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Evaluating an emerging shift in how citizens transact with their government

Doing Business with Government Online

Business Problem

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) implemented a new web-based service called My Payment, a self-service initiative designed to allow taxpayers to pay their taxes electronically. 


The CRA identified the need to conduct qualitative research on the My Payment site to learn how members of the general public (using the site for personal tax needs) and business people (using the site for business tax needs) respond to the service: what benefits or drawbacks do they identify, do they find the site to be easy or hard to use, is the site clear or confusing


Laptop Work

In order to meet the objectives of this research, Ipsos Reid conducted qualitative research among members of the general public and among businesspeople.


General public participants were screened to include those who have made payments to the CRA within the past two or three years either on their own behalf or on behalf of another. Business participants were screened to include those primarily responsible for submitting payments to the CRA on behalf of their business. 


Two distinct qualitative research approaches were employed among these audiences, including:

  • One-on-one interviews conducted to test the usability of the My Payment service, including nine interviews among general public respondents and nine interviews among business participants; and, 

  • Six focus groups (consisting of eight individuals per group) conducted in order to gather feedback on the effectiveness of the language and messaging used in the My Payment service, and to solicit feedback on how the site might be improved. Three of the six groups were conducted among members of the general public and three groups were conducted among business participants.


Generally speaking, participants from both the general public and business groups found the My Payment site intuitive and easy to use.  However, they did not see it as offering them much advantage versus paying online through their bank. In fact, for many, it seemed less advantageous for a number of reasons. 


Few participants felt that the key advantages that they did perceive (immediacy, ability to specify the type of payment and make separate payments in a single transaction, a free service) were sufficient to motivate them to use the new service.  Most participants are happy with the payment options already at their disposal, particularly the ability to make payments to CRA through online banking.


One change that would make the service more useful in the eyes of participants would be if the service offered them access to their entire CRA account, including their taxes owing and payments made.


The results were a foundational step in the evolution of CRA’s online customer service from generic informational resource to a fully personalized, means of conducting business with the government. 

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