COMMENTARY: With great tax-collecting power comes great responsibility to taxpayers
In his 2015 mandate letter to the national revenue minister, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spelled out his expectation that “people who interact with the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) feel like valued clients, not just taxpayers.”
I will confess to having been fortunate enough to have had minimal direct interaction with the CRA. I was contacted recently by a CRA representative looking to clarify something on my last tax return. He was courteous and professional and you might even say I felt like a valued client. Many Canadians have likely had similar experiences.
For too many other Canadians, however, the CRA has fallen well short of that. And it’s not just the flowery language in Trudeau’s mandate letter that demands better of the CRA. The courts have established that the agency has a “duty of care” to Canadians.
It is understandable that we must bestow a considerable amount of power upon a government revenue collection agency. It’s necessary that taxpayers must self-report, and there must be a deterrent to doing so dishonestly. The CRA must also be able to pursue and hold accountable those who would attempt to unlawfully avoid or evade taxes.