Do you know this man? Maybe you should it's tax time!
He's J. Paul Dube a lawyer and Canada's first Taxpayers' Ombudsman appointed to his position in February of 2008.
The Canada Revenue Agency (formerly Revenue Canada) has been heavily criticized in the past by both the courts and citizens for some of its heavy-handed techniques and approaches to conducting audits. It has been described as a collection agency for the federal government with police powers and an attitude you're guilty until proven innocent.
Mr. Dube is in the news because he recently released his first interim report. You can find all the information you need at the Taxpayers' Ombudsman website http://www.taxpayersrights.gc.ca/. Here's what the Montreal Gazette said about its first year of operation.
Clare L. Pieuk
P.S. Good luck with your income tax return.
J. Paul Dube, Canada's taxpayers' ombudsman, said that his office was forced to intervene in some of the 900 files it has received in its first year of existence, leading to apologies from the agency and in some cases the removal of penalties or charges against taxpayers (Photograph by: Mark Blinch, Reuters)
Tax agency collects mixed review
By Mike De Souza, Canwest News Service
March 12, 2009
OTTAWA — A new independent investigator gives Canada's tax-collecting agency mixed reviews over its handling of complaints about its treatment of taxpayers.
J. Paul Dube, Canada's taxpayers' ombudsman, has opened about 900 files in his first year on the job and resolved about 800.
Those include getting the Canada Revenue Agency to cancel penalties and interest for a man with a brain tumour who lost his tax records in a fire, and was not able to file his return on time.
But Dube and Revenue Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn noted complaints can sometimes be expected at an agency that handles 26 million income-tax returns from individuals every year.
Even with a 99.9 per cent satisfaction rate, Blackburn said it would still mean about 26,000 complaints.
The government will soon introduce a new policy for employees at call centres to announce their identification numbers, in order to: help taxpayers keep track of whom they have spoken to; keep more accurate electronic records; and scrutinize whether services were provided properly, Dube added.
"For me, it's important to humanize this agency, because the taxpayer, when facing this giant machine with enormous powers that could seize a bank account or house, (would see) there's a lot of power in our agency," Blackburn said. "When one has a lot of power, there's the potential danger of abuse."
Dube's position was created in February 2008 as an impartial officer who's required to keep an eye on the Canada Revenue Agency, reporting his findings to the minister.
Dube is scheduled to release his first annual report in December, and said it would more closely examine his own office's role, and any systemic problems with services provided by the agency.
A copy of the ombudsman's interim report can be found at www.taxpayersrights.gc.ca.
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