Many small-business owners feel the Canada Revenue Agency intimidates them and treats them like criminals, a new survey says.
Furthermore, the CRA gets a grade of C or lower in overall service from a majority of the 10,600 small-business people and tax professionals polled by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
"While CRA has taken steps to improve the way it treats small business owners, those efforts are being drowned out by poor customer service, including audits that some of our members described as witch hunts," CFIB spokeswoman Laura Jones said.
Nearly 40% of respondents gave the tax agency a D or an F grade.
The federation said the CRA has in recent years taken measures to make itself more accountable by implementing the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, appointing an ombudsman and giving call-centre personnel ID numbers.
But such measures are only effective if taxpayers are aware of them.
The CFIB recommends the CRA improve the training of its front-line staff and communicate in plain, easy-to-understand language.
"The payoff," said the CFIB's Corinne Pohlmann, "will be greater compliance and more confidence in Canada's tax system."