The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has resumed its full range of audit activities, including criminal investigations, after being limited to just high-risk audits and cases with exceptional circumstances since the Covid-19 lockdown began.
In an email to Investment Executive, a CRA spokesperson indicated that the agency is “slowly resuming more workloads and audit activities” after having adapted safe-practice procedures. “Auditors were given the tools they need to work from home and began working on more audits,” the spokesperson said.
The CRA said it is giving priority “to actions that are requested or beneficial to taxpayers; where taxpayers have indicated there is an urgency to advancing their audit; higher-dollar audits; audits close to completion; those that do not require in-person action; and those with a strategic importance to the Government of Canada, provinces and territories, or to tax treaty partners.”
In late May, the tax agency updated information on its website to indicate that full audit activity had restarted.
As part of other changes to its audit procedures, the CRA is now providing taxpayers with the option to send in information via email and will be offering additional time and upfront consultation on information requests. In-person CRA visits to taxpayers’ homes or places of business have not resumed, due to safety concerns.
The CRA said that its efforts to combat suspected fraud and other criminal activity are advancing, including fraud related to Covid-19 benefits.
Recently, the CRA updated its “leads” website to provide information to Canadians who wish to report suspected fraudulent applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit.
“Any individual or business who underreports income, or claims losses or benefits that they are not entitled to, including ineligible claims related to new Covid-19 benefits, could face serious consequences,” the CRA indicated.
The CRA said it has “safeguards” in place to prevent ineligible access to emergency measures such as CERB and CEWS, and will undertake verification activities where warranted.
“The CRA has records of who received the CERB and for what period,” the CRA said. “These will be used, along with tax slips received from employers and other relevant information available to the CRA, to validate eligibility next tax filing season.”