The Canada Revenue Agency's 12 Red Tape Reduction action plans

During the Government of Canada's Red Tape Reduction consultations in 2011, businesses provided the Red Tape Reduction Commission with irritants related to tax system administration. The CRA analyzed these irritants and established 12 Action Plans to address the concerns raised by small businesses.

To ensure that Action Plan commitments focussed on small business priorities, in 2012, the CRA held its own consultations with businesses. The results of the 2012 consultations are available in the report Focussing on Small Business Priorities: Canada Revenue Agency Consultations on Cutting Red Tape.

The action plans developed by the CRA as a result of these two consultations focus on the specific needs of businesses, and aim to reduce the tax administration burden on small business.

The CRA created action plans for each of the 12 commitments. They are:

Table of contents

1. Timely information availability and clarity

What will the CRA do?

  • Work with businesses to identify the specific information sources that need to be easier to obtain, as well as those that need to be clarified and simplified.
  • Implement an action plan based on identified business needs to make the required changes to improve the availability and clarity of information, including ease of access on web and user-centered design, testing, and approvals.
  • Focus its attention on information material such as guides and forms. Some examples of these guides and forms are: RC366, Direct Deposit Request for Businesses, and RC59, Business Consent Form.

These measures will help to reduce red tape by:

  • Decreasing the time that it takes for small businesses to find the information they need to meet their reporting obligations to the CRA.
  • Clarifying and simplifying the tax information provided by the CRA in addition to making it more accessible.

2. Effective communication to satisfy taxpayer requirements

What will the CRA do?

  • Survey businesses to identify the expectations, concerns, and issues facing those that rely on the business enquiries telephone service and the CRA website.
  • Provide the CRA's call centre agents with improved tools and training material based on feedback from businesses.
  • Enhance the CRA website based on the feedback from businesses through the survey, and through our Smartlinks program.
  • Implement a new agent greeting policy for business enquiries telephone agents to provide their names and ID numbers as part of their initial greeting. Completed.
  • Adapt the Interactive Voice Response system to make it easier for business callers to directly connect with an agent.
  • Improve tools so that agents have better access to the information they need to respond to questions.

These measures will help reduce red tape by:

  • Making it easier for callers to directly connect with an agent.
  • Improving the communication with businesses, resulting in a more efficient and effective telephone service.

3. Online services

3a. Online services - Information accessibility and written enquiries

What will the CRA do?

  • Increase options for electronically filing and amending information:
    • The CRA will expand the types of enquiries that can be submitted through the My Business Account enquiries service to include payroll enquiries.
    • The CRA will expand electronic filing services to handle more types of returns such as partnership returns (T5013s) and T2 Corporate amended returns.
    • Businesses and their representatives will be able to update their business banking and direct deposit information online.
    • RC59, Business Consent Form modernization will allow representatives to complete and submit the RC59 online.
  • Expand the CRA's ability to receive and respond to taxpayer enquiries electronically through My Business Account. Completed.
  • Create a new page on the CRA website that will take users to the appropriate online business service depending on the task they want to complete (for example, File, Pay, Review, Change Request, Calculate, and Register).Completed – Visit E-services for Businesses.
  • Increase awareness and usage of electronic services by enhancing My Business Account to include a redesigned welcome page that highlights electronic services already available for businesses; the ability to transfer payments between business accounts; and allowing business owners to update their banking information addresses for mailing or the location of their books and records. Completed – Visit What can I do on My Business Account?

These measures will help reduce red tape by:

  • Increasing the types and number of information returns that can be filed electronically, eliminating the time and costs associated with printing and submitting paper returns.
  • Reducing the number of steps required to find specific online services by leading users quickly and easily to the services they want.
  • Making it easier for businesses to submit written business enquiries to the CRA and receive written responses, giving them greater confidence in the information they receive from the CRA.

3b. Online services and improved online registration process

What will the CRA do?

  • Enhance the online registration process for obtaining a Business Number (BN).
  • Make changes to the Business Registration Online (BRO) application that will remove some restrictions and improve the usability of the registration website.

