On November 21, 2017, the Auditor General for Canada released its 2017 Fall Reports and one section of this report was particularly scathing about Canada Revenue Agency's Call Centres.
The Agency's call centres are in place to give individuals and businesses timely and accurate information about their taxes, credits and benefits. CRA currently operates nine call centres across Canada.
CRA publishes service standards each year and reports on its own results compared to these service standards. For example, when a caller calls the general enquiries 1-800 phone number and indicates they want to speak to an agent, CRA's goal is to have an agent answer the call within two minutes, 80% of the time. In fact, the Agency's own published results for the 2016-2017 fiscal year indicate this happened 81.2% of the time.
The Auditor General's findings were that if CRA could not handle the call volume, they would block calls. This means you would get a recorded message that instructed you to call back later and then ended the call. The Auditor General found that more than half of the calls to CRA call centres ended up being blocked.
The Auditor General also tested the Agency's accuracy as far as how it answered general tax related questions that people may have. The Auditor General found that almost 30% of the time, the Agency gave incorrect information.
For example, one of the questions asked was "When will the interest begin to be charged on my 2015 initial assessment?" The correct answer is May 2, 2016 but a CRA agent gave a different answer 84% of the time.
Obviously, Canadians expect and deserve better service than this. That's why at Rawluk & Robert Chartered Professional Accountants Inc, our clients rely on us to answer the phone promptly and to give them accurate and reliable information. This Auditor General report just reconfirms what our clients already knew.