Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has tasked National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier with making CRA a more proactive and client-focused department.
“The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) exists to serve Canadians. As Minister of National Revenue, your overarching goal will be to ensure that the CRA is fairer, more helpful, and easier to use,” Trudeau told Lebouthillier. “You will lead the government’s work to overhaul its service model so that people who interact with the CRA feel like valued clients, not just taxpayers.”
The instruction was one of the top priorities Trudeau listed in his mandate letter to Lebouthillier, which were made public Nov. 13. Mandate letters are given by the PM to Cabinet ministers at the start of their terms. They are used to establish a minister’s core agenda, and his or her success is judged by how much of the mandate letter he or she is able to accomplish.
Part of CRA’s transformation will include contacting Canadians who are entitled to, but haven’t applied for or received, tax credits or benefits.
The department will also offer to do the tax returns of low-income people, people on fixed incomes, or people whose financial situations haven’t changed over the year.
It will also re-vamp its letters and notices to make sure they’re easy to understand.
The new government plans to repeal changes to the rules governing charities who engage in political activities. Under former prime minister Stephen Harper, charities who engaged in political activities risked having their favourable tax status revoked. Critics alleged that the government was using the rule to revoke the status of charities whose causes went against government policies.
So the CRA and Finance department will work on clarified rules for “political activity,” and new legislation that will “strengthen the sector.”
The letter also promises the department “additional resources to help the CRA crack down on tax evaders and work with international partners to adopt strategies to combat tax avoidance.”
Read the entire mandate letter here.