OTTAWA, ON, March 31, 2021 – Each year over tax season, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) receives thousands of calls a week from Canadians looking for help. The CRA has been receiving larger call volumes and are experiencing longer call wait times this year due to COVID-19.
In a tax filing season like no other, the CRA has introduced a number of measures to help taxpayers get the tax and benefit information they need. For example, to give taxpayers more time to have their tax and benefit questions answered, the CRA individual tax enquiries line will be open on Good Friday and Easter Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., local time, but will be closed on Saturday and Sunday.
The CRA knows that many Canadians have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and have introduced new measure to support Canadians during this difficult time.
This tax filing season the CRA explored new opportunities to enhance their services so you receive the best service possible, whether online or over the phone.
To save you time, take these steps before calling the CRA:
- Check Canada.ca: The CRA are improving the information on the Personal income tax section of Canada.ca to make it easier for taxpayers to understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on their taxes. The goal is to ensure as much information as possible is available online – such as information on what a taxpayer should do if they received T4A and/or T4E slips for COVID-19 emergency benefits.
- Check benefit payment dates online: Taxpayers can view benefit payment dates on Canada.ca. If they are registered for CRA direct deposit, they should receive their benefit payment on the scheduled payment dates listed online. If they aren’t signed up for direct deposit, they should receive their benefit payments within 5-10 business days of the scheduled payment date. Please allow this time before contacting the CRA about a payment.
- Try Charlie the chatbot: If taxpayers need a quick answer to a question, Charlie is at their service. The CRA are trying new technology to help Canadians get the information they need, when they need it. Since Charlie is still learning about the CRA, the questions they ask will help it become more knowledgeable and interactive. Charlie will make it easier for taxpayers to get the information they need to help them file their income tax and benefit return! Charlie can be found on the CRA homepage and many of the other web pages on Canada.ca.
- Take advantage of digital services: Taxpayers are encouraged to use the CRA’s suite of secure digital services to interact with the CRA and easily manage their tax affairs anytime, anywhere. These services can quickly help Canadians track their refund, view or change their return, check benefit and credit payments, view RRSP limits, and receive email notifications. Taxpayers are encouraged to sign up for My Account and direct deposit now to make tax filing, and getting payments from the CRA, that much easier and faster.
- Check CRA processing times: If taxpayers are looking for information on how long it will take to handle a request, they can use the check CRA processing times tool on Canada.ca to get a target completion date. The new tool uses published service standards and information selected from drop-down menus to calculate completion times for various programs. In many cases where callers are looking for information on the status of their file, this is the same information a CRA call centre agent will be able to provide.
- Check telephone wait times: Estimated wait times are now provided in real time on the contact information web page, as well as on the phone. This will help callers decide when the best time to call is.
- Create a personal identification number (PIN): Taxpayers can now create a PIN to authenticate themselves on the phone. A PIN is a fast and secure way for taxpayers to identify themselves when calling the CRA. They can set one up in My Account before calling the CRA, or with the help of the CRA call center agents after calling.
Callers may experience longer than usual wait times to speak with an agent this year. To help deliver the services that Canadians expect from the CRA over the phone, they have implemented the following measures this filing season:
- More available call centre agents: Throughout COVID-19, the CRA has seen a significant increase in call volumes. To help manage the even higher call expected demand during tax-filing season, CRA hired additional call centre agents to assist taxpayers with their tax and benefit questions.
If you have general questions about emergency recovery benefits, the CRA implemented a new additional telephone line at 1-833-966-2099. These agents will be available to answer general enquiries about these benefits, but will not have access to taxpayers’ personal information.
- New automated callback service: When available, this new service lets callers ask for a callback instead of waiting on hold. Callers on the Individual tax enquiries, Benefits enquiries, and Business enquiries lines may be given the option of a callback at certain times of the day and when wait times reach a certain length.
- Extended call centre hours: To give taxpayers more time to have their tax and benefit questions answered, the Individual tax enquiries line is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 9pm local time, and extended Saturday hours are 9am to 5pm. Additionally, to support individuals during a tax season like no other, the CRA’s individual tax enquiries line will be open on Good Friday and Easter Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., local time, but will be closed on Saturday and Sunday.
- Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) virtual clinics: This year, volunteers may be able to complete and file your taxes virtually by videoconference, by phone, or through a document drop-off arrangement. Since May 2020, the CVITP has assisted more than 170,000 people with the filing of their income tax and benefit returns. If you cannot file electronically this year, you can check if you are eligible at About free tax clinics – Canada.ca and seek a CVITP clinic through the national directory. Go to canada.ca/taxes-help for information.
information SOURCED via Canada Revenue Agency