by Morinville News Staff
A new report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says the level of service and information small businesses receive from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)’s call centre has dropped.
For the fourth year, CFIB has released a report card on CRA, and this year has dropped CRA from a C- to a D. The finding is based on 200 secret shopper calls to CRA’s business enquiries line.
“We evaluated the CRA on real questions that our Business Counsellors answer on a regular basis. These are common questions from business owners, but some posed a real challenge for many of the agents we spoke to,” said CFIB’s Senior Cice-President of National Affairs Corinne Pohlmann. “It’s very concerning to find that business owners calling the CRA are often getting inaccurate information or may be left on hold for over an hour.”
CFIB says the drop this year is largely due to long wait times in getting questions answered. The business group found CRA’s new phone system eliminated busy signals, but frontline agents appear to have more limits on which questions they are allowed to answer, resulting in more transfers in calls to senior agents.
The average time to connect with a senior agent was one hour, with the longest wait time being two hours.
Accuracy of information provided by CRA agents was also an issue with the current report finding a decrease. CFIB says only 60 per cent of calls received a complete response, down from 69 per cent in 2017.
Capital Cost Allowances, revised in late 2018, seemed to stump CRA agents in particular, the CFIB found. Only half of the agents spoken to were able to provide a complete answer, and 25 per cent answered incorrectly.
“A quarter of CRA agents were unaware of the new Capital Cost Allowances that had been in place for more than six months and told callers to claim just 25 per cent of costs in the first year, not the 100 per cent they are entitled to,” Pohlmann said. “This kind of misinformation is not just a waste of time for business owners, but may also cost them a significant amount of money that could otherwise be reinvested in the business or its employees.”
CFIB is calling on CRA to increase its service standard to ensure that 80 per cent of calls should be received by an agent within 15 minutes, up from the current 65 per cent goal. They are also seeking to have 80 per cent of questions answered within 20 minutes. They see this as possible by updating CRA agents more regularly about tax policy changes to ensure they are not providing business owners with outdated information.