
- CRA Customer Satisfaction Report: Every three years, we ask you to describe your experiences with CRA. In our latest report, CRA received a grade of “C” for “satisfactory.” You told us they still have some work to do, especially on letting you know about new services and providing clear information.
- CRA Call Centre Report Card: We evaluate CRA’s call-centre customer service for small businesses through a “mystery shopper” project. While there have been some improvements since 2012, some things, such as being able to connect with an agent when calling, got worse in 2016.
We are continuing to ensure that CRA works to reduce red tape for your business and we will work with them to ensure that their programs meet the needs of your business and addresses your top concerns.
Having issues with CRA?
See the resources our Counsellors have put together for more information about what to do if an auditor comes knocking, or how to get better service from CRA.