On October 18, the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, held a roundtable discussion with representatives of Tax-Filer Empowerment Canada (TFEC), an association of Canada’s leading tax preparation and software firms.
The roundtable followed the announcement of a joint digital services collaboration plan between the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and TFEC on September 27. Frank Vermaeten, Assistant Commissioner of the Assessment, Benefit, and Service Branch at the CRA, opened the meeting by underscoring the importance of the relationship with the tax software and preparation industry, with particular emphasis on electronic services, such as online mail, Auto-fill my return, Express Notice of Assessment, and ReFILE.
Minister Lebouthillier emphasized how the leaders in the tax field play a role in helping low income individuals file their taxes through a variety of tools and services. She also highlighted the importance of working and collaborating with the private sector to continually improve digital services for Canadians, including those in northern and remote locations who may not have internet access by offering targeted tax filing services and products, and making services more secure and easier to use. She spoke about how the work being done between the CRA and industry fits into the OneGC vision, a government-wide initiative which aims to provide Canadians with high-quality electronic services, no matter what digital platforms they use.
TFEC delivered a presentation that detailed the organization’s vision and priorities and discussed their upcoming work, which includes making improvements to their service offerings, and efforts to develop new innovations to better serve the tax filing needs of Canadians. TFEC also spoke about the importance of conducting market research and building on the relationship with the CRA. They also discussed recently-conducted research from Prosper Canada that explored why some Canadians with low incomes do not file taxes and access benefits they are eligible for. This work was undertaken in an effort to inform the development of effective solutions that will help increase tax filing rates among this population.
During the roundtable discussion, participants identified additional areas where industry and government can collaborate to assist Canadians to improve their tax filing experience and receive the benefits to which they are entitled. Representatives from the tax preparation and software industry discussed what each of their organizations were doing, and how they are working towards these common goals with the CRA. They highlighted the value of the joint digital services collaboration plan to push for new innovation and service delivery for vulnerable populations, for example.
The CRA and TFEC will continue to enhance their relationship in order to improve digital services for Canadians. They will discuss progress and other avenues of collaboration during the next meeting.