By Chad Saikaley, CPA, CA, TEP
We hear our clients loud and clear when they express, through us, their frustration at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and, in some cases, frustration at their GGFL contacts for processing delays over which we have little control.
During our 70-plus years in business, GGFL has developed a mutually-respectful relationship with CRA and its variously named predecessors.
When our interactions with CRA have demanded the resolution of disagreements, we have worked with the Agency to resolve those disagreements as respectfully and quickly as possible.
We recognize that staff at CRA are dedicated people whose responsibility is to all Canadians. We also know that the Agency is in the throes of rearranging its tax centres and, during this rearrangement, are encountering numerous problems.
At GGFL, our responsibility is to our clients, and we are laser-focused on the financial welfare of those people who put their trust in us.
We share that frustration and, according to our DFK accounting firm colleagues across the country, we are certainly not alone in experiencing long CRA processing times and related issues, such as lost documents.
For those clients who may not know, DFK International is an international association of independent accounting firms and business advisers of which GGFL is proud to be a member.
Our clients understandably get anxious when there are delays – especially in receiving refunds. We do all we can to expedite the process, but, increasingly, we are meeting many varied delays.
- Follow-up phone calls are taking an average of one-hour hold time – and that’s when we are able to get into the call queue.
- It can take CRA a minimum of eight weeks to log documents into its system.
- Faxed and emailed items are being mislaid after being sent to CRA. Some clients suggest that we have not processed and sent the documents as speedily as we should. This is not the case.
- There is an influx of new staff at CRA, and the evidence suggests that there is a significant learning curve happening within the Agency. We, and colleagues in other DFK firms, are having to spend additional time fixing common errors, such as lost payments; interest not being properly reversed were applicable; entries and amounts keyed in incorrectly; credits denied when they should have been accepted; and incomplete processing, such as processing the federal credit but not the provincial credit.
- Here is a typical example from last spring: We mail in a return at the end of April with the expectation that CRA’s 20-week processing time will be met. We call after 20 weeks and it has not been processed. The agent creates an ‘inquiry request’ and asks us to call again in four weeks. After four weeks, we have to repeat the process and call back in another month. Typically, by then, the work has been completed.
That is a synopsis of the challenges that GGFL and other accounting firms are facing.
We are doing our best, and will continue to do so, in the hope and expectation that CRA’s current teething problems will be resolved and we can return to the level of efficiency that our clients are entitled to expect and most certainly deserve.