Technological Change Committee

Minutes of the Technological Change Sub-Committee Meeting

May 15, 2014

BETWEEN THE CANADA REVENUE AGENCY AND
THE UNION OF TAXATION EMPLOYEES

PARTICIPANTS

Management                              Union

Rick Leigh                                              Doug Gaetz
Richard Denis                                       Gary Esslinger
Tony Manconi                                        Brian Olford
Josée Dussault                                     Roxane Gunning
Cynthia Leblanc
Jean Stewart

OPENING REMARKS

Rick Leigh, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Assessment and Benefit Services Branch (ABSB), and Management Co-Chair, welcomed everyone to the meeting. He explained that Cynthia Leblanc would be assuming the role of Management Co-Chair at the next meeting in the interim as he would be retiring as of July 11, 2014. He said that he had enjoyed the congenial and cooperative discussions of the committee.

Doug Gaetz, Regional Vice President, Atlantic Region, and Union Co-Chair, also welcomed the participants, including Roxane Gunning as the new Technical Advisor for the committee. The Union asked if the new Assistant Commissioner (AC) for ABSB had the same understanding that the committee’s Management Co-Chair would have the authority to speak on his behalf. The Management Co-Chair stated that he would discuss this further with the AC.

ELECTRONIC INSOLVENCY DOCUMENT PROCESS

Management stated that the Electronic Insolvency Document Process would replace the existing paper submission process with a process where insolvency practitioners / trustees would send insolvency documents to CRA by email.

Initially, documents would be submitted securely using WinZip, however PKI encryption would be used in the future. The pilot would be conducted in the Edmonton and Montreal Tax Services Offices and if successful, would be implemented nationally.

The Union asked when the pilot was expected to begin. Management responded that it was scheduled to begin at the end of May 2014.

INSOLVENCY WRITE-DOWN / WRITE-OFF GENERATORS

Management explained that when collections officers wrote-off an account, they needed to provide background information and describe the actions taken. A template had been developed that provided functionality similar to a mail merge, that guided officers through gathering the required information from the system and generated the text required to summarize the information into a document (T1520). Once the document had been prepared and reviewed, it could be submitted into the Automated Collections and Source Deductions Enforcement System (ACSES).

The Union asked if the generator would reduce the amount of time that it would take for an officer to complete the write-off. Management confirmed that it would; however, no HR impacts were anticipated due to the large volume of work in insolvency. The Union asked if Management would provide training for employees. Management said that training would be provided.

ELECTRONIC SERVICES FOR BUSINESS

Management stated that the electronic filing rate of T2 returns was 83% as of March 31, 2014, up from 70% in 2012–2013. The e-filing rate for GST/HST returns was 70% for 2013–2014 at the end of February 2014, up from 64% in 2012–2013.

Further to the Union’s question at the last meeting about the level of the employees impacted by the reduction of 10 FTEs in the reassessments workload, Management responded that this work was performed by SP-04 employees. Management emphasized that these impacts would be offset by increases in the compliance workload.

Management explained that functionality had been introduced in January 2014, to allow the e-Filing of Partnership Information Returns (PIRs). As of March 2014, 2,668 PIRs returns had been filed electronically; a total of approximately 26,000 returns were filed annually.

Management indicated that corporations could request reassessments online (T2 E-RAP) as of April 2014. As of April 7, 2014, CRA had received 8,041 T2 RAP requests and 12 were filed electronically.

As of April 2014, business representatives could also electronically file RC59 Business Consent forms. As of April 16, 2014, CRA had received 104 of these forms electronic.

Effective April 2014, businesses could electronically file their Softwood Lumber returns and the e-filing of refunds would be introduced in October 2014. CRA received approximately 9,000 Softwood Lumber returns a year, which were processed and assessed at the Surrey Tax Centre. Management reported that they had yet to receive any e-filed returns. They anticipated that the uptake of this service would be gradual and one of the three FTEs involved in the manual keying of Softwood Lumber paper returns may eventually shift to data quality and compliance activities.

In the future, businesses would be able to update their own banking and Direct Deposit information via My Business Account (MyBA). No HR impacts were expected; however, Management was committed to providing updates as needed. Businesses would also be able to access their capital gains, losses, and business investment loss (BIL) on MyBA with implementation of this change planned for October 2014. New functionality would be added with further development of e-filing solutions in the Other Levies System, specifically, Excise Tax and Air Traveller Security Charge.

TRUST ACCOUNTS CALCULATION TOOL

Management stated that post production support for the Trust Accounts Calculation Tool (TACT) continued to be provided by the TACT group in Headquarters. Since November 2013, there had been two releases of the program and three communiqués had been sent to all users to supplement the WIKI updates and responses to questions fielded through the TACT mailbox. Issues would continue to be prioritized; completed items in each release would be updated on the WIKI and a communiqué would be issued to all TACT users.

Management clarified that TACT users had been instructed to direct all queries concerning the TACT application to the TACT mailbox as this was the primary support for any item related to the TACT program. The TACT group would also provide direction to the user should they require local IT assistance. This was an interim strategy while the group was working with the Information Technology Branch (ITB) to develop standard scripts and instruction for the use of the National Helpdesk.

The Union asked if users had raised concerns about the program shutting down when employees were in the field. UTE understood that some employees had returned to their office to reinstall the program in order to address the matter. Management said that they were not aware of this issue and would look into it further.

NON-REGISTRANT IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM

The Agency presently used the Registrant Identification Program (RIP), a stand-alone application, as a workload tool to identify businesses and individuals that had not registered for the GST/HST.

Management stated that the RIP application had limited and dated functionality, included manual processes, and did not address all business needs. The application was written in a computer language that was no longer supported by CRA and was available in English only, so it did not meet the Agency’s standards for language and presentation. A computer based inventory management system would be developed to identify individuals and businesses that the Agency believed should be registered for the GST/HST. The development and implementation of a permanent enterprise based solution to replace RIP would likely take several years.

