For basic information and tips, you can't go wrong with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). At its YouTube website, you'll find a host of web clips detailing how to file electronically, why it's important to file on time and how businesses can manage all of their tax information online, making tax preparation more streamlined.
But when it comes to more specific assistance, the CRA may not be the most reliable resource to turn to, based on an internal survey that was recently released.
According to a new report conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), call center assistants at the CRA often provide individuals and businesses with poor service.
"Calls to the CRA's tax help line were often dropped."
The CFIB arrived at this determination after performing a study that involved making more than 145 calls to CRA's call center business helpline. Using a number of different factors to judge quality - such as connecting to an agent promptly, wait time, information accuracy and agent professionalism - the agency scored at or below average fairly consistently.
For example, in 2010 CRA scored a "D" average for promptness in connecting to an agent and a "D-" in 2012 when a similar study was done. In CFIB's 2012 study, 20% of the calls made could not be completed and 3% were disconnected shortly after speaking with an agent.
The only area in which the CRA fared well was in accountability. In 2010, only 50% of agents provided their ID numbers, a rate which improved substantially in 2012, earning an "A-" grade as a result.
CRA Off The Mark 25% Of The Time
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the survey was the frequency with which CRA's tax advisors provided wrong information. CTV News reported that 25% of the time, agents were inaccurate.
Phillippe Brideau, CRA spokesperson, provided a statement to CTV News after the report was released. He noted that when the government agency is made aware of misinformation, it takes the steps necessary to come to a resolution. He also pointed out that tax filers have a recourse should they be errantly misled by filing a complaint at CRA's website.
At FBC, accuracy is what we thrive on. For more than 60 years, farm and small business owners have been able to take advantage of our suite of services, bringing new meaning to why "we make life less taxing." Plus, FBC stands behind its guarantee of quality protection in the event of an audit.
For more information, speak with an FBC specialist.