Red tape reduction at the CRA: reducing the compliance burden for Canadian businesses

What is red tape?

For the purposes of the Red Tape Reduction Commission, red tape is defined as the unnecessary and undue compliance burden: the time and resources spent by business to demonstrate compliance with the federal government regulations.

To find out about the latest CRA activities on red tape reduction, stay connected with us through subscribing to RSS feeds and email lists, and following us on Twitter.

Top 10 Ways our Government has Reduced Red Tape for Businesses at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

  1. We have simplified payroll remittance: we made a simple change to tax administration that allows more than 50,000 small businesses to file their payroll taxes less often.

  2. The Business Tax Reminders app, allows businesses to create custom reminders and alerts for dates related to instalment payments, returns, and remittances.

  3. My Business Account lets businesses interact with the CRA like never before! Through this self-serve tool, businesses can receive certain correspondence and submit documents to the CRA online. Businesses can now complete 50 different kinds of simplified transactions online with the CRA.

  4. Businesses now have more freedom to manage their affairs online: update banking and direct deposit information through My Business Account.

  5. Enhanced auditor training was developed and the CRA created a dedicated team to address the needs of businesses. This is to ensure that the CRA considers the small and medium business perspective before making changes to programs and policies.

  6. It’s now easier for businesses to find clear and understandable information—My Business Account Enquiries Service allows businesses to ask tax questions related to their account online, and receive information they can rely on, in writing.

  7. Telephone service agents working with businesses are now required to provide an AgentID. This AgentID increases accountability by ensuring a consistent and user-friendly experience for callers and makes it easier for business owners to give feedback on CRA services.

  8. The Business Number (BN) allows businesses to be identified by one number while working with federal, provincial, and municipal governments. One number and a business can work with nine provinces and a number of programs with the CRA, Public Works and Government Services, Industry Canada, and Canada Border Services Agency.

  9. The recently introduced Liaison Officer Initiative (LOI) reduces the administrative burden by helping businesses to meet their tax obligations and “get it right from the start”. The LOI provides in-person support to businesses when they need it most at key points of their business cycle.

  10. We are committed to consulting with businesses every two years to ensure the CRA’s action plans align with the priorities of small and medium businesses. These ongoing discussions provide a positive opportunity for small businesses to share their thoughts and ideas.

For more information, go to The CRA’s history of red tape reduction 2011-2013.

The CRA continues to reduce red tape – highlights

Theme 1: Administrative burden and small business realities

Cutting red tape by:

A. Decreasing the time that it takes for small and medium businesses to find clear and understandable information they need to meet their reporting obligations to the CRA
Actions Status
New one-stop-shop web page for businesses enables them to easily find information and service options relevant to their tax situation Completed
New website information tools were developed, including Twitter, videos, and webinars On going
Follow us on Twitter @CanRevAgency

