Tax Law Services Portfolio Office
July 2011

3. OBSERVATIONS – COMMUNICATIONS WITH LSU AND REGIONS

Improvements are needed in communicating to litigation counsel the role of the CRA LSU and the services it provides.

The CRA LSU’s role is to provide the client with legal advisory services and corporate counsel (e.g. for drafting amendments, revising legislation, issuing interpretation bulletins). The CRA LSU has 20 active service teams addressing such specialized issues as GST, excise, trusts, international tax, and tax collections. Although the LSU does not conduct tax litigation, each National Coordination network of the Portfolio has a representative from the appropriate LSU service team.

During the audit, we reviewed the Fiscal Path information regarding the LSU and found that more detailed descriptions of the role and services the LSU provides is needed. Although the service teams have been identified, there is no identification of the lead counsel and no indication of the specific area of expertise of each team counsel. For example, with regard to the 11 topics for which one of the service teams (the Confidentiality Service Team) provides legal advice, the Fiscal Path description states only the team’s role and the topic area. It does not provide phone numbers for the 12 counsel team members listed or a description of their individual areas of expertise.

Improvements in communicating to all TLS Portfolio litigators more specific information on the areas of expertise of LSU counsel would facilitate contact with the LSU.

The CRA LSU is ideally situated to provide assistance and guidance to Portfolio litigators on CRA contacts. It was also noted during interviews that improving the awareness of Portfolio litigators on the role and services of the CRA LSU could also encourage and enhance mutually beneficial contact between LSU counsel and litigation counsel.

Recommendation and Management Response

2. It is recommended that the ADAG and Senior General Counsel ensure that the role of the LSU and the services it provides are communicated to litigation counsel. (Low risk)

Agreed. The offices of the ADAG and the LSU have already taken steps to communicate to litigation counsel the role and services of the LSU. A presentation on the role and services of the LSU was made to the TLS Portfolio National Tax Board of Directors’ meeting on January 13, 2011. A similar presentation was made on March 22, 2011 at the Portfolio Retreat event, which was attended by litigation lawyers in the Ottawa office.

In addition to the presentations made, the office of the ADAG is currently updating the information about the role and services of the LSU on the Fiscal Path Intranet site.

Over the course of the year, the ADAG and Senior General Counsel will continue to develop ways of communicating the role of the LSU to the litigation counsel in the Tax Law Services offices in all the regions. For example, the next National Tax Training event will include a component to address this issue. Completion date: March 31, 2012.

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