Tax agency allows low-income Canadians to file returns by phone
Low-income Canadians will be able to file their tax returns by phone this year.
Under a new automated service called "File My Return" announced by National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier today, about 950,000 Canadians with low or fixed incomes that don't change from year-to-year can file their returns by answering a series of questions over the telephone.
People eligible for the new service will receive personalized invitation letters beginning mid-February. They will be able to access all the deductions, benefits and credits they are entitled to without having to do any of the paper work or calculations, according to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
Lebouthillier also announced that taxpayers who filed using paper tax forms in past years will now receive a tax package by mail this year instead of having to pick one up at a Canada Post, Service Canada, or Caisse populaire Desjardins outlet.
A limited number of the 2017 tax return guide and forms book will still be available at those locations.
"We know that Canadians lead busy lives and doing taxes can sometimes be a challenge" the minister said in a release.
"This is especially the case for people with reduced mobility, people who live far from service locations and people without internet access. The CRA is working to make it easier and simpler to find, complete and file a return."
The changes to make the system more convenient and user-friendly come as the CRA faces widespread criticism over service delivery.
In November, Auditor General Michael Ferguson reported on problems with the CRA call centres, where people either could not get through or were receiving incorrect information.
CBC News has also reported on several cases where Canadians, including single mothers, were forced to battle the tax agency.
Canada's ombudsman for taxpayers Sherra Profit also told CBC that service issues at the Canada Revenue Agency are systemic. Her office received almost 1,500 complaints about the CRA last year.