Budget 2019 boosts CRA services for taxpayers and their advisers

Budget 2019 didn’t announce the comprehensive tax reform that Canada so urgently needs, but it does commit funds for enhancing tax services. Find out how CPAs stand to benefit.

The good news is the federal budget shows that the federal government is not only listening to the concerns CPAs have raised about some taxpayer service problems, but also devoting substantial resources to help the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) address them. CPA Canada has brought these concerns to the CRA on our members’ behalf through submissions and our joint CRA-CPA Canada tax committees. It’s great to see the government respond with concrete action.


For a few years now, the CRA has operated a dedicated telephone support line for tax service providers as a pilot program with CPA Canada’s cooperation. The budget announced that the CRA will expand the service across Canada and make it permanent.

With this service, small and medium-sized tax advisors can get help from experienced CRA staff on tax issues that are more complex and interpretive than those typically handled through the CRA’s general enquiries service. In particular, the CRA’s dedicated support line personnel can provide technical guidance on how tax rules work. Visit CRA’s website to register for this service.

Members have also told us that they would like access to more senior CRA officials to deal with specific client issues that they cannot resolve through the CRA’s online services. We are continuing discussions with the CRA on the best way to do this.


Currently, CPAs and taxpayers are unable to have the CRA confirm receipt of taxpayer requests or get a status update on their progress. The issue has come up in general discussions with members and also in a CRA-CPA “design jam ” brainstorming session last fall.

One outcome of the design jam is a CRA plan to create enhanced digital systems that would allow taxpayers (and their advisors) to track both the receipt and progress of their requests to the CRA.

The budget formally announced this initiative and devoted resources to fund the program.


Members commonly raise concerns over how long it takes for the CRA to process certain T1 adjustments. 

The budget announced more funds for the CRA to hire additional staff to deal with these requests more quickly. The goal is to reduce the backlog of requests that accrues each year and cut down the number of tax objections filed when issues are not resolved in good time. 


In another response to CPAs’ concerns, the budget allocates additional resources to help the CRA resolve taxpayer disputes more quickly. 

The CRA has already made solid progress on timelier resolution of low-complexity objections. In recent discussions, the CRA tells us the additional funds will help them reduce the time it takes to deal with objections that are more complex. 

We will continue to discuss the objections and appeals process with CRA with the aim of improving the system. 


In another welcome investment in taxpayer services, the CRA is getting funds to assign more experienced CRA auditors to its Liaison Officer Initiative. This program aims to help new small and medium businesses understand their tax obligations and already serves about 9,500 new unincorporated businesses per year. With added resources, the CRA plans to broaden the program to serve another 1,700 businesses annually. The CRA will also to extend the service to incorporated businesses.

Find out more about this program in our earlier tax blog post .


The budget’s changes will certainly ease some aspects of tax administration for tax service providers. But there are broader, more systemic issues with Canada’s tax system that the government needs to tackle. 

We will continue to call on the government to commit to a comprehensive review to ensure our tax system is among the world’s fairest, simplest and most efficient. Get information on CPA Canada’s research and thought leadership on this important issue.

Find more information on Budget 2019’s measures in our Tax Highlights release and other resources.


What more can the CRA do to improve tax administration for tax service providers? Do you think broader tax reform should be a top government priority? You can keep the conversation going by posting 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 practice tax. Your comments can provide helpful input into the public interest advocacy positions developed by CPA Canada.

About the Author

Bruce Ball, FCPA, FCA, CFP

Vice-president, Taxation, CPA Canada