These measures will help reduce red tape by:

  • Ensuring that a more robust, secure, client-centric business number registration service is developed for businesses and their representatives, in response to user needs.
  • Streamlining and integrating service for registering federal, provincial, and municipal accounts.

3c. Online services and information accessibility and clarity

What will the CRA do?

  • Enhance electronic payments and pursue additional options such as electronic pre-authorized debits and available banking services for businesses.
  • Enhance the current Message Centre in My Business Account to include messages triggered by an event pertaining to the registrant's account. Completed.
  • Encourage the use of more CRA-delivered programs similar to the Hiring Credit for Small Business, which provide benefit to businesses without requiring their intervention.
  • Introduce secure electronic communication methods to advise businesses or their representatives that there is a message from CRA for them online (E-Delivery). Completed – Visit You've got online mail... from the Canada Revenue Agency.
  • Accept supporting documentation and receipts from businesses or their representatives through a secure internet channel (E-Documents). Completed.
  • Implement the Electronic Pre-Authorized Debits (ePAD) initiative, which will allow taxpayers/businesses to authorize the CRA to withdraw, on a pre-determined date, a pre-determined payment amount directly from their bank account at a Canadian financial institution.
  • Expand the Submit Documents secure online service to include certain audit programs and explore the feasibility of online submissions of unsolicited documents (documents the CRA hasn't necessarily requested).

These measures will help reduce red tape by:

  • Providing businesses with more options for making payments to the CRA.
  • Providing messages to My Business Account users that are triggered by specific events in their account.
  • Providing automatic electronic notification for participating businesses that there is online correspondence available for them in the My Business Account portal.
  • Providing businesses with a faster, cheaper, and more secure way to provide the CRA with documentation, such as receipts or contracts, to support expenses or credits claimed on a corporation tax return.

3d. Online services and enhanced identity authentication

What will the CRA do?

  • Identify opportunities to streamline and enhance identity proofing/authentication for secure electronic services.
  • Identify alternative ways to authenticate third-party representatives who do not have a personal filing history in Canada and therefore cannot currently be authenticated to use online services.

These measures will help reduce red tape by:

  • Streamlining the multiple identity proofing/authentication processes now required, making online services easier and less time-consuming to use.
  • Authenticating representatives who do not have a Canadian personal filing history, thereby allowing them to access the CRA's electronic services on behalf of their Canadian clients.

4. Accountability for information

What will the CRA do?

  • Foster increased understanding of our accountability for the written advice the CRA provides to businesses and develop an improved approach to communicating its accountability.

This measure will help reduce red tape by:

  • Developing clear accountability messaging that improves the confidence businesses have in the written advice that the CRA provides.
  • Increasing the certainty among businesses that they have been treated in a fair and consistent manner by the CRA.

5. Auditors knowledge, training and professionalism

What will the CRA do?

  • Refine the audit selection process so that small businesses with the highest risk of underreporting their taxes are selected for audit.
  • Provide training to help auditors become more sensitive to the needs and realities of small businesses.
  • Ensure that audits are carried out in a professional manner and that proposed assessments are correct in law through the creation of rigorous audit quality assurance review program.
  • Enhance auditors' communication and soft skills through new training products.

These measures will help reduce red tape by:

  • Less frequent audits for small businesses who are reporting their taxes properly, and therefore fewer business interruptions.
  • Increased and more effective communication between auditors and small businesses, resulting in a more efficient and streamlined audit process.

6. “Tell us once” approach to eliminate duplicate information requests

What will the CRA do?

  • Identify and prioritize opportunities to reuse data within the CRA.
  • Find affordable ways to retain information provided by small businesses so it is available to all CRA employees who require it, thereby eliminating the need for providing information more than once.

This measure will help reduce red tape by:

  • Sharing taxpayer-submitted information among various program areas within the CRA so that this data may be used for multiple purposes.
  • Having businesses submit less duplicate information to satisfy the reporting requirements of these different operating areas, ultimately reducing the amount of unnecessary contact with the CRA.

7. Timeliness for decisions related to appeals

What will the CRA do?

