Fear Factor grips small business when dealing with taxman

OTTAWA, Jan. 16, 2012 /CNW/ - Intimidated. Treated like I've done something wrong. Those are just some of the ways small business owners describe their experiences with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), according to a new report that was released today by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

Based on a survey of 10,600 small business owners and tax practitioners (eg. accountants), this report is the fourth in a series that CFIB has produced on the CRA since 2001 and coincides with Canada's third annual Red Tape Awareness Week™. Asked to grade the CRA's overall service to small business, the majority of respondents gave the Agency a "C" or lower; nearly 40 per cent gave it a D or F. For most, there has been little improvement in service in the last three years.

"While CRA has taken steps to improve the way it treats small business owners, those efforts are being drowned out by poor customer service, including audits that some of our members described as witch hunts," said CFIB's senior vice president of research and economics, Laura Jones.

The CRA does deserve credit for implementing measures in recent years to make the organization more accountable to taxpayers, including the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Taxpayer Ombudsman and ID numbers for call-centre personnel. But these measures are only useful if users are aware of them.

"When you include the lack of public awareness about measures intended to promote taxpayer fairness, CRA still has a long way to go to improve relations with small business taxpayers," said CFIB's national affairs vice president Corinne Pohlmann.

CFIB has outlined a number of recommendations to help the CRA change its culture and solve its customer service deficit. "By taking steps that improve the training of front-line staff and communicating requirements in plain, easy-to-understand language the payoff for the CRA will be greater compliance and more confidence in Canada's tax system, a goal we share," concluded Pohlmann.

To obtain a copy of the CRA report card go to www.cfib.ca. What does 'Red Tape' mean to you? Check out CFIB's video on what it looks like to one small business owner: href="http://www.youtube.com/user/cfibdotca">http//www.youtube.com/user/cfibdotca

Red Tape Awareness Week™, conducted annually, is trade-marked by the CFIB.

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 108,000 members in every sector nationwide, giving independent business a strong and influential voice at all levels of government and helping to grow the economy.

SOURCE CANADIAN FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS

For further information:

To arrange an interview with Corinne Pohlmann or Laura Jones, please contact Linnet Forand at 613 235-2373 or by email apublic.affairs@cfib.ca

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CANADIAN FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS

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