The CRA Fails Test on Records Management

Of all Canada's government departments, the Canada Revenue Agency has been the absolute worst at deleting records - far after the time it is is supposed to dispose of records by law.

According to a recent story by CBC's Dean Beeby, the CRA has the highest volume of paper records among all federal departments and agencies. And it got a big fat 0 per cent score (this is not a typo) from Treasury Board on its management of paper files. The hard-copy tax files pressed together would stretch 241 kilometres, nearly filling a giant shelf from Toronto to Kingston, Ont. However instead of a shelf, the CRA spends money on a private company so it can keep the old paper in warehouses in Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa.  How much does that cost?

The CRA also got the worse score of any government department for deleting electronic files.  We sympathize - who doesn't have way too many emails in their inbox? But this is the CRA - the guys who are supposed to be in the know when it comes to good records management.

"In recent years the CRA has been cut more than any other government department," says Dennis Howlett, executive director of Canadians for Tax Fairness. "We know it has impacted their ability to implement modern and effective practices  - the frustrating thing is that the minister keeps telling us that everything is okay, instead of outlining where and how she is going to get CRA to where it needs to be."

The last federal budget earmarked $444M for the CRA over the next five years.  The CRA has promised that money will be used to fight tax havens and tax dodging which grew dramatically in tandem with the cuts.