Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The CRA's Telephone Service Standard

The Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA's) telephone service standard:

"Our courteous and knowledgeable agents will be pleased to respond to your questions in the official language of your choice."

A. "Our goal is to respond to your call within 2 minutes."

B. "You may have difficulty reaching us during peak periods."

In other words, "B" nullifies "A".

Update: When I finally managed to not get a busy signal, and got through, the CRA answered the call within one minute.  Pretty good!

I wanted to know if I had to list each medical expense in TurboTax, or if I could just enter a total in TurboTax and append the spreadsheet I had already created (and include the receipts). The person I talked to said I could do that. The reason I did it this way: you can only use medical receipts if they amount to 3% of income; much quicker to first list the amounts in a spreadsheet rather than laboriously entering into TurboTax. Once you have the spreadsheet set up, quicker to just add the data like date, who-for, and what-for in the spreadsheet.


Frances said...

You can often get statements from the pharmacy (for presciptions), dentists, and other practitioners detailing your family activity for the year. The prescription ones are particularly good, as they list total cost, amount covered by plan(s), and what patient paid. Also, some plans are beginning to come out with yearly statements detailing activity. This is great, and minimizes the chances of missing valid medical expenses.

RkBall said...

Hey, Frances, I was hoping you would weigh in on this. The pharmacy idea is a really good one -- thanks!

Frances said...

Any time - and don't forget eligible medical expenses are for any 12-month period ending in the taxation year. You don't have to used Jan - Dec. So if your teeth go in November, have your eyes go by the following October, get your back straightened out in between, have your spouse follow suit, and put your kids in braces. Disintegrate rapidly and in sinc. Just make sure you have actually PAID for all those expenses during your designated 12-month period.

RkBall said...


I wonder if "put it on my credit card" constitutes "paid"? What if it's on the credit card account, but a person only makes the minimum payment -- is it "paid"?!

The Income Tax Act is TOO COMPLICATED.

I'm sending this return in "as-is"; it's my story, and I'm stickin' to it. Come and get me, CRA!

RkBall said...

The most important thing I've learned is, if you're late filing and you think you owe the CRA, send in a cheque by the due date. That heads off a lot of problems.

RkBall said...

I understand the bit about choosing your 12 month period, and I understand the logic behind it, but what it means is you potentially have to keep track of medical expenses over three tax years: this one, the one before and the one after, if you are trying to figure out the best deal.

The Income Tax Act is TOO COMPLICATED!!!

RkBall said...

I like Preston Manning's version of the new Liberal Tax Form. It was really simple.

1. How much did you earn?

2. Send it in!

Frances said...

RkBall - just get a ziploc baggie for the underwear drawer & stick all possible receipts re income tax (medical, charitable, children's fitness, etc., etc). In there. Makes life easy.

Most people, most of the time, use the calendar year for medical. The best one I saw that didn't was for a person in braces who had paid up front for the orthodonture in January of the year before the tax year. Went back to dentist for receipt, and used a medical year of something like January 18 (prior year) to January 17 (tax year). It worked.

RkBall said...

Hey -- I'm ahead of that. I now have a swanky plastic purple file-folder thingy that I throw all things income tax into, and then I carry it with me from Toronto to PEI to Toronto to Phoenix to Toronto...

Turns out I coulda skipped the Phoenix step, as my resolve to "get my taxes done on time" melted in the Phoenix sun!

Frances: skill-testing, stump-the-CRA-expert question coming tomorrow, stay-tuned!

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"