Auditor General Releases Report on Canada Revenue Agency Service Quality

On November 21, 2017 the Auditor General released its 2017 Fall Report. Included in the Report were the results of a yearlong audit of the Canada Revenue Agency call centres. The audit focused on whether the CRA provided taxpayers with timely access to accurate information about their taxes.

The Auditor General found that the CRA gave taxpayers very limited access via its call centres due to an inability to handle the volume of calls received. During the time the audit was conducted, the CRA received approximately 54 million calls and blocked approximately 29 million of those calls by presenting the callers with a busy message. Only 32% of calls reached an agent and each caller made an average of three or four call attempts per week.

Perhaps more concerning, however, is that when a taxpayer did speak with a CRA agent, they were provided with incorrect information approximately 30% of the time. Taxpayers relying on this misinformation may pay an incorrect amount of tax or, perhaps, miss deadlines to file their taxes. Each can result in the taxpayer incurring penalties.

Finally, the Report found that the CRA overstated its call centres’ service standard results in its public reporting. Accordingly to the CRA, approximately 90% of callers are connected to an agent or self-service system. However, this number does not take into account the calls blocked by the CRA. The CRA reported that it had been meeting its service goals but, when the blocked calls are factored in, the CRA’s success rate was merely 36%.

The Report’s findings are concerning because the CRA’s call centres are the primary method that taxpayers use to obtain information to assist them with preparing their income tax returns and ensuring that their benefits are correctly claimed.

The CRA has agreed with the results and recommendations of the Report and will be reviewing how it manages its incoming calls and its internal quality assurance practices. A full copy of the Report can be found here.

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