Canada Revenue Agency.
The Taxation Data Centre Complex of the Canada Revenue Agency in Ottawa. (iStock photos)

The size of Canada’s federal tax agency, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), has ballooned in recent years, while the size of comparable agencies in the United States and Australia have remained unchanged. 

Since 2018, the CRA’s headcount has grown by almost 40 per cent, adding 17,000 people to reach a total of 59,000 in 2023. By comparison, between 2010 and 2018, the CRA’s size had been largely stable, fluctuating between a low of 39,000 and high of 43,000.

The equivalent institution in the United States, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), had only 79,000 employees as of 2022, and has added a mere 5,500 staff since 2018. The IRS serves a population and economy that are both roughly 10 times the size of Canada’s. 

“Why do they have to hire more employees?” asks Franco Terrazzano, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a taxpayers advocacy group. “Everything is becoming more efficient over time as technology improves. The only place where we’re seeing things become more inefficient over time is the government.”

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Fin DePencier is a journalist, photographer and filmmaker based in Toronto. Over the past few years, he has reported on the ground from Ukraine, Armenia, Lebanon and Kazakhstan as a correspondent for Palladium...