Videos and recorded webinars for businesses
Simplified some of the key guides and forms, including the Partnership Information Return Guide, and the RC366, Direct Deposit Request for Businesses, and RC59, Business Consent Form Completed
Forms and publications
B. Enhancing electronic services to increase small business options for electronically filing and amending information returns and e-payments
Actions Status
The CRA My Business Account highlights electronic services available for businesses, including: filing a return, making a payment, reviewing or changing information, and more Completed
My Business Account
What can I do on My Business Account?
Business owners can receive online mail in the secure My Business Account portal and receive notification by email when new correspondence is available in their secure online account Completed
Video: Manage online mail for businesses
Expanded electronic filing services include more types of returns such as partnership returns (T5013s) and T2 Corporate amended returns Completed
File electronically
C. Identifying ways to simplify interactions with CRA
Actions Status
Electronic written responses to small and medium business’ enquiries about tax matters can be obtained through the CRA My Business Account portal in which businesses or their representatives can ask the CRA tax-related questions about their accounts online and they will receive answers online and in writing Completed
Video: My Business Account Enquiries
“You've got online mail... from the Canada Revenue Agency” allows businesses to receive some of their correspondence from the CRA online Completed
Video: Manage online mail for businesses
“Smartlinks” allows web users to access a CRA agent directly from our website; so the agent can then help users navigate through the site or provide them with additional information  
To learn more, read RC4483, Final Report on Action Items.
Submit documents electronically - businesses or their authorized representative may submit scanned copies of receipts and documents requested by the CRA, as well as additional information related to a completed review, using a secure online service through My Account, or Represent a Client; once received, follow-up copies will not be needed by the CRA Completed
Submit documents online
In implementing the legislation for the Small Business Job Credit, the CRA eliminated any administrative burden for business by automating the eligibility process On going
Small Business Job Credit
D. Identifying operational changes to forms and thresholds
Actions Status
The CRA’s nil GST/HST filer project raised awareness among nil filers of their reporting options. 71% of the businesses contacted reduced their filing frequency Completed
Find out about GST/HST from A to Z.
E. Increasing coordination of information sharing among levels of government and departments
Actions Status
In partnership with Industry Canada, the CRA is working with other government entities to expand the use of CRA’s Business Number (BN). The BN makes it easier for small and medium businesses to register, eliminates duplicate accounts and other errors, and enables integrated on-line services, such as change of address CRA continues to work with other government departments through its “Tell Us Once” initiative On going
Business Number (BN) registration
F. Providing support to small and medium businesses, when they most need it, in order to get their tax obligations “right from the start”
Actions Status
The Liaison Officer Initiative (LOI) helps small and medium-sized businesses meet their tax obligations by providing in-person support at key points of their business cycle Completed
Liaison Officer Initiative (LOI)
CRA’s first-ever mobile app, the Business Tax Reminders app, allows small and medium-sized businesses to create custom reminders and alerts for dates related to instalment payments, returns, and remittances Completed
Mobile apps

Theme 2: Accountability

Cutting red tape by enhancing communication of CRA’s information provision policy
Actions Status
Developed an interpretation policy that clearly explains CRA’s commitments, practices and tools used in providing Canadians and businesses with the information they need to meet their obligations Completed
Information Provision Policy

Theme 3: Service orientation and professionalism

Cutting red tape by:

A. Improving telephone communications services to better answer small and medium business questions
Actions Status
Developed Agent ID that provides business owners with the name and identification number of the CRA agent who answers their calls to increase CRA's accountability for business calls, ensure a consistent experience for callers, and make it easier for business owners to give feedback on CRA services Completed
Contact information
Streamlined its existing Interactive Voice Response system to make it easier for business callers to connect with an agent. Completed
Overview of the CRA's strategic priorities
B. Enhancing auditor knowledge, training and professionalism
Actions Status
Developed training products to help auditors become more sensitive to the needs and realities of small and medium businesses. Completed
Business audits
Created an audit quality assurance review program to ensure that audits are carried out in a professional manner and that proposed assessments are correct in law. Completed
Video series: CRA tax audit

Theme 4: Consulting small and medium businesses

Cutting red tape by regularly consulting small and medium-sized businesses to make the changes that small and medium businesses want and need most
Actions Status
The CRA made a commitment to continuously solicit feedback on its processes and to make the changes that small and medium businesses want and need most.
In the fall of 2014, small and medium-sized businesses, their service providers and stakeholder associations were given the opportunity to provide their views on CRA’s Red Tape Reduction progress to date as well as providing input into CRA’s forward-looking red tape burden reduction agenda. The consultations included in-person, online and written venues to ensure that anyone in the business community could be heard.
The CRA’s 2014 red tape reduction consultations
Information on the consultations is expected to be available in the spring of 2015. The resultant CRA commitments will focus on the highest priorities identified by small and medium business participants On going
In the meantime, read the CRA’s report about Consultations on Cutting Red Tape.
The CRA is committed to supporting small and medium-sized businesses by reducing red tape and making it easier for them to access services and fulfill their tax obligations. More consultations to get small and medium business input are planned in 2016. Please check our website regularly Coming soon

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