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As a tax professional, I feel compelled to address the latest Annual Report from Canada’s Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson, which paints a concerning picture of the CRA’s treatment of taxpayers. While the report identifies some progress, it also highlights significant areas where the CRA falls short, particularly in its interactions with family-owned enterprises and owner-managed businesses.
The Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson Report – A Critical Overview:
- Service Quality Concerns:
The report outlines persistent issues with CRA contact centers, including long wait times and inconsistent information. For family-owned enterprises, which often lack the resources of larger corporations, these inefficiencies can be especially burdensome.
- Delays in Processing:
Ongoing delays in processing income tax, benefit returns, and adjustment requests have become a chronic problem. These delays can disrupt the financial planning and cash flow of smaller businesses, which are the backbone of our economy.
- Aggressive Collection Actions:
The resumption of complaints about the CRA’s collection efforts is alarming. The report suggests that these actions sometimes cause undue hardship, particularly for smaller businesses that may already be struggling.
- COVID-19 Benefits Delays:
Delays in COVID-19-related benefits have had a significant impact. For family-owned businesses, which were among the hardest hit during the pandemic, these delays could and have meant the difference between survival and closure.
A Call for Greater Protection and Transparency:
While the Ombudsperson’s recommendations are a step in the right direction, they fall short in offering tangible protections for owner-managed and family-owned businesses. There’s a dire need for:
- Enhanced Transparency:
Proactive communication from the CRA about program delays and processing times is crucial. Business owners need accurate information to make informed decisions.
- Improved Service Standards:
The CRA must improve its contact center services to provide consistent, reliable information, reducing the administrative burden on smaller enterprises.
- Fair Collection Practices:
The CRA should implement more equitable collection practices, recognizing the unique challenges and constraints faced by family-owned businesses.
- Targeted Support for Tax Clinics:
Increased investment in tax clinics and streamlined administrative processes would greatly benefit smaller enterprises that rely on these services for compliance and advice.
The Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson’s report is a wake-up call. The CRA needs to recalibrate its approach to better serve and support the vital segment of our economy constituted by family-owned enterprises and owner-managed businesses. These entities deserve a tax administration system that is fair, transparent, and responsive to their unique needs. As professionals dedicated to serving these businesses, we must continue to advocate for their rights and ensure their voices are heard in the halls of power.
For more information see Letter to the Minister of National Revenue from Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson or or schedule a meeting with the tax professionals at Shajani CPA.
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Shajani CPA is a CPA Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer firm and provides Accountant, Bookkeeping, Tax Advice and Tax Planning services.