Considering that the Canada Revenue Agency processes over 25.6 million returns a year and collects over 4.3 billion dollars in taxes, it is of the utmost importance that Canadians have easy access to not only the tax rules but their personal tax information as well. This is where my role as a Taxpayer
Services Agent comes into play. During the last eight months, I worked in a fast-paced call centre environment where I answered nationwide telephone enquiries from taxpayers and their representatives on individual income tax-related inquiries. The core of my duties was to take calls and do the appropriate research from numerous internal databases and sources to determine whether to answer myself or to transfer the taxpayer to the appropriate department or individual.
The CRA team (through training and hands-on experience on the phones) really did a great job in extensively teaching me how to quickly research and analyze inquiries, as well as how to respond to inquiries in a professional manner as an agent of the government with respect, courtesy, sensitivity, and tactfulness. Looking back, through explaining and walking thousands of members of the public through rules and procedures, I feel like this work term is not only responsible for improving my assertiveness, but my oral communication skills as well.
In this aforementioned fast-paced environment, I was constantly adapting to change, dealing with stressful situations and highly confidential information. Although I have had some experience dealing with confidential information in the past with Statistics Canada and the Correctional Service of Canada, the CRA unquestionably is in a class of its own in terms of the volume and frequency of handling confidential information. I was more than impressed with the way that the CRA manages private information. No matter what the circumstance, the same stringent confidentiality questions are asked and if there is not a representative on file, even for deceased individuals, no account-specific information is given. Legislation (section 241 of the Income Tax Act in this example) is always present and it ensures that everyone is treated the same. This has definitely been an interesting learning experience.
Overall, through researching enquiries, providing a reference, probing, dealing with fellow co-workers and thousands of taxpayers, and upholding legislation and confidentiality, I truly found that the four CRA core values: Professionalism, Cooperation, Respect, and Integrity are not only instilled in the organization but in myself as well.
Beyond the Blog
This article was originally published in the Arts Co-op Newsletter in Summer 2013.
Visit the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) official website.