General Inquiries Line CRA

You can longer press the * star key to get a live agent after dialing 1-800-959-8281. Instead you have to choose from a long menu and eventually weave your way to waiting for a live agent. This is not an improvement in my books.

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I have called them twice this week. On both occasions it took me at least 25 minutes to get through to someone (after being told the wait would be 10 to 15 minutes). December is not exactly the highest use time for the GE line. I can only imagine how it will be in March/April.

Hopefully they will have more staff in place for tax season. But taking away the * key option, now that is irritating!


Ran into this for the first time this week. I thought I had made a mistake, hung up and tried again. Then I called on my land line and my cell phone. Estimated wait was 10 minutes on one phone and 15 on the other. Definitely takes longer.

I was told this long menu option will improve service by routing calls to appropriate person. I sure haven’t seen an improvement.

I had to call CRA on Monday morning, and got through quite quickly (less than 2 min.). But, yeah - it confused me when the * didn’t work. I guess we just gotta learn the new sequence of numbers to hit…:roll_eyes::roll_eyes::roll_eyes:

Threw me off also! I tried going through the menus two different ways and then gave up and pressed whatever. I will be doing a user survey everytime I have a chance.

I have written out the number sequence to get to an agent on my most common issues and taped the list to my phone.

It’s a pain, but I do appreciate getting an agent with at least half a clue when I do get an agent!

Hey @jglass, could you share what you have so far?
I was just going to start noting the phone tree list and whatever you have would be a big help.

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For me it seems to be - 5,4,SIN,1

As soon as CRA starts listing the options press 5. As soon as they start listing more options press 4. This will then put you in a queue for an agent.

The automated system no longer asks you for the SIN.

This is the way it worked for me today. Seems to be always subject to change.

I worked for CRA in the Calgary Personal Enquiries call centre in 2006/2007.

This is how things worked then. With some comments about how they may work now.

  1. CRA call centre seasonal worker training starts up in November with new agents going live in late December or early January. During December many some time workers take some time off. Others are involved in the training program and onboarding new call centre agents. Sometime between mid December and the second week of January the newbies are fully answering calls. There can be delays while newbies ask for assistance or are shadowed by an supervisor or manager. By early February most newbies are comfortable with the systems and frequently asked questions. Referral calls are transferred to specialized agents. My mid to late February extended hours are usually available. The best time to call during tax season is very early in the morning or after dinner time. If you need to speak to an agent right then, then keep hitting redial. Your call may be answered within 5 to 10 tries. If you reached a busy signal after 10 attempts, then try again later. If you are stuck in a queue for over 20 minutes then hang up and try again. Previously the queue hold time targets were no more than 5 minutes. After 10 minutes overflows were set into place. After 15 or 20 minutes no more new calls were accepted.

  2. Your call is routed based on your time zone. It is routed to your nearest call centre first. Overflow calls are routed to the next available call centre. Your hours of access to the call centres is based on the time zone from which you are calling.

  3. Each call centre manager manages the queues, inbound greeting, reach an agent option, etc. There are country wide greetings, regional variations, and specific call centre options. That is why previously some inbound callers had to press the pound sign # and others the * asterix or star key. Recently the greeting has changed to on the Personal and Business Enquiries lines. During the tax season many seasonal workers are added to handle the inbound phone lines. During this time additional phone lines are added. During this conversion period there may be some interruptions or down time as phone lines, queues, and overflow routing is updated and tweaked. There is one odd quirk. When hold times exceed the acceptable norm, sometimes the entire hold queue is cleared. In the past the caller in hold may think that they are still connected. However the queue has been dumped. This is also true around shut down times. The queues are dumped before that call centres’ phone service can be closed for the night. Other occurrences can be during a fire drill shut down or emergency training shut down. These happened once each for each site in which I worked.

  4. Call centre agents access the same mainframe tax files as those accessed by online Rep a Client, Rep a Business, My Account, and My Business Account. These mainframe systems are rolled over each and every year one system at a time. During this period those systems, some data, or all data housed in that systems are unavailable. Sometimes during or after the rollover some technical issue requires updates or patched to the current system. It is very likely that if you can not access the data online then the CRA Call Centre can not either.

  5. Call Centres. Phone numbers. First level agent. Advanced and specialized queues. Each and every year each call centre bids on the up-coming tax year’s workload. How calls are handled, by which call centre location, by which level or group of agents, can and does change each and every year. Be prepared that things will change.


Thank you so very much for sharing this insight,… from someone who has been directly involved.
It does help to put things into perspective… as we are all frustrated with the wait times, etc…

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Yes, 5, 4 gets you an agent to talk to about T1 issues.

The full tree for 1-800-959-8281 is:

1 - Issues with My Account
2 - Request forms
3 - Issues with registered accounts
4 - T1 Issues
5 - Other

1-1 What to do if you are locked out of My Account
1-2 To register, get help and other issues (AGENT)

2-1 Get an Option C Print
2-2 Get a remittance voucher
2-3 Get other forms (stay on the line for transfer to an AGENT)

3-1 Info about RRSP
3-2 Info about HBP
3-3 Info about TFSA
3-4 Info about other registered accounts (AGENT)

4-1 Info about your balance, how to deal with misallocated payments or to make a payment
4-2 How to get your refund
4-3 How to file
4-4 How to change your return
4-5 Other (AGENT)

5-1 Change your address
5-2 Register for direct deposit
5-3 Info about setting up a trust account number
5-4 Other (AGENT)


Having this tree for the personal tax line sure helps.
Does anyone have the phone tree for the business line 1-800-959-5525?


I spent a half hour on the phone to create that tree, just going through all the options. It would be great if someone else would do the same for the business line.

Here is the full tree for the Business Inquiries 1-800-959-5525
(not necessarily word by word)

1- My Business Account
1/1- If you are locked out of MBA
1/2- Help to register / How to get an access code / Other information

2- Business Number registration / Changes
2/1- Business Number Registration
2/2- Update business account

3- Payroll accounts
3/1- Taxable benefits
3/2- Other payroll inquiries

4- GST/HST accounts

5- Self Employment and Corporate tax
5/1- Self employment tax
5/2- Corporate tax


@jglass @Hugo

Thank you :slight_smile:

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Thank you everyone!