Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I appreciate the opportunity to participate in the committee's study of the supplementary estimates (B).
I am joined by two senior officials from the Canada Revenue Agency: Mr. Ted Gallivan, the assistant commissioner of international, large business and investigations branch; and Mr. Roch Huppé, the assistant commissioner of the finance and administration branch and the agency's chief financial officer.
Mr. Huppé will speak briefly about the supplementary estimates in just a moment, but I would like to say a few words by way of introduction.
In May when I last to spoke to this committee, I was six months into my mandate as Minister of National Revenue. At the time, I gave an overview of some of the measures outlined in budget 2016 to help the Canada Revenue Agency combat tax evasion and tax avoidance.
Now, having served as minister for more than a year I have an even deeper appreciation of the challenges involved in these activities and the CRA's other business lines. As you know, the CRA is a client-focused agency that exists to serve Canadians. I am pleased to inform the committee that the agency is becoming fairer, more helpful, and easier to use.
The CRA is delivering on the government's commitments by effectively administering the middle class tax cut and the Canada Child Benefit. And it is taking definitive steps to combat aggressive tax planning and tax avoidance, improve services for taxpayers, and enhance the role of charities in our society.
The agency has accomplished a number of objectives on the compliance front—both at home and abroad—since my last appearance. They are taking concrete steps here in Canada to crack down on tax cheats. The CRA is currently conducting audits on over 750 taxpayers and criminally investigating 20 cases of tax evasion specifically linked to offshore tax havens.
Recently, the CRA launched the hiring process to add 100 new tax professionals to its already robust audit team. These individuals will assist in auditing high-risk multinational corporations and unravelling complex offshore schemes to crack down on tax cheats. It is a strategy that will collect an estimated additional $500 million in revenue over five years.
As for service to Canadians, the CRA makes sure taxpayers have access to the information they need about taxes or benefits—on its website, through its call centres, or through mobile applications. To respond to the public's needs the agency has added resources to its telephone service and is improving upon the clarity of correspondence with Canadians.
In addition, the CRA is streamlining its processing activities and creating three new national verification and collection centres. Canadians will experience faster, more efficient processing of their tax and benefit returns and better handling of calls to the call centre.
The Canada Revenue Agency has also made a significant commitment to the charitable sector by engaging with key stakeholders. The government has pledged to further clarify the rules governing a registered charity's involvement in political activities.
To this end, the agency recently launched online consultations with the public, and starting next week, will begin in-person consultations with registered charities. This consultation will result in a better understanding of the needs of charities and help identify ways to better communicate the rules governing political activities.
It is clear, Mr. Chair, that the Canada Revenue Agency is improving its service to Canadians and acting on its commitment to crack down on tax cheats. I am proud of the accomplishments of the agency's dedicated employees. But there remains much more to be done. Supplementary funding will help the agency enrich its programs in a number of ways.
It will enhance the agency's efforts to crack down on tax cheats. It will fund measures to improve communications with taxpayers and outreach to Canadians, and it will implement and administer the new home accessibility tax credit for seniors and people with disabilities.
I could go on, but instead I will yield the floor to Mr. Huppé, who will speak to the details of the supplementary estimates.
Thank you for your attention.