Small Businesses Give the CRA a 'C'

Taxman pushes new initiatives to treat small businesses like customers, not criminals

Written by Advisor Staff

Photo: Francis Vachon/CP

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is getting better, but most small business owners wouldn’t know it, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ (CFIB) CRA Report Card.

The majority of small business owners and tax practitioners surveyed support recent changes at the agency, but still give the taxman a “C” grade.

“Paying taxes is not something that anyone looks forward to, but dealing with the CRA can be especially painful for small business owners,” said Corinne Pohlmann, senior vice president, National Affairs, at CFIB. “The agency has put a lot of great measures in place to treat taxpayers more like customers, but hasn’t done the best job of getting the word out.”

Most small business owners are unaware of the agency’s recent service improvements:

  • Liaison Officer Initiative (eight per cent are aware)
  • Commitment to honour advice given online through My Business Account (16%)
  • Increased source deduction thresholds (24%)
  • Call centre agents required to provide their ID numbers (38%)

Awareness is higher among tax practitioners (43% for My Business Account), but still very low for a group that deals with the CRA on a daily basis. “When more than half the tax experts in the country are unaware of a service that provides iron clad tax advice, clearly communication is an issue,” added Pohlmann.

Overall, 55% of small business owners still feel that CRA treats them like they’ve done something wrong, and 54% think the agency needs to improve the clarity and quality of information it provides.

When told about the above service improvements from CRA, an overwhelming majority of small business owners and tax practitioners were supportive (over 80%), suggesting that improved awareness would make a difference in the way small business owners perceive the agency.

“Apart from stronger service standards and implementing third-party reviews, improving overall taxpayer awareness of CRA initiatives tops the recommendations we’ve outlined in our report,” concluded Pohlmann. “We’re hoping these will help increase accountability at the CRA, and cut some of the unnecessary red tape that small business owners face.”

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How do you feel about the CRA? Is a €˜C’ too lenient, or not generous enough? Let us know using the comments section below.

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