Act complements other means of access, so formal request not always required

Complaint: The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) told a representative of a taxpayer who was going to be audited that requests for information about that taxpayer could not be made informally but rather had to be made under the Act at the end of the audit.

Investigation: The OIC found CRA’s position to be contrary to subsection 241(5) of the Income Tax Act, which allows CRA to provide taxpayers, or their representative, with their own tax information.

Outcome: CRA agreed to waive the fees associated with the formal request the representative ended up making and provided training on this issue to employees.

Information Commissioner’s position

  • In line with the duty to assist and the principle that the Access to Information Act complements other means of accessing government information, officials should make every reasonable effort to provide information informally.
  • Access officials should include this point in employee training.
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