Ms. Sherra Profit, Taxpayers' Ombudsman, today issued the following statement:
OTTAWA, April 1, 2019 /CNW/ - As Canada's Taxpayers' Ombudsman, I am pleased by the investments proposed in Budget 2019 to support the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in improving client services and fairness in the administration of Canada's tax system. Budget 2019 provides $115 million in funding over five years to the CRA for additional staff to process adjustments to T1 returns, a dedicated phone support line for tax providers, and improved information technology systems.
My office regularly receives complaints from individuals who are experiencing delays in processing their returns and adjustments. Budget 2019's funding commitment indicates a recognition of this problem and is a first step towards reducing delays. However, simply hiring more employees to process adjustments does not address the underlying cause of processing delays. It is important the CRA identify and take steps to resolve the root causes of delays to improve processing times.
Through communicating with people across Canada, I know the dedicated phone lines have a positive impact on the way tax preparers interact with the CRA and as a result, serve their clients. I am optimistic the CRA will commit to maintaining this direct access beyond the five year Budget commitment.
Canadians expect the CRA to keep pace with technological advances to facilitate simple and accessible interactions. The investment to improve information technology systems is needed. Most importantly, the CRA must eliminate existing silos in the way it stores taxpayer information, by allowing information to be shared across its large number of program areas. Although the CRA has made great strides in providing digital services to its users, we regularly encounter situations where complainants receive conflicting information from different areas of the CRA, must submit the same documentation to multiple areas, or are subject to decisions that do not take into account information held by other areas of the CRA.
This investment is also an opportunity for the CRA to collaborate with community partners to develop digital tools and services that can be used by organizations supporting vulnerable segments of our population, and increase access to CRA services. Partnerships with these groups will be essential in determining their needs when facilitating access to the CRA and assisting those who cannot or have not made the shift to digital systems.
I am encouraged by the objectives and investments set out in Budget 2019. I look forward to seeing the resulting improvements for taxpayers and benefit recipients. Through my continued work with the Minister of National Revenue and the CRA, my Office and I are committed to protecting taxpayers' rights and ensuring the fair administration of our tax system.