A report that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) blocks over half the calls it receives from Canadian taxpayers is outrageous and unacceptable, Kootenay Columbia MP Wayne Stetski said this week.
“It is clearly unacceptable for the government to deliberately block Canadians who are seeking information and advice,” Stetski said. “CRA has a mandate to help taxpayers understand our complex and often bewildering tax forms, rules, and procedures; they can’t simply ignore those who call for help.”
Stetski’s comments followed a report from the Auditor General of Canada Tuesday, which found CRA blocks (by giving them a busy signal or a message to go to the website or call back later) 54 per cent of callers. An additional 14 per cent get re-routed to an automated attendant. Ten per cent of those hang up within a minute when they can’t find the information they want.
“Even more shocking is the news that when callers reach a live person at CRA, over 30 per cent of the information they are given is wrong,” Stetski said. “When you add up all the numbers, fewer than one in five Canadians who call CRA actually get accurate assistance.”
“Here in Kootenay Columbia, we know all too well the problems with getting CRA’s help,” Stetski said. “My constituency staff in Cranbrook and Nelson receiving numerous calls from people who are frustrated with CRA and just want answers to their tax questions.”
The CRA responded to the Auditor General’s report by saying that a new phone system, to be installed by the end of 2018, will help. But they also claimed that people prefer to get a busy signal than to wait in a queue. The Auditor General said CRA could not back up that claim with research.
“I work with a variety of agencies and their Ministers every day,” Stetski said. “We are seeing the response times from a number of federal government departments getting worse but CRA is one of the most egregious.
“It’s time for CRA to stop blocking Canadians.”