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Leef defends Revenue Canada cuts

There has been a lot of talk regarding the closure of the Canada Revenue Agency's counter service here in Whitehorse.

There has been a lot of talk regarding the closure of the Canada Revenue Agency’s counter service here in Whitehorse. There are a few points I’d like to make clear to my fellow Yukoners:

* Counter service is being discontinued everywhere in Canada. I’ve heard of rumours being circulated that Prince George will handle all our “counter” services. While this will be true for a very short period of time (the period of time between the Whitehorse counter closing and the Prince George counter closing), it is important to take note that Whitehorse is not being singled out, and this is a change that our entire country faces.

* I have had numerous discussions with the minister’s office and the minister responsible for the CRA. I have brought forward the concerns that I and my constituents have with these changes. Again, this is a change that affects the entire country, not solely the Yukon. As such, an “exemption” is not necessarily possible for us.

* In my discussions with the department, I have been assured that continuity of service will exist, using various services that are already in place. I have been advised that the majority of interactions with CRA’s counter service can be handled by alternative methods.

A number of individuals and business owners have approached me with concerns that services will either cease to exist, or will be unobtainable by Yukoners. It is my intention to assist those who may not be fully aware of the alternative methods of interacting with the CRA.

Firstly, there are CRA’s online services. Using the MyAccount program offered by the CRA online, you can view the following:

* tax refund or balance owing;

* direct deposit;

* RRSP, Home Buyers’ Plan, and Lifelong Learning Plan;

* Tax-Free Savings Account;

* NETFILE access code;

* tax returns and carryover amounts;

* tax information slips - T4, T4A, T4A(P), T4A(OAS) and T4E

* disability tax credit;

* account balance and payments on filing;

* instalments;

* Canada Child Tax Benefit and related provincial and territorial programs payments, account balance, and statement of account;

* GST/HST credit and related provincial programs payments, account balance, and statement of account;

* Universal Child Care Benefit payments, account balance, and statement of account;

* children for which you are the primary caregiver;

* Working Income Tax Benefit advanced payments;

* pre-authorized payment plan;

* authorized representative; and

* addresses and telephone numbers.

And you can also manage the following:

* changing your return(s);

* changing your address or telephone numbers;

* applying for child benefits;

* arranging your direct deposit;

* authorizing your representative;

* setting up a payment plan;

* formally disputing your assessment or determination; and

* changing your marital status.

Secondly, most financial institutions have a “tax” service that allows you to directly interact with CRA business accounts. These services include filing and submitting monthly payroll deductions, submitting GST payments, as well as annual return payments.

In addition to those options, many financial institutions offer CRA related services directly at the teller window.

Further to that, there is always the CRA call centre, which is available to all Canadians, and which I have been assured will be staffed appropriately in recognition of the counter closures.

It is my endeavour to ensure that Yukoners continue to have fair, reasonable access to the CRA and their services. If any of my constituents have trouble accessing CRA services, whether they are for individual or business reasons, I ask that they get in touch with any one of my offices (which are located in Whitehorse, Watson Lake, Haines Junction, Dawson City and Ottawa), and allow my staff to assist in any way that they can.

I will be keeping a track record of any complaints or issues that my office receives, so that I may communicate these to the CRA and the minister’s office, to ensure that we as a government are providing the level of service that Yukoners require.

Ryan Leef

Yukon MP

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