The auditor has become the audited. In an interesting turn of events Canada’s auditor general has audited the Canada Revenue Agency and found it’s falling behind.

Normally, it’s the CRA pouring over our finances to find flaws but the federal watchdog reported this week that Canada’s tax tabulator violates its own “taxpayer bill of rights,” which provides every taxpayer with equal treatment. Discrepancies were often based on geographic region or the discretion of the auditor.

Among other things the report found: 

  • Inconsistent time was given to respond to requests for information.
  • Offering of proactive relief to taxpayers was inconsistent.
  • Waiving of penalties and interest was inconsistent. In some cases, agents wouldn't waive penalties even when it was the CRA's fault that taxpayers missed deadlines.
  • Audit completion times varied across the country. Audits of some of the more difficult files in one regional office took about 320 days while another regional office took eight months longer. 
  • Processing of results of compliance activities were untimely and incomplete. When taxpayers filed new information that could change their tax bills, answers took between three and nine months depending on the region.

The auditor general can’t force the CRA to make changes, but in response the CRA has promised to track its work better and try to resolve the problems by 2020. 

For the rest of us the 2018 tax deadline is still Monday April 30, 2019. Late filing or incorrect information could result in penalties … depending on where you live … or the mood of the auditor.