Technological Change Committee

Minutes of the Technological Change Sub-Committee Meeting between CRA and UTE

November 20, 2014

PARTICIPANTS

Management                 Union

Cynthia Leblanc                                Madonna Gardiner
Josée Dussault                                 Doug Gaetz
Silvano Tocchi                                  Gary Esslinger
Tony Manconi                                   Brian Olford
Enikö Vermes                                    Roxane Gunning
Jean Stewart

OPENING REMARKS

Cynthia Leblanc, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Assessment and Benefit Services Branch (ABSB), and Management Co-Chair, welcomed everyone to the meeting and welcomed Madonna Gardiner to her new role as Union Co-Chair. She confirmed that she had spoken with the Assistant Commissioner (AC) for ABSB, and he had given her full authority to speak on behalf of the branch as Management Co-Chair. As well, Management had informed the ABSB and the Taxpayer Services and Debt Management Branch of the Union’s request with respect to notice. Specifically, to issue written notice of technological change when it would result in significant changes in the employment status or working conditions of the employees, 180 days prior to the change being implemented.

Madonna Gardiner, 2nd National Vice-President and Union Co-Chair, also welcomed the participants and said that it was a pleasure to be a part of the committee.

TRUST ACCOUNTS CALCULATION TOOL

Management explained that there had been a release of the Trust Accounts Calculation Tool (TACT) in October 2014 to address items raised by field users, such as:

  • Inventory enhancements, including a restore from back-up function;
  • The Trust Accounts Examination Officer (TAEO) User ID, rather than TAEO name, will flow to the Comments tab; and,
  • Locking and printing issues with the Automobile Standby Charge have been fixed.

In the upcoming months, the WIKI that was presently used to communicate with users would be replaced by a GCconnex page. As the program was moving into maintenance mode, other concerns and issues should be shared through the normal communication channels in the future, specifically, the mailbox and GCconnex page. Management said that this would be the final briefing for this committee.

The Union stated that they continued to raise their issues with TACT through the mailbox; however, they were concerned that they had not received a response on some queries. Two issues of concern had been raised at a recent meeting in the Atlantic region, specifically, that amounts remitted on a payroll account had been entered into the details page and then had disappeared overnight. As well, once TACT files were archived from a user’s computer, there had been instances where a team leader had been unable to retrieve the file. Management asked if it would be possible to provide specific details or accounts where these issues had been observed, so that they could look into this further. The Union agreed to provide more specific information.

ELECTRONIC SERVICES FOR BUSINESS

The e-filing of Partnership Information Returns (PIRs) had been introduced in January 2014 and if the current trend continued, it was on track to have a 20% take-up rate.

New e-filing functionality had been introduced in October 2014 for the electronic filing of Excise Duty Returns (RD) and the electronic filing of refunds for Air Travellers Security (RG), Excise Duty (RD), Softwood Lumber (SL) and Excise Tax (RE).

Given that there were no mandatory e-filing requirements and these services were adopted gradually, any reduction in the human resources required for Other Levies keying would be shifted to assessing and data quality activities.

As of October 2014, the electronic filing rate of T2 returns was 85.62%, up from 82.22% in October 2013.

As of mid-October 2014, CRA had received 307,174 T2 reassessment requests (T2 RAP), of which 2,431 were filed electronically.

NON-REGISTRANT IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM

Management stated that the production version of the tool for the Non-Registrant Program had been deployed in the last week of October 2014. A total of 17 employees had been trained in Summerside on October 28 and 29, 2014, and 14 employees from the Sudbury Tax Services Office had been trained on November 4 and 5, 2014.

The user manual was being developed and it was anticipated that a first draft would be shared with the employees using the tool in November 2014. The interim tool would be used until a permanent enterprise certified solution was developed and released in approximately four years. Management would provide the committee with an update on the enterprise solution at that time.

SECURE ONLINE SERVICES

Management provided an update on the progress made on the Secure Online Services (SOLS) initiatives. The e-Documents project had been successfully completed with over 392,372 documents received electronically as of October 18, 2014. There had been 479 submissions in Office Audit, 3,870 submissions in Benefits Eligibility and Entitlements, 2,861 submissions in T2 Corporation Assessing Review Program (CARP), and 385,162 submissions in T1 Processing Review (T1PR). With respect to the T1PR workflow, this number represented approximately 15% of all documents received.

The e-Pre-authorized debits, or e-PADs, had been introduced to individuals in February 2014, and 44,553 PAD agreements had been created by individuals within My Account as of October 17, 2014. E-PADs for businesses had been implemented in My Business Account in October 2014.

Management explained that 27,814 businesses had registered to receive their correspondence electronically. E-Delivery for discounters had been implemented in February 2014 and 506,926 items had been delivered electronically. As well, e-Delivery for e-Filers and Level 2 Representatives had been successfully implemented in October 2014.

E-Delivery for individuals remained on schedule for implementation in February 2015, and e-Delivery for benefits recipients for February 2016.

Management had not identified any human resources (HR) impacts related to these projects at this time. They would continue to monitor the HR impacts and update the committee as information became available.

