Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

What Is the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)?

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is a federal agency that collects taxes and administers tax laws for the Canadian government, as well as for many of Canada's provinces and territories. The Canada Revenue Agency, or Agence du revenu du Canada, also oversees a variety of social and economic benefit and incentive programs via the tax system, along with international trade legislation.

Key Takeaways

  • The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) administers taxes, government benefits, and related programs, and ensures fiscal compliance on behalf of governments across Canada.
  • Similar to the IRS in the U.S., the CRA is Canada's main federal taxing authority.
  • The goal of the CRA is to contribute to the ongoing economic and social well-being of Canadians.

Understanding Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is the equivalent of the United States' Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The CRA was previously known as the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA) until the decision was made to split the agency's customs and revenue activities into two separate organizations in 2003. Like the IRS, the CRA is the definitive source on current Canadian tax laws, how they are interpreted, and how they are applied. The CRA collects taxes from Canadians and oversees social programs that those tax dollars fund. The CRA manages many different taxes such as personal income tax, business income tax, trust income tax, partnership income, and excise taxes.

The Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer is the head of the CRA and its Board of Management, consisting of 15 members, 11 of whom are nominated by the provinces and territories.

All Canadian citizens, as well as foreigners living and earning money in Canada, must file tax returns with the CRA and pay taxes.

Other CRA Duties

The CRA also oversees child and family benefits, including the Canada Child Benefit (CCB). This benefit is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age. The CCB might include the Canadian child disability benefit and any related provincial and territorial programs.

The Canada Revenue Agency uses information from Canadians’ income tax and benefit return to calculate the amount of CCB payments for which someone is eligible. To receive the CCB, someone must file tax returns every year, even if they did not have income in the year. Spouses and common-law partners must also file a return every year to be eligible to receive CCB payments.

The government pays the Canada Child Benefit over a 12-month period from July of one year to June of the next. Benefit payments are recalculated every July based on information from a household’s income tax and benefit returns from the previous year.

The CRA also administers the working income tax benefit (WITB), which is a refundable tax credit intended to provide tax relief for eligible working low-income individuals and families who are already in the workforce and to encourage other Canadians to enter the workforce.

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