The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is the government body charged with assessing and collecting taxes from Canadian citizens and businesses. The agency also administers various benefits programs for Canada’s people on behalf of the government. According to the CRA itself, the agency does this to promote the economic and social well-being of Canada’s citizens.
Surprisingly young, the modern CRA as it’s now structured traces its beginnings to an act of Parliament passed in 1999, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency Act. This act converted Canada’s previous customs and taxation entity from the status of a government department into an independent agency and charged it with all its present responsibilities, plus regulatory power over certain aspects of customs and trade. In 2005, the CRA’s customs authority calved off to form a separate entity, the Canada Border Services Agency. That agency now has nothing to do with taxation, leaving the CRA to focus solely on its current mission of administering Canadian tax law.
Parliament oversees the CRA through its agency head, the Minister of National Revenue, who must report to the legislature and administer the law within his agency’s oversight. Beneath the level of the Minister, the chief executive officer runs the CRA under the title of the Commissioner, and a 15-member Board of Governors helps with the task. The relationship between the Commissioner and Board of Governors remains complicated, but in general, the Commissioner administers the CRA’s day-to-day activities, while the Board of Governors sets the agency’s policy in response to the laws passed by Parliament.