The Taxpayer’s Ombudsman is an independent official, who advocates for taxpayers and assists with complaints.
The Ombudsman’s office will not be able to help with incorrect assessments or substantive matters. What they can help with, however, is finding a solution when a taxpayer’s rights have been infringed. In such cases the Ombudsman will investigate the taxpayer complaint and they will bring the matter up with the CRA. If a taxpayer complained to the Ombudsman’s office of an auditor who was being prejudicial because they were racist / sexist / homophobic / anti-Semitic / etc., then a complaint to the Ombudsman’s office would generally have the effect of very quickly having the auditor changed.
Being independent of the CRA, the Ombudsman has no actual power to make changes at the CRA or force them to take any particular action. The office does, however produce an annual report and offers recommendations to the CRA, which are within the exclusive domain of the CRA to act on or not.
Specifically, the Ombudsman’s primary goal is to help uphold taxpayers’ rights under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights by getting involved when the rights numbers 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, and 15 are infringed. And in terms of protecting these rights, the Ombudsman does a fine job. But it is important before seeking help, to understand what can and cannot be achieved.
In order to file a complaint, one can visit the Ombudsman’s website at www.oto-boc.gc.ca. According to the web site, the Ombudsman can assist with misunderstandings, omissions or oversights, undue delays, poor or misleading CRA information, unfair taxpayer treatment and poor staff behavior.
Once a complaint is filed, it will be acknowledged by the Ombudsman, it will be screened to see if the complaint falls under their mandate, they will then examine the matter and conduct a fair and impartial investigation, and then they will provide the CRA with recommendations and the taxpayer with details as to the outcome.
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