On September 17, 2015, the Quebec ombudsman, Raymonde
Saint-Germain, tabled in the National Assembly her 2014-15 annual
report on the public service. Complaints involving Revenu
Québec featured even more prominently than in past years.
Quebec's finance minister, Carlos Leitão, quickly issued
a press release that was sympathetic to taxpayers and demanded
an action plan from Florent Gagné, the president of Revenu
As reported earlier ("Quebec Ombudsman Lambastes Revenu
Québec," Canadian Tax Highlights, October 2014), the
ombudsman's 2013-14 annual report was an indictment of a wide
range of abusive audit, collections, and customer service practices
by Revenu Québec. Most of the problems identified last year
appear not to have been addressed, and the situation has generally
deteriorated. The report says that Revenu Québec's
attitude toward taxpayers has "become more intransigent,"
and the number of substantiated complaints has risen.
The report said that, among other things, Revenu
applied rigid interpretations of the
law, despite being aware of jurisprudence contrary to its position,
and provoked "needless court action to resolve disputes with
assumed that certain taxpayers were
guilty by association;
did not provide adequate information
to taxpayers in support of its assessing positions, thus causing
employed inadequate and even abusive
auditing methods and refused to consider taxpayer
statute-barred years on the grounds of fraud without any
individualized examination of the facts, and used "the
general description of the fraud scheme to meet its burden of proof
refused to admit and correct its own
mistakes (for example, it refused to take appropriate measures
to make auditors aware of their discretion to waive interest when
the agency's error or negligence had caused unduly long
generally failed to rectify the
shortcomings noted in past annual reports.
The 2014-15 report cited a large number of actual cases in which
Revenu Québec's practices lacked due respect for
citizens and their rights, including and in particular a
taxpayer's "inalienable right to be heard." Many
examples call into question Revenu Québec's commitment
to the principles of natural justice and the right of a
taxpayer to unbiased decision making.
In the press release, the finance minister said that he was very
troubled by the abusive practices highlighted in the report. The
minister also immediately summoned the president of Revenu
Québec and demanded that he submit—by the end of
September—"a concrete plan of action designed to
correct, in a structural and durable manner, the situations
described in the report and to ensure that the basic rules are
applied uniformly." (Authors' translation.) According
to the press release, the action plan will be released publicly and
will be closely followed up.
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