CRA and CPA Canada Establish Framework Agreement and Consultative Committees

On November 26, 2014, CPA Canada and the CRA signed a framework agreement that promises an enhanced working relationship between the two parties. The intent of the agreement is to achieve the two parties’ common goal of a well-administered tax system that will better serve Canadian taxpayers. This framework agreement is one of the benefits of the newly unified accounting profession in Canada: it is much easier for the CRA to work with one national organization than with the previous three national accounting bodies.

Created under this agreement is an overarching steering committee, which will manage this new relationship and oversee the seven committees that cover particular areas. The committees allow CRA and CPA representatives to meet at least twice a year to discuss tax-related matters and to provide avenues for issue identification and discussion. The committees will not be the decision-making bodies: the CRA retains the sole authority and responsibility for dealing with any issues that are identified.

A CPA Canada blog posting dated January 6, 2015 provides the following brief account of the focus of the seven joint CRA-CPA committees:

1. Services—returns, publications, electronic services and non-audit compliance programs
2. Compliance—tax audits, dispute resolution and general risk assessment tools
3. Tax administration—technical issues, administrative or other fixes, technical information
4. Scientific research and experimental development (SR&ED)—audits, disputes and administrative policies
5. Commodity tax—claims processing, audit processes, technical issues and fixes, technical information
6. Red tape reduction—clarity, redundant information and processes, availability and timeliness of information and communication with taxpayers
7. Training and learning—improving CRA auditor training programs

The blog post notes that progress has already been made in cooperation between the CRA and CPA Canada—namely, consultations to fix problems related to the current deadlines for T1 and T3 reporting, and CPA Canada’s first national SR & ED Symposium, to be held in Toronto on February 5 and 6, 2015.

The blog post links to a presentation by CPA Canada’s Vice-President of Taxation, which lists the CRA and CPA Canada co-chairs of each of the seven committees. The presentation also lists several bullet points for each committee that describe the committee’s focus in more detail. For example, the commodity tax committee will work on pre-assessment claims processing; the quality of CRA audit processes; the maintenance of required technical capacity; problematic technical issues and the availability of administrative fixes; identifying possible non-administrative solutions; the availability of technical information; and CRA-Revenu Québec consistency.

An appeals advisory committee, apparently established before the new framework agreement, is to continue its work, providing input on (1) appeals case backlog, (2) independence and impartiality, and (3) settling agreements and operational irritants.

Will this new structure of joint committees between CRA and tax practitioners be successful? CPA Canada has identified the following factors as critical to success: top-down commitment on the part of CPA Canada and the CRA; participants’ willingness to find effective solutions; effective changes resulting from discussions; CPA Canada’s influence on members’ tax practices; and inclusion of other stakeholder groups where appropriate.

Leona Liu
Ernst & Young LLP, Ottawa
[email protected]

Canadian Tax Focus
Volume 5, Number 1, February 2015
©2015, Canadian Tax Foundation