SUMMERSIDE – The Canada Revenue Agency is eliminating red tape to help businesses continue to move forward, says the minister responsible for the agency.
Egmont MP Gail Shea told members of the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce at their annual meeting on Wednesday, that the Canadian economy continues to move ahead but changes were needed to insure continued growth.
“The good news is that our economy is growing,” the minister said. “November’s job numbers were strong which means there are more than 900,000 net new jobs created in Canada since July 2009. Ninety per cent of those jobs are full-time and 75 per cent of them are in the private sector which is even better news.”
But Canada does not live a vacuum and is subject to events that happen on a global basis, she said.
“We know we’re not immune to what’s going on around the world,” Shea said. “Our economy will still be impacted by the ongoing turbulence in the United States and Europe. That’s why we continue to focus on the economy on jobs and on balancing the budget. It’s also why we put so much effort into opening new markets for Canadian products.”
Shea said business owners are vital to the success of this plan because it is small business that creates jobs.
But small business also has to comply with Canada’s tax laws and efforts have been taken to streamline this process and make it easier for business to meet the federal requirements.
“Studies by CFIB (Canadian Federation of Independent Business) have shown that red tape from all levels of government costs small business billions of dollars every year,” Shea said. “Billions of dollars is a lot of money, a lot of money that could be reinvested in businesses. Action in this area is critical to ensuring the most efficient use of your time.”
In October, the federal government announced its reduction in red tape plan and the setting up of a team within the Canada Revenue Agency to make sure the needs of small business are understood.
“We’re now making it more efficient for business to meet their tax obligations,” she said.
The CRA uses three national call centres to deal with businesses making it easier for businesses to receive prompt answers to their concerns.”
She said all call centre agents also have access to the latest information surrounding all inquiries, which further reduces delays in processing information.
There has been a major concern, however, with replies to questions by agents to businesses.
“One of the issues that came up consistently was that businesses would call CRA on a Monday, they would ask a question and they would get a response to their question,” Shea said. “Tuesday, they might call and they might get a different agent and they might get a totally different answer to the same question. Businesses were very concerned about the accountability on the part of CRA. CRA was very concerned about it as well.”
Shea said through My Business Account, an online service that allows businesses to have an account with CRA, she believes this problem has been solved.
“One of the features that we have added to this account is the inquiry service,” Shea said. “What we have said to businesses is if you have a question, you can put it in writing, securely through My Business Account. CRA will answer that question in writing based on the information given in the question and we will stand by the advice we have given in writing. This is a lot more security for businesses when making business decisions because they have this advice in writing.”