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Auditor General: CRA Blocking Calls & Misinforming Taxpayers!

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The recent Auditor General Report is not good news for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

The CRA has nine call centres located across Canada that are supposed to provide taxpayers with timely and accurate information about their taxes, credits and benefits.

Based on the Auditor General of Canada’s report, however, a taxpayer calling the CRA is more likely to get blocked than to speak to a live agent, and when reaching a live agent, often has a fairly good chance of obtaining incorrect information.

Not good news at all, if you are the CRA.

In terms of those blocked calls, the Auditor General found that between March 2016 and March 2017 CRA call centres blocked 54% of all calls received by taxpayers, while an additional 10% of calls were directed to the CRA’s automated self-service.  On average, each caller then made three or four call attempts per week.  Even after several attempts, some callers did not always reach an agent or the automated self-service system. 

The Auditor General concluded that the CRA deliberately blocked and redirected these calls “so that it could meet its service standard for agent wait times”.  (The service standard is to answer 75% to 80% of all calls received within two minutes or less).  It seems the CRA’s strategy was to meet that standard by avoiding receiving those calls!  The Auditor General found that when all blocked or re-directed calls were factored in, the CRA’s overall success rate was only 36%.

Making matters worse, and this is the part about “wrong advice”, the Auditor General found that even when a CRA agent could be reached, that CRA was providing wrong information about 30% of the time.  In fact, some tax questions were actually answered incorrectly by the CRA over 50% of the time.  One question, on the application of “interest” was answered incorrectly 84% of the time! 

With the CRA’s 30% error rate overall, this should give taxpayers with serious issues, a serious pause for thought.  (If you think 30% is not a bad chance, think about your son or daughter undergoing a surgical procedure where there a 70% chance of coming through.  Those are not very good odds at all, if you ask me!) 

The bottom line is that for serious tax issues, the CRA’s self-help Call Center lines may not be the best option – even if you are one of the 36% of Canadians that is lucky enough to get through.

Legal advice is likely probably the better option.

Need tax advice?    Start that process by clicking here.

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