CRA Service Complaints to Ombudsman

About Complaints to CRA.
This is a good article about service level complaints against CRA. You can complain before going to the ombudsman, and I would recommend that you do that first. You will get a faster response, and may be able to resolve the matter at level one.

I note that the ombudsman’s office only had a thousand proper complaints last year… I guess you can look to see that grow about  a hundred times greater as Canadians learn that there is power to the complaint. Too many accountants are telling clients that there is no point to complaining because nothing happens. That is true if a complaint is either wimpy or filed by a wimp. (Not all accountants are wimps, although CRA gives them some pretty good reasons to be wimpy)  I you are going to accept a level one brush off.. then, there is no point in complaining.

When considering complaining to the ombudsman, the issues are really to understand that all an ombudsman can do is deal with how you are treated and not if the numbers are wrong or deal with legal issues..

Wrong numbers fall under the administration of the ITA, auditors are required to come to the right numbers. However that is not always the case. If you are dealing with legal or administration complaints, that is best dealt with directly with CRA.

Auditors are authorized representatives of the Minister, to administer the ITA and the ETA… they are not authorized to overrule other laws.

CRA staff do not like having complaints escalated, so if you file your complaint properly, you will get a response. Often you will get what I call the level one compliant brush off. If this happens, then you need to escalate the complaint, and put in some more ammunition in your gun.

To learn more about the fine art of complaining, go to www.taxauditsolutions.ca

Dan White

By Bruce Johnstone, Leader-PostMarch 18, 2010 2:10 AM

Canada’s Taxpayers’ Ombudsman, Paul Dube, spoke to the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

Canada’s Taxpayers’ Ombudsman, Paul Dube, spoke to the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
Photograph by: Roy Antal, The Leader-Post, Leader-Post

Canada’s Taxpayers’ Ombudsman says the biggest problem he deals with in mediating disputes between taxpayers and the Canada Revenue Agency is poor communications.

Paul Dube, a self-confessed “recovering lawyer,” who was appointed to the newly created position in 2008, says the CRA is a big, powerful bureaucracy that doesn’t always communicate well with its clients.

“The CRA has a tough job,” Dube said following a speech to the Regina and District Chamber of Commerce here Wednesday. “They have to protect the tax base. They have to detect fraud. They have to weed out the cheaters.

“And yet they have to give taxpayers their fair due and administer benefits to those who are eligible. Sometimes they err on one side, sometimes they err on the other.

“So they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t.”

What Dube, who was named Canada’s first Taxpayers’ Ombudsman in February 2008, attempts to do is ensure that taxpayers are treated fairly and professionally by the CRA.

“The way the CRA administers the law, the way they calculate the amounts is not within our mandate,” Dube said. “What is in our mandate is the way they explain to you what they’ve done, and the way they treat you.”

While the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman can’t adjudicate disputes over tax rates or policies, or matters before the courts, or disputes that pre-date the ombudsman’s creation, it can “bridge the communications gap” between the CRA and its clients.

“The bottom line is: Taxpayers are entitled to know how and why the CRA came to that decision,” Dube said. “And sometimes that’s all taxpayers want.”

Dube added that CRA generally does a good job in dealing fairly with taxpayers, but sometimes people “fall through the cracks.”

“Rules are dumb. Rules applied universally sometimes have an unfair result,” Dube said.

Given the size and scope of CRA’s job — the agency has 44,000 employees, handles 26 million individual tax returns and 1.6 million corporate filings, and administers benefits for 11 million Canadians — mistakes are inevitable.

“We are dealing with the exceptions. Just given the sheer volume of the transactions, the exceptions can mount and they can be pretty significant situations for taxpayers.”

In its first year of operation, Dube’s office received 5,000 contacts, but not all were valid complaints. Out of those 5,000 contacts, about 1,000 files were opened and over 950 files were closed that year.

“We’re on track to match that this year. The difference is more of the complaints are mandate-related,” Dube said.

“(Last year) a lot of people heard about us and just called us and said ‘I’m paying too much tax and I don’t like my notice of assessment.’

“This year, we’re finding more of the calls are within our mandate.”

Dube said taxpayers are pleased to learn they have rights, such as the right to be treated professionally, courteously and fairly, the right to receive complete, accurate, clear and timely information, the right to lodge a complaint against the CRA.

“People are encouraged by the fact that they have somebody to go to with these complaints — outside the CRA. That’s the big difference,” said Dube, whose office is funded out of CRA’s budget, but reports directly to the minister of revenue.

Taxpayers with complaints about the service provided by the CRA can call or visit www.taxpayersrights.gc.ca.

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