Canada Revenue Agency
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Suitability screening

What is suitability screening?

Suitability screening is the process of verifying the reliability of prospective and existing electronic filing applicants. It is conducted by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) every year before applicants are permitted to electronically file income tax returns on behalf of their clients. This process may take up to 30 days. To give the CRA enough time to screen all new and existing applicants before the filing season starts, we encourage you to file your application or renewal before December 31st. If we cannot process your application or renewal within this 30-day time frame, we will notify you.

The EFILE number and password combination issued to you upon registration or renewal may only be used for account maintenance purposes until suitability screening has been completed.

You will be notified by EMAIL when suitability screening has been completed and the criteria successfully met. We will also give you permission to electronically file income tax returns for your clients.

Why do we screen applicants?

We evaluate all applicants before, during, and after the filing season to:

  • safeguard the system;

  • maintain a high level of public confidence in electronic filing;

  • ensure all participants in the program adhere to high standards of conduct and integrity; and

  • evaluate the applicant's risk as an electronic filer.

We may deny someone permission to participate if our screening reveals a history of tax fraud or tax evasion. Subsection 150.1(2) of the Income Tax Act gives us the authority to evaluate prospective and existing electronic filers.

Screening criteria

An applicant/participant who meets and continues to meet the following criteria may electronically file income tax returns, provided he or she has:

  • not been convicted under the Income Tax Act or the Excise Tax Act or an income tax act of a province or territory;

  • not been assessed a penalty under the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act, or an income tax act of a province or territory;

  • not failed to file personal, corporate, GST/HST, or information returns as required, under the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act, or an income tax act of a province or territory;

  • not failed to comply with the requirement to pay, collect, or remit taxes as required under the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act, or an income tax act of a province or territory;

  • not failed to comply with the requirement to register under the Excise Tax Act;

  • not failed to comply with the requirement to keep adequate books and records under the Income Tax Act or Excise Tax Act;

  • no tax liability under the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act, or an income tax act of a province or territory, or he or she has a tax liability and has reached a repayment agreement with the collections section of the tax services office, or a similar provincial authority, and has not breached the repayment agreement;

  • not been convicted of an offence under the Tax Rebate Discounting Act;

  • not made any misrepresentations on their application or renewal form or in any correspondence, conversations or updates submitted relevant to the application or renewal;

  • not engaged in any activities that resulted in suspension of electronic filing or SEND privileges in a previous year, or that would have led to suspension if they had been discovered during the program;

  • not been rejected for EFILE in either of the previous two filing seasons (other than one that was conditionally rejected but later met the required conditions);

  • not or does not knowingly, directly or indirectly, employ or accept help from (or provide help to) any person who has been, or who would have been, denied acceptance into the program or who has been suspended from the program. This includes any individual whose actions resulted in the rejection or the suspension of a corporation or a partnership from the program; and

  • not engaged in fraud, dishonesty, breach of trust, or other conduct of a disreputable nature.

In order for the Canada Revenue Agency to perform the required suitability screening, applicants must complete the EFILE Registration Online form and provide all the information listed, including their Social Insurance Number, or Log in to renew their application. (Yearly online renewal is required for all existing electronic filers for continued participation in the EFILE program.)

We may still allow applicants who fail to meet the criteria to file electronically if we determine that the failure does not affect the application. For instance, we may accept an applicant if the failure was an isolated incident, was minor in nature, or occurred many years before the application.

If we deny your participation, we will send you a letter outlining the reasons for denial. You have the right to an administrative review. You can ask for a review by writing to the Chief of Appeals of your local tax services office. Include a copy of the letter of denial with your request.

Definition of applicant

For EFILE purposes, an applicant can be:

  • the proprietor of a sole proprietorship;

  • the members of a partnership (for large or national partnerships, the managing tax partners would be the applicants);

  • the directors, officers, and controlling shareholders of a corporation;

  • the managers of the branch offices;

  • the proprietor, the members of a partnership, or the directors, officers, or controlling shareholders of a corporation who hold a franchise (for large or national partnerships, the managing tax partners would be the applicants); or

  • any person having management and control of any of the applicants listed above;

  • any person who prepares T1 Individual and Benefit Returns on behalf of others.

A business applying for electronic filing may have more than one person who meets the definition of applicant.

An applicant, or any person having management and control of the applicants, must

  • be 18 years of age or older;

  • be a Canadian resident;

  • have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN); and

  • if applicable, be a discharged bankrupt, regardless of whether his or her trustee in bankruptcy is discharged (a trustee in bankruptcy can be an applicant only if he or she is acting for his or her business; a trustee acting for an undischarged bankrupt cannot apply).