The Union asked if Management planned to complete a HR impact analysis prior to the committee’s next meeting in six months. Management responded that they would continue to monitor the take up as new elements were introduced, however they did not anticipate that an analysis would be required before the next meeting. Management explained that fewer than 500,000 pieces of CRA correspondence had been received electronically and there was much more variability in the daily intakes at the tax centres as a result of other influences.

T1 Systems Redesign

Management explained that the T1 Systems Redesign project would make changes to the systems used to capture, process and adjust individual income tax returns, as well as the systems that maintained taxpayers’ assessment and accounting information. The scale of this project required that changes be introduced incrementally; annual releases were planned over the next five years.

Management gave an overview of the planned T1 System redesign changes that would begin in February 2015, with a new T1 processing framework. The System Generated Reassessment (SYSRAP) would be the first workflow on the new platform and no operational changes were anticipated at this time.

In February 2016, cleanly assessed electronic returns and most reassessments would be added to the T1 processing framework. Workflows for reassessments would be migrated to a new set of common work tools that would become standard for most T1 workflows and would include:

  • T1 Case for work management;
  • New systems for correspondence and reporting; and,
  • The introduction of an integrated T1 desktop.

In February 2017, the remaining assessments would be added to the T1 processing framework. Processing Review and Matching workflows would be migrated to new common work tools. The February 2018 release would introduce changes to reduce exception processing (e.g. oversized fields). In February 2019, specialized processing functionality and workloads would be moved to the common tools.

The Union asked which offices were represented on the project team. Management responded that they had representation from all regions.  

National Inventories

Management stated that they would be implementing phase one of the National Inventory Initiative starting in the 2015–2016 fiscal period, with a view to distributing electronic based processing or assessing related workloads more effectively across the tax centres. At this time, Management did not foresee an impact on field staff with the implementation of national inventories.

After the April 2015 Business Suite Release, certain Corporate (T2 - internet filed returns), and GST/HST returns and rebates workloads would be distributed nationally on a first in, first out (FIFO) basis. It was anticipated that this would more evenly distribute cases with respect to complexity and reduce the aging of these workload inventories. Preliminary development work for the addition of certain Business Accounting electronic workloads was underway with implementation targeted for the October 2015 Business Suite Release. It was not anticipated that there would be major changes to current procedures as the majority of the existing Standardized Accounting (SA) case workloads would continue to exist.

Management said that a communication and training plan was being developed and was anticipated to be shared in early 2015.

Individual tax centre budget allocations in 2015–2016 for the impacted workloads would not change as a result of this initiative. Inventory levels would be closely monitored to evaluate for distribution and budgetary impacts.

Management would determine if further workloads would be included in the future based on their evaluation during 2015–2016.

collection limitation period

Management explained that a limitation period had been imposed on collecting outstanding tax debts, which meant that collection activities could only be conducted within a limited time period, unless specific events occurred to extend or suspend the collection period. As a result, the Agency was required to determine and maintain collection limitation periods (CLPs) for the global accounts receivable portfolio, as well as extend or suspend limitation periods because of specific events and/or actions. This action had been taken as a result of a 2004 court decision.

The approved solution for the Collection Limitation Period was a Central Debt Expiry Calculator (CDEC) and building various system interfaces between CDEC and the assessing, accounting, collections, and other agency systems. There was no user interface with the CDEC; however, the CLP date would be displayed in the Automated Collections and Source Deductions Enforcement System (ACSES). The system interfaces would enable the pushing of trigger events to CDEC, which would calculate the CLP expired debt date.

Due to the high number of potential triggers, availability of systems and resources, a phased-in approach was developed, with releases as follows:

  • February 2015 – T1 family
  • October 2015 – Business Suite (T2, GST, Other Levies)
  • October 2016 – Payroll Deductions Accounting and Compliance (PAYDAC) and Non-Resident Source Deduction (NRSD)
  • 2018-2019 – Individual Credit Determination (ICD)

Since the permanent CLP solution could not be developed by the required date of March 2014, a transitional plan was established. Management stated that the transitional plan used existing technology to pull reports and queries in order to generate lists that could be shared with the field to ensure that CRA did not collect accounts that were expired.

Management did not anticipate any HR impacts as this was an automated solution that would impact existing systems and automated processes only.

garnishee macro

Management said that they were looking at implementing tools that would assist the field offices with some of the paper-based, manual processes. As a result, the Agency would be developing a garnishee mainframe macro application that would gather the required data from the mainframe and would prepare the paperwork for approval. This would expedite the process to better utilize resources and streamline the workload of the officers. This change was expected to be implemented in the fall of 2015.

The Union asked if Management anticipated any HR impacts as a result of the development of the macro. Management confirmed that they did not anticipate any HR impacts.

write-off macro

Management stated that the Agency was planning to develop a write-off mainframe macro application for amounts under $25,000. This macro would be used for specific accounts where collection activity was not possible, such as corporations that had been closed for more than five years, or taxpayers that were deceased. At present, these accounts tended to sit in the inventories as it was very time consuming to prepare the documentation for a write-off. The use of a write-off macro would expedite the write-off process to better utilize resources and would not be implemented until the fall of 2015.

CLOSING REMARKS

The Chair thanked everyone for the productive discussions and wished everyone a happy holiday season.

UTE thanked Management for the updates that were provided and said that they looked forward to working together.

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:  March 2, 2015

Date: March 13, 2015