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THE CRA BELLEVILLE TAX SERVICES OFFICE (T.S.O.)

  The Belleville TSO is frequently known as TSO ECO” which appears to be equal along with Peterbough but in some ways equal yet subordinate to Kingston and the line of command seems to be to & from Kingston (where the Regional Director is based) to HQ in Ottawa.  There appears to be numerous TSOs across Ontario and their exact relationship to one another is unclear. They seem to be in Groups. The entire organization seems to be furtive and secretive and CRA hardly seem to be open and transparent in their dealings with the Tax Payer (TP).  Which office, is which, is confusing and what exactly they do is hard to understand.  The Tax Services Office where we  file our returns is based in Summerside P.E.I. but there is another office in Shawinigan and it seems that the Appeals Intake Centre for at least Ontario is in Sudbury.  We are not sure if CRA publicly list the offices and their functions but it is not easy for a TP to find their way through the maze of this giant bureaucracy.

The exact structural role of CRA is set  out on Wikipedia. (See separate Tab).                         .

You cannot communicate with CRA Offices by e-mail or in person.  They closed down their front offices in all centres a few years ago so the public cannot access a CRA Officer directly.  The ground floor reception areas in their office towers look rather like ghost ships with counters and offices abandoned or unused, probably at great cost to the Taxpayer.  We have no idea why these personal front offices were closed down and no doubt they will say, it was in the name of cost saving and efficiency.  To us it is the exact opposite and makes CRA into a faceless bureaucracy reminiscent of George Orwell’s book “1984”.

CRA refuses to communicate externally by e-mail and the only means of communicating with them is by fax, letter or telephone. However, when you work out one email address you can guess the others. Unfortunately, they do not feel obliged to respond to faxes,letters or obviously EMails and if they do, it is sporadic and infrequent.  Virtually none of our correspondence has been acknowledged. CRA do not like putting anything in writing apart from Assessments, Demand letters, Requests for Information & the like.

Whilst you can obtain a telephone number and an extension you will most often get voice mail and if you leave a message do not hold your breath hoping to get a response.  If they do answer and promise to call you back, do not rely on this as they commonly ignore you after contact or voice mail. 

The whole system is hard to understand for the public and even lawyers frequently do not get easy responses to letters or return phone calls.  There is very little point in spending $500 an hour for lawyers to write letters if they are going to be ignored, as happens all too often. 

Canada Revenue Agency is a faceless, furtive & secretive organization and the personnel seem to have ever changing job titles and job descriptions.  It is the worst situation imaginable, especially for TP who are wrongly accused, with civil servants who frequently go out of their way to be unhelpful. We have found CRA Officials to be most helpful in the West & the East Coast Call Centres. Time your telephone enquiries accordingly.

The latter comment does not seem to be true of all staff in the Ontario call centres which are now supposedly the only real form of access by the public to the Agency and many of the personnel are quite helpful.  Indeed it was a call centre employee who advised us to ask for our files under the Freedom of Information “FOI” Act.  This is useful and for $5.00 it is very worthwhile to submit a request on yourself to see what “big brother” has on their files about you.

The application form is online .This could be the best investment of $5.00 you will ever make.

It is hard to understand why the CRA makes it so complicated for the TP and during our dealings with TSO Belleville we have found them singularly unhelpful. In asking for information on their allegations, we have been referred to the call centres that, as helpful as they are, eventually refer you back to where you started.  The organization, at least to the public, is a maze and if this is the PUBLIC SERVICE it is a far cry from other Government Agencies that you deal with when you are in business in Ontario.

Is CRA structured in this manner deliberately to be unhelpful? We do not know.  If it is as if they have succeeded in making everything as difficult and obscure as possible.

We do not know of other Government organizations that refuse to respond to letters, faxes and telephone calls.  We do not know of other Government Departments that refuse to deal by e-mail. Especially since this method is the preferred communication channel of our present day society.  We do not expect them to use Facebook, Linked-In, or Twitter as a communication tool. Simple e-mails would be sufficient.  Strangely though, some CRA officials are on professional development sights, such as Linked-In and personal websites such as Facebook.  They know how to use electronic technology but refuse to do so when dealing with Taxpayers. We have to wonder why. Is this to prevent a trail of records?  Please see further sections on this website where CRA are told to destroy some records at least. Is this democratic?

Indeed, they will not allow you to use electronic recording devices, even if you are meeting with three or more CRA officials.  Obviously, they want to keep their part of the story straight and do not want the TP to have their own record.  It is likely that every telephone call with CRA is recorded and they do use e-mails extensively internally. They also do accept some THIRD PARTY emails if it is beneficial to them.

TSO Belleville is a large concrete or stone building on Water Street in the old Downtown of Belleville which appears to hold between 100 – 200 people if not more.  I believe that the entire structure of the building is to intimidate and awe those that enter into it.  It could be described as menacing.

What exactly TSO Belleville does in its myriad of offices is unclear as are the duties and activities of CRA employees based in this building.