Almost 40 per cent of small business owners and tax practitioners gave the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) a grade of D or F for its overall service to small business, according to a new survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
When asked to grade the CRA's overall service to small business, the majority of respondents gave the agency a grade of C or lower, found the survey of 10,600 small business owners and tax practitioners.
"While CRA has taken steps to improve the way it treats small business owners, those efforts are being drowned out by poor customer service, including audits that some of our members described as witch hunts," said Laura Jones, CFIB's senior vice-president of research and economics.
The CRA does deserve credit for implementing measures in recent years to make the organization more accountable to taxpayers, including the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, taxpayer ombudsman and ID numbers for call centre personnel, said the CFIB.
But these measures are only useful if users are aware of them, the federation said.
"When you include the lack of public awareness about measures intended to promote taxpayer fairness, CRA still has a long way to go to improve relations with small business taxpayers," said CFIB's national affairs vice-president Corinne Pohlmann.
CFIB outlined recommendations to help the CRA change its culture and solve its customer service deficit.
"By taking steps that improve the training of front-line staff and communicating requirements in plain, easy-to-understand language, the payoff for the CRA will be greater compliance and more confidence in Canada's tax system, a goal we share,” said Pohlmann.