An interim tool was being built for the Non-Registrant Program to use until a permanent enterprise certified solution was developed and released. The interim tool would address some of the business issues associated with RIP. An enterprise tool would provide the following functionality:

  • allow the Delinquent Filer Non-Registrant Program to better monitor, analyze and adjust the program;
  • improve internal controls;
  • facilitate program efficiency, resulting in more GST/HST registrations;
  • result in improved program reporting; and
  • reduce manual processes.

There were no human resource impacts associated with the development and implementation of the Non-Registrant Identification System, although training would be developed for employees using the system.

Management anticipated that a prototype would be developed in the summer, with testing planned between July and September 2014. Training material would be developed between August and October 2014 in anticipation of a fall release.

Management stated that they would provide the Union with updates as the development of the system progressed.

UTE asked if Management considered this a significant change, as set out in article 24 of the collective agreement. Management responded that they did not consider this a significant change as the RIP program was small and the changes that employees would experience were minimal.

PAYDAC RECONCILIATION TOOL

Management explained that they would be creating a macro to assist employees in calculating deemed trust claims and were presently developing the business requirements which would be shared with the ITB in the fall or winter of 2014. In the meantime, an Excel spreadsheet had been developed to guide collections officers through gathering the elements required for a deemed trust calculation as outlined in the procedures manual. The Excel spreadsheet had been released to the field offices and any feedback that was shared would be used to enhance the business requirements. Management explained that officers were now able to complete this calculation in approximately half the time than was previously required.

SECURE ONLINE SERVICES

Management shared highlights of the progress made on the Secure Online Services (SOLS) initiatives since the last meeting. E-Documents, or Submit Documents service, had been implemented for Office Audit and Benefits Entitlements and Eligibility in April 2014; further to implementation for the T2 Corporate Assessing Review Program (T2 CARP) in October 2012 and T1 Processing Review (T1PR) program in April 2013. As of April 15, 2014, over 177,000 documents had been received electronically: 2 submissions in Office Audit, 9 submissions in Benefits Eligibility and Entitlements, 1,665 submissions in T2 CARP, and 176,643 submissions in T1PR. With respect to the T1PR workflow, this number represented approximately 20% of all documents received.

The e-Documents project was now complete and Management would provide a close-out report to the Resource and Investment Management Committee in October 2014. The e-Documents solution would continue to be implemented for other programs throughout the Agency. Management would continue to monitor the human resources impacts and update the committee as information became available.

The e-Pre-Authorized Debits (e-PADs) project had introduced pre-authorized debits to individuals in February 2014. By logging into My Account and entering into a PAD agreement, an individual could now authorize CRA to withdraw a payment on a pre-determined date directly from an individual or business bank account at a Canadian financial institution. As of April 15, 2014, 11,383 PAD Agreements had been created by individuals within My Account. E-PADs for Business was scheduled to be released in October 2014. Management explained that there were no HR impacts to report at this time as the previous processes for payments had been automated to a certain degree.

Management stated that the Manage Online Mail Service, or e-Delivery for Business, continued to be successful as over 21,000 businesses had registered to receive their correspondence electronically. E-Delivery for Representatives had been implemented for Discounters in February 2014. E-Delivery for Representatives would be implemented for e-Filers and Level 2 and 3 Representatives in October 2014. As of April 15, 2014, over 400,000 items had been delivered electronically to the two Discounters: H&R Block and Liberty Tax. Management had no HR impacts to report at this time.

Management advised that the implementation of the e-Delivery solution would be accelerated, due in part to recent increases in postage. In February 2015, an e-Delivery service for Individuals would deliver the Notice of Assessment to Individuals that chose to receive their assessment electronically. The e-Delivery service would be expanded to other program lines, including Benefit recipients, beginning in February 2016. Management explained that this could contribute to a reduction in the quantity of CRA correspondence; however, the HR impacts were anticipated to be gradual, as any reductions would be directly linked to the take up rates.

TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE: COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT REQUIREMENTS FOR WRITTEN NOTIFICATION

The Union explained that they wished to clarify their expectations with regard to the requirement to provide written notice on issues that met the definition of technological change as described in Article 24 of the collective agreement and could have a significant impact. Article 24.02 of the collective agreement defined technological change as:

  • the introduction, by the Employer, of equipment or material of a different nature than that previously utilized; and
  • a change in the Employer’s operation directly related to the introduction of that equipment or material.

Article 24.04 of the collective agreement provided for advance notice, not less than 180 days prior to the implementation of technological change when it will result in significant changes in the employment status or working conditions of the employees.

The Union requested that Management respect the requirement to provide written notice in cases of significant changes to technology. The Union advised that they would be asking Management if an item was considered a technological change and if Management would be issuing a written notice when new items were presented to the Technological Change Sub-committee. The Chair of the Committee responded that while the Sub-committee did not have the authority to discuss issues related to the collective agreement, he would inform his Management team of article 24 and the Union’s wishes with respect to notice. He also asked that his colleagues from Taxpayer Services and Debt Management Branch (TSDMB) do the same. TSDMB Management agreed.

CLOSING REMARKS

The Chair thanked everyone for the productive discussions and recognized the positive working relationships that had been established on the committee during his time as Chair.

UTE thanked the Chair for his contributions and said that they looked forward to working with the next chair.

Original signed by

 

Original signed by

Cynthia Leblanc
Deputy Assistant Commissioner
Assessment and Benefit Services Branch
Canada Revenue Agency

Bob Campbell
National President
Union of Taxation Employees

Date:  August 25, 2014

Date: August 14, 2014