While it may not always seem like it, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is working to help small businesses succeed. We take a look at some CRA initiatives that can help your business.
We often hear from members about the difficulties they have dealing with the Canada Revenue Agency. In recent years, and due in no small part to our advocacy, CRA has added tools and resources aimed specifically at small businesses like yours:
- CRA call centre agents are now required to provide their ID number to callers.
- Payroll guides have been updated to clarify rules around family members and Employment Insurance.
- CRA has reduced the time it takes to resolve an objection with them.
- They have improved the audit experience and ensured consistency through better auditor training, and getting feedback directly from small business owners through a post-audit survey.
Here are some of the initiatives they’ve launched to help small businesses deal with the tax man.
My Business Account
My Business Account is an online portal that allows business owners like you to communicate with the CRA. Written advice you get though My Business Account will be honoured by CRA even if it’s incorrect—meaning you won’t be charged penalties/fees for tax mistakes caused by bad information provided by CRA.
My Business Account also allows you to:
- View activity in your account – balances, transactions, remitting requirements, etc.
- Pay accounts
- Request EI Rulings
- Register an objection or appeal
You can access My Business Account by using your CRA user ID and password and your business number, or you can use a sign-in partner, such as your banking institution’s online banking service.
Liaison Officer Initiative
Through the Liaison Officer Initiative, CRA aims to help small, unincorporated businesses understand their tax obligations right from the start. By helping avoid mistakes early on, small business owners will face fewer audits, reassessments and fines in the future.
A Liaison Officer can offer a voluntary face-to-face visit to focus on educational and preventive measures, and will:
- Answer your company’s tax-related questions and share general information of unintentional or recurring errors made by businesses in your industry.
- Review your company’s books and records, providing advice and guidance on accuracy and completeness.
- Provide information on various tools and services offered by the CRA.
For more information, please review the Liaison Officer Initiative FAQ or contact your CFIB Business Counsellor.
Represent a Client
Represent a Client is an online portal, similar to My Business Account, which allows authorized representatives (accountant, lawyer, payroll administrator) access to tax information on behalf of businesses and individuals.
Representatives with an active RepID from CRA can log into Represent a Client to send an electronic authorization request along with a certificate page from your client. CRA will review, validate and process the information within five business days.
Business owners can set up authorization for themselves, a group, or all employees through the My Business Account portal.
If you prefer not to have online access, then the form RC59 can be used to request access to a business’s information via telephone or through the mail.
Dedicated telephone service for tax professionals
Tax professionals can speak with experienced CRA officials in the Income Tax Rulings Directorate to find answers to complex technical questions that arise when completing income tax returns on behalf of clients.
The service is available to Chartered Professional Accountants:
- In public practice in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba or New Brunswick
- Who are sole proprietors, partners, or shareholders in a CPA firm with up to three partners of shareholders
- Who prepare income tax returns for clients
There is no cost to the program, but if you meet the eligibility requirements, you can e-mail a registration form to the Dedicated Telephone Service team.
Following consultations in late 2016, CRA issued a report entitled Serving You Better, which contains more in-depth information on the positive changes CRA is considering. You can also contact your CFIB Counsellor if you have any questions.