Implementing electronic tax payments, filings and benefits in Canada

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Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) administers tax laws for Government of Canada and for most provinces and territories, and administers various social and economic benefit and incentive programs delivered through tax system.

CRA provides a gamut of services/ benefits to citizens and businesses who participate in nation’s taxation processes. Some of the major services and information are:

  • Income Tax ( includes personal, corporate and trust income taxes)
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST)/ Harmonized Services Tax(HST)
  • Excise taxes, duties and levies
  • Savings and Pensions Plan
  • Child and Family benefits
  • Business Number Registration 

“Taxation is essential for sustainable economic development, and tax administration is a basic function of a successful state. Taxation also helps make a government accountable to its citizens.”

The governance and administration of taxation pocesses is done electronically, and necessary applications infrastructure is in place to achieve the same. A brief overview of e-Governance services that CRA offers is presented below:

  1. For Individuals: Individuals in Canada have following option for filing their tax and benefit return:
    • NetFile: NetFile is a certified software product that streamlines tax filing process, eliminates paper-based process, makes filing faster and more secure.
    • AutoFill: AutoFill my return is secure service from CRA and allows partial fill of tax related information of the individual. Using certified NetFile  or Efile software, the information from registered user account is fetched. These tax information are collected by CRA from third parties and the most recent available information is populated. Authorized Individuals must make sure that the fetched information is correct before submitting auto-filled information.
    • Efile: Efile service lets authorized service provider and discounters send individual tax information to CRA directly from software used to prepare tax return. Efile benefits Canadians by cutting manual steps, making filing faster, accurate, paperless and providing ease of payment. Efile service provider plays a critical role in e-filing process here. All documents are verified by Efile provider. In case CRA needs to review, it may contact Efile service provider directly for supporting documents.
  2. For Businesses: CRA’s online taxation services for businesses make it efficient for business to handle company’s tax matters such as filing, paying and accessing information. The services may be accesed in following roles:
    • As a business owner: Owners can access GST/ HST, payroll, corporation income taxes, excise taxes, duties and other levies account.
    • As a representative of business: Depending on the level of authorization, representative may choose from list of services they may access on behalf of business.
    • As an individual business: Individual businesses can access & manage personal income tax and benefits information online 
  3. Tax Preparers: The Service Providers (SP) may register online as a representative of client, and once authorized SP will have access to most of client’s information and services available through their account in CRA (My Account). On behalf of client, service providers can:
    • Use filing services for business and individual clients 
    • Other electronic services such as Discounters, ReFile, AutoFill my return, information on representatives and tax professional et al. 
  4. Charities and donors: Each charity entity has to register with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to avail tax benefits. Charity information is publicly available. Utilities and services that CRA offers for charities are:
    • Charitable donation tax credit calculator
    • Business account management such as authorizing a representative, change address, access payroll et al.
    • Information services such e-mail list subscription, RSS feed, publications.

CRA has developed a host of applications and services to access the taxation benefits program for various entities. These include following:

  • Mobile Apps: CRA BizApp, CRA Business Tax Reminders, MyBenefits CRA, MyCRA
  • CRA Login Services
  • Several benefits programs such as Children’s Special allowance (CSA), National Child Benefit Service(NCBS) are available from CRA through its PKI infrastructure

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