CRA e-services improvements for T1 season

Just in time for T1 season, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has launched a host of helpful enhancements to its electronic services. Find out how these changes can lighten the load for tax preparers this April.

Tax preparers across Canada will be happy to hear about the latest improvements to the CRA’s digital services for personal tax filings. Many of these changes were developed with input from CPAs as part of our work with the joint CPA Canada-CRA Services Committee, under the framework agreement for cooperation between the two organizations.

As reviewed in detail in a recent CPA Canada-CRA webinar (available for replay), the following are some of the most important changes now in place or coming soon.

REFILE FOR EFILE NOW AVAILABLE FOR TWO PREVIOUS YEARS

Introduced last year for EFILED returns, the ReFILE service allows you to submit adjustments through certified tax preparation software to income tax and benefit returns that were initially filed online. This service answers calls from the tax preparer community for a quick way to file simple adjustments through software directly. It’s currently your best bet for getting reassessment requests processed quickly.

This year, the CRA has expanded the service to accept adjustments to EFILED returns for 2015 and all later years. Since it may take some commercial tax software vendors time to catch up with these changes, be sure to check your tax preparation software to see which previous years are available for ReFILE through the product for this year.

Also this year, the ability to use ReFILE is extended to individuals filing their returns through NETFILE.

NEW FEATURES IN REPRESENT A CLIENT

The CRA is adding several improvements to Represent a Client, the secure portal for tax representatives:

  • a new “List of notices issued” feature (replacing “Results of returns processed”) provides authorized representatives with a summary list of all T1 notices of assessment and reassessment issued to individual clients as a result of a tax return being filed or amended (for filings on or after February 2017 or on authorization as representative if later)
  • a new link will be added in Represent a Client under the "Review and Update" tab that takes you to a “RepID information” tab, where you can find the link to manage your log-in information
  • a new pop-up exit survey to gather feedback on your experience and satisfaction with Represent a Client (and also My Account and My Business Account)

EXPRESS NOTICES OF ASSESSMENT IMPROVED

The Express Notice of Assessment (NOA), launched last year, allows a taxpayer or tax preparer to view the results of an assessment and receive their NOA quickly after filing their returns. Last year, Express NOAs were available the day after the return was filed. This year, the timing is even tighter, with Express NOAs being ready for review and download through tax software shortly after filing. Since full assessments will arrive so quickly, the instant assessment results delivered in real-time on filing last year are discontinued.

The CRA has also enhanced the confirmation messages that EFILERs receive on filing returns. These messages now show what choices the taxpayer made on their T183 EFILE consent form, such as whether they opted to sign up for Online Mail or Express NOA. Note that if Express NOA is chosen, the EFILER or authorized representative can still view the NOA through their software, as long as they are authorized to do so.

Receipt of an Express NOA is not automatic. Consent needs to be provided on an updated version of the T183 form. Tax preparers will need to specify on the form whether their clients want to receive their NOAs by Online Mail, delivery to the tax preparer on their behalf through software, or regular mail.

As a final note on T183s, many of you were looking for written confirmation that it was acceptable to retain scans of signed forms electronically. The CRA has posted this confirmation on its website.

MORE PAYMENT OPTIONS

Now you and your clients can have more options for paying taxes owing:

  • You can pay with cash or a debit card at any of the 6,000 Canada Post outlets across Canada. Note that fees do apply. Before doing so, you will need to visit the CRA’s Pay by cash or debit webpage and follow a simple two-step process to request a quick response (QR) code. This code allows the bank to accept your payment and direct it to the right tax account. The QR code is also available on select T1 remittance vouchers when ordered or mailed from the CRA.
  • You can use Debit MasterCard to make payments through the CRA’s My Payment service.
  • You can set up pre-authorized debits through the CRA’s new mobile app for small businesses.

The CRA is pilot testing a self-serve option that gives EFILERs the ability to print personalized Form T7DR remittance vouchers. EFILERs will not receive paper copies of Form T7DR to deliver to their clients. Instead, the CRA will send the EFILER a dedicated, time-limited URL that links to an online, fillable version of the form to complete and print for their clients.

GOING PAPERLESS: NEW LIMITS ON PRINT ORDERS

As another step on the road toward a paperless tax system, in June 2017, the CRA capped the number of printed forms and publications, allowing you to order no more than nine printed copies in total (with exceptions for remittance vouchers that require special ink). The CRA is monitoring requests and contacting people or businesses who go over the limit through multiple requests. Requests that exceed the limit will be cancelled.

You can still download and print as many copies as you want from the forms page on the CRA website. The CRA accepts all forms printed from its website and/or photocopied. The CRA says this measure aims to encourage self service and eliminate waste by people and organizations ordering needlessly high volumes of paper forms and guides.

The CRA also welcomes suggestions on how forms and guidance can be provided more quickly and easily in digital format.

MORE IMPROVEMENTS

A variety of other enhancements to the CRA’s T1-related e-services include:

  • A “Tell-Us-Once” project that allows the CRA and Employment and Social Development Canada to share direct deposit information with Canada Pension Plan (CPP) recipients.
  • A new Account Alerts service provides taxpayers or their representatives with email notices, for example, in the event of changes to their address, direct deposit information or authorized representative. Taxpayers or their representatives will also receive an email when mail that the CRA sent has been returned.
  • A new “File my return” system, which gives some taxpayers and benefits recipients with simple returns the ability to provide information to the CRA by phone and have their tax returns completed automatically (participation is by invitation from the CRA only).
  • Coming in June 2018, the CRA plans to introduce improved call centre technology that will connect taxpayers and representatives with CRA agents more efficiently. The new system will deliver wait-time notifications, the ability to request call-backs and more efficient, national call routing. Helpline staff will be equipped with improved tools and training. Callers will be able to receive information about their accounts, such as balances owing and returns received, through an automated self-service option.

CPA Canada looks forward to helping the CRA continue to advance its commitment to enhancing the taxpayer and tax preparer experience, easing the administrative burden and smoothing the migration to electronic services.

KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING

What are your ideas for improving the CRA’s electronic services for taxpayers and tax preparers?

CPA Canada’s Tax Blog is designed to create an exchange of ideas on tax policy and practice issues, and their impact on those who practise tax. Your comments can provide helpful input into the public interest advocacy positions developed by CPA Canada.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of CPA Canada.

About the Author

Bruce Ball, FCPA, FCA, CFP

Vice-president, Taxation, CPA Canada