Small businesses and tax practitioners think CRA’s service got worse in the last three years
CFIB’s new report highlights key areas of improvement for the CRA
Toronto, April 12, 2023 – Small businesses and tax practitioners rate the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)’s service as satisfactory, giving the CRA a grade of C, finds a new report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
While the CRA’s overall grade hasn’t changed since the last two report cards in 2014 and 2017, three in ten (31%) businesses and 76% of tax practitioners think CRA’s service got worse in the last three years.
“The CRA played a key role in delivering COVID-19 support programs to help small businesses survive the pandemic. Both business owners and tax practitioners had generally positive views on the administration of COVID-19 support programs. Almost two-thirds (63%) of business owners also felt that the CRA treated them with respect,” said Corinne Pohlmann, Senior Vice-President of National Affairs at CFIB. “However, while the CRA has made efforts to improve its interactions with small businesses, there’s still room for improvement.”
Potential CRA strike could exacerbate frustrations with CRA customer service
Two-thirds (66%) of business owners felt intimidated by the CRA, 51% felt as if they were treated like they did something wrong, and nearly half (48%) felt that they were not being provided with the tax guidance their business needed. Only 23% felt that the CRA is accountable for its mistakes or is making an effort to be small business friendly.
The Business Enquiries Line is one of the only ways that small businesses can connect directly with the CRA, and it’s important that it remains accessible and provides accurate information. Only 23% of business owners and 28% of tax practitioners felt confident in the answers provided by agents from the call centre. A common pain point was that CRA staff lacked adequate knowledge, with over half (58%) of tax practitioners rating the CRA staff knowledge as “poor.”
Given that small businesses already have a hard time reaching the CRA, the potential strike of CRA workers would create additional strain on small businesses that rely on CRA services every day.
“Long wait times to reach an agent, dealing with complex language and sometimes receiving inaccurate answers can be very frustrating for businesses and take too much of their time and energy. It shouldn’t be complicated,” said Michelle Auger, CFIB senior policy analyst and co-author of the report card. “The CRA needs to continue to improve its service to make it easier for businesses to comply with their tax obligations.”
CFIB is committed to working with the CRA to improve tax compliance and the services it offers to small businesses. To address some of these concerns, CFIB recommends the CRA:
- Improve accessibility to CRA staff by improving the CRA call centre and increasing the number of senior agents in order to improve wait times
- Ensure accurate and timely information is being provided, including rewriting website content in plain language and making it easier to find relevant content on the website
- Ease the regulatory tax burden for small businesses by establishing a standard tax deduction for small businesses and updating the thresholds for GST and source deductions on a more regular basis to account for inflation
“Business owners just want certainty and clear answers when they contact the CRA. It’s hard to do that when they’re forced to call agents multiple times, navigate a complicated website and deal with burdensome tax regulations. We hope the CRA continues to improve its services, so owners can devote more time to operating their businesses,” concluded Pohlmann.
Read the seventh edition of the CFIB’s 2023 CRA Report Card here.
For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 97,000 members across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at cfib.ca.