Collaboration builds a stronger tax system

From the collaboration agreement with the Canada Revenue Agency to recent Serving You Better consultations, retiring vice–president, Taxation, Gabe Hayos, reflects on the power of collaboration to promote positive change in Canada’s tax system.

2017 is a year of milestones: it marks the 150th anniversary of Canada, the 100th anniversary of the Income Tax Act, and the third anniversary of the framework agreement for an enhanced relationship between CPA Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). It also marks my final year leading tax at CPA Canada.

My six years in this role have seen relationships between CPAs and the CRA steadily improve. Over 100 volunteers serving on CPA Canada’s tax committees, as well as other CPA volunteers, have tirelessly contributed their knowledge and insights toward improving Canada’s tax system for the benefit of Canadians and Canadian businesses. CRA officials have come to more frequently seek CPA Canada’s views as trusted intermediaries on a widening range of tax administration topics.

An unprecedented framework for cooperation

The framework agreement struck in 2014 solidified this connection. The first deal of its kind between tax authorities and tax practitioners worldwide, the agreement sets a formal process for continuous engagement and closer collaboration. Four joint CRA-CPA committees set up under the agreement currently serve as constructive forums for issue identification and discussion. A steering committee of CRA and CPA Canada leaders provides high-level guidance and direction.

In the past three years, these committees have opened ways for CPAs to provide valuable input on the CRA’s delivery of electronic services, tax audit experiences and streamlined administrative processes. Among their accomplishments:

  • a series of joint webinars gave CPAs and others first-hand knowledge of enhancements to the CRA’s electronic services, most recently in a webinar on ReFILE and other changes introduced for 2016 T1 filings
  • CPAs encouraged and provided input on the CRA’s new post-audit survey for gathering feedback on tax audit experiences from practitioners and taxpayers
  • CPAs worked with the CRA to develop and promote a shared understanding of the CRA’s tax audit processes through a reference resource to connecting practitioners with key sections of the CRA’s Income Tax Manual
  • foreign property income reporting requirements were streamlined following extensive stakeholder consultations and input from the CPA Canada-CRA Compliance Committee, while joint Service Committee recommendations contributed to improving prescribed form T1135

“Serving you better” consultations

Beyond our tax committee members, the enthusiastic participation of CPAs was key to the success of the CRA’s latest round of Serving You Better consultations. The consultations gave CPAs and their small and medium business clients the chance to share insights on how the CRA could make its programs and services more streamlined and client-focused. More ideas were presented through CPA Canada’s written submission.

The CRA’s report and summary infographic say the 2016 consultation resulted in an action plan with over 50 action items to improve services for businesses. In the report, the CRA thanks CPA Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce for hosting 21 consultations across the country and acknowledges the importance of our productive partnerships: “This report shows just how much the CRA and these two national organizations can accomplish when they take an active role to make sure the Government of Canada has an improving, evolving and world-class tax and benefits administration.”

With my successor, Bruce Ball, taking the helm of CPA Canada’s tax group on September 1, 2017, I’m confident that our valued relationship with the CRA will continue to drive tax system improvements for the mutual benefit of government, our members and the broader public interest.

Keep the conversation going

What more can the CRA do to make compliance easier for Canadian taxpayers and those who advise them? Post a comment below.

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.

About the Author

Gabe Hayos, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D

Vice-president, Taxation, CPA Canada