The Department of Treasury Board and Finance has chosen to administer Alberta’s corporate taxes through its Tax and Revenue Administration (TRA) division, as opposed to the Canada Revenue Agency, which administers corporate taxes for other provinces except Quebec. CRA pays other provinces the amount of provincial taxes assessed, irrespective of whether it ultimately collects these amounts from corporations. Thus, CRA bears the credit risk if corporations do not pay their taxes. In return, CRA keeps any interest earned and penalties on provincial income taxes that corporations owe. In contrast, the department retains the interest and penalties on Alberta’s corporate taxes, but it also bears the credit risk.
Objective and Scope
Our audit objective was to determine if the department has effective and efficient systems to collect corporate taxes owed in a timely manner. Our audit focused on the collection of corporate income taxes, except where there is an outstanding objection by a corporation to the tax assessment.
The department has adequate systems to collect corporate taxes, but these systems need improvement to deal with the increasing number of outstanding taxes. TRA recently updated its information system to improve the way compliance officers manage files. It also added compliance officers to deal with increased caseloads.
The department should:
- update and maintain its tax collection policies and procedures
- improve its program for training staff in using its policies and procedures
- develop adequate performance measures to assess the timeliness and effectiveness of collections, and publicly report on its collection activities
- update its management information and periodically analyze the files to identify emerging issues and develop strategies to deal with backlog of files submitted for write-off and low value accounts