  • Have the two national intake centres currently in operation, screen, categorize and distribute most of the income tax and GST/HST objections workload to the CRA Appeals offices across the country.
  • Centralize large case workloads in specific offices, enabling all other offices to focus on resolving lower-complexity workloads which generally require less time to resolve.
  • Assign low-complexity workloads to any office in the country that has capacity, thereby increasing efficiency.

This measure will help reduce red tape by:

  • Reducing the turn-around time to resolve low-complexity, non-related objections, thereby improving the timeliness of appeals processes.

8. Timeliness for decisions related to rulings

What will the CRA do?

  • Improve the timeliness of responses to written requests for GST/HST rulings and interpretations by ensuring that the CRA meets the published service standard (45 working days of receipt into the CRA, excluding precedent and/or policy-setting rulings and interpretations).

This measure will help reduce red tape by:

  • Allowing small businesses to receive the technical GST/HST information they request in the form of a ruling or interpretation in a timelier manner. As a result, they will spend less time waiting for responses to their requests for written GST/HST rulings and interpretations. This will help them understand how to comply and resolve issues they may encounter again in their particular circumstance.

9. Reporting requirements

What will the CRA do?

  • Identify opportunities to simplify and scale-down reporting obligations, such as combining reporting for different programs or eliminating the need to report specific data.
  • Where suggested changes require a legislative amendment, the CRA will recommend that the Department of Finance consider such amendments.

This measure will help reduce red tape by:

  • Minimizing reporting requirements to help small businesses.

10. Filing frequency requirements

What will the CRA do?

  • Engage small businesses in a sustained manner to take business realities into account.
  • Make recommendations to the Department of Finance regarding issues related to filing frequencies.
  • Repeat the nil GST/HST filer pilot project in 2013-2014. The 2012-2013 project raised awareness among nil filers of their reporting options, and resulted in 71% of the 28,637 businesses contacted reducing their filing frequency.
  • Ensure that the Department of Finance is advised when it appears filing frequencies are out of date and recommend legislative changes where warranted.

These measures will help reduce red tape by:

  • Improving communication of filing thresholds, and information requirements.
  • Ensuring that thresholds not specified in legislation are reviewed and refined based on feedback from the business community, when appropriate.

11. Ensure that business perspectives are fully understood and appreciated in the policy development stage

What will the CRA do?

  • Establish a dedicated area responsible for coordinating and addressing small business filing, regulatory burden, and voluntary compliance issues. Completed.
  • Develop an external partnership database to record contact information for stakeholders and the CRA's working relationship with them. Completed.
  • Where appropriate, require that submissions to the senior executive committee for resource allocations demonstrate that appropriate and meaningful consultation has taken place.
  • Ensure that affected external stakeholders are aware of the Early Access Site and Electronic Data Distribution Site.
  • Continue to consult (every two years) with small businesses and small business service providers in cities across the country.

These measures will help reduce red tape by:

  • Ensuring that the CRA participates in regular, informed discussions with business stakeholders to determine, prioritize, and respond to emerging issues.
  • Ensuring that the CRA uses established and growing relationships to gather business perspectives in the policy and service development stages.
  • Ensuring that business perspectives and realities are considered and documented in developing CRA policy changes.
  • Ensuring that affected stakeholders have advance notice of new or revised forms and publications before the forms and publications are available on the CRA website.

12. Coordination and collaboration among regulators

What will the CRA do?

  • Continue to administer programs and services with or for federal, provincial, and territorial departments that reduce multiple demands for the same information.
  • Expand current arrangements for additional service and information exchange opportunities with federal, provincial, and territorial departments, where permitted by legislation.
  • Continue to explore opportunities to administer programs and services with or for other federal departments and provincial/territorial governments.
  • Where suggested changes require a legislative amendment, the CRA will recommend that the Department of Finance consider such amendments.

These measures will help reduce red tape by:

  • Combining a business's need to report annually to other federal, provincial, or territorial departments with its requirement to report annually to the CRA.
  • Coordinating or combining audits of a business within the CRA and with other federal, provincial, or territorial audits.
  • Coordinating or combining registration processes.
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