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Minister talks red tape with business owners


February 20, 2013
By Canadian Garden Centre & Nursery

Feb. 20, 2013, Toronto — A joint roundtable hosted by the Canada Revenue Agency and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) gave local businesses and CFIB members a chance to share their views on improving government services to businesses.

Gail Shea, Minister of National Revenue, and Laura Jones, executive vice-president of CFIB, were both on hand to hear what business owners believe is working well, and where improvements are needed to streamline interactions with the CRA.

“Our government is committed to cutting red tape for small businesses so that they can continue to grow and create jobs. Meeting with business owners and key national stakeholders like the Canadian Federation of Independent Business is a valuable way for our government to receive feedback on the quality of service delivery,” said Shea. “The Canada Revenue Agency continues to enhance existing features and introduce new ones so that businesses can focus more on running and growing their business, and spend less time filling out paperwork.”

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During the discussion, participants warned of ongoing red tape headaches business owners face when dealing with CRA, including the agency’s practice of freezing accounts and contacting a business’s customers to collect fees. Participants also identified concerns about mandatory electronic filings and unprompted changes to remittance schedules and penalties as priority action areas for the CRA.

“The efforts of Minister Gail Shea are not going unnoticed by Canada’s small business community,” said Jones. “Her dedication to accountability, and her willingness to treat business owners as customers is helping turn the tide in the battle against red tape.”

Shea was recently awarded the CFIB Golden Scissors Award for introducing measures that improve services at CRA and reduce the burden placed on small businesses. These initiatives include:

  • The My Business Account online enquiries service, where businesses or their representatives can ask tax-related questions online and receive written replies.
  • A dedicated team responsible for coordinating and addressing small business issues. The team’s mandate is to ensure the CRA takes a “small business lens” approach to service improvements and focuses on cutting red tape for small businesses
  • Agent ID for the CRA’s business enquiries telephone service. When a business owner calls the CRA, an agent will provide their first name, a number and a regional suffix at the beginning of each call. The Agent ID number ensures a consistent experience for callers and makes it easier for business owners to provide feedback on CRA services.
  • The Group ID feature in Represent a Client, which lets businesses maintain employee access to business information through the CRA’s online service. Business owners need only fill out the RC59 Business Consent Form once instead of completing the form multiple times – a key irritant for the business community.

In a report released during January’s Red Tape Awareness Week, CFIB issued a report card on the CRA’s Call Centre Business Helpline. The agency received a grade of C- for its performance. In explaining its assessment, the CFIB noted that although accountability of CRA agents has improved, members have observed declines in service standards and agent professionalism.


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