A new audit report has found that the Canadian Revenue Agency is struggling to answer a high volume of calls, often leaving Canadians with tax questions in the dark and without answers.
In the new report the Auditor General Michael Ferguson states that up to two-thirds of calls aren’t being answered and when they are, the information given to frustrated Canadians is often wrong. “We found that the Canada Revenue Agency gave taxpayers very limited access to its call centre services,” the report said.
Ferguson said the findings underscore his ongoing frustration with federal departments focused on their own activities “and not on the citizen’s perspective. “Government is supposed to be about service to citizens,” Ferguson said
The report also found that the CRA has tried to make its call service look much better than it actually is in various public reports, in part by failing to account for the millions of unanswered calls, Ferguson said.
In a single year, between March of 2016 and March of 2017 53.5 million telephone calls were made to the agency’s call centre’s. More than half of those call, about 29 million were not answered by agents or the automated self-service system. Instead, they got a busy signal or got a message telling them to go the website or call back later. Each caller made an average of three or four calls a week attempting to get through and even then, weren’t always successful, the report found.
The agency claimed that callers would rather get a busy signal or an automated message rather than wait long to speak with an agent, an assertion challenged by the auditor general. “The agency had not surveyed callers to verify this assumption,” the report said.
The agency has seen calls increase by 27 per cent since 2012-13 and has added 23 per cent more agents — to 2,482 — in an attempt to keep up.
Yet the performance of Canada’s tax agency responding to queries lags far behind the experience in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, which all handle calls in a more timely fashion, the report said.
Furthermore, the report also found that even when calls were answered. In 255 test calls by audit staff, Canada Revenue Agency employees gave incorrect information 30 per cent of the time.
The audit said that employees were professional and courteous but urged more quality assurance to ensure their responses to public queries were correct.
Read the full story over at the Toronto Star