Taxman wants to catch its own bad apples with internal snitch line

The taxman wants to know if any of his own are up to no good.

OTTAWA — The taxman wants to know if any of his own are up to no good.

That’s why the Canada Revenue Agency is in the process of setting up a self-snitch line.

The so-called internal fraud and misuse reporting lines would give agency staff a way to confidentially report any concerns about their colleagues.

“Internal fraud and integrity lapses pose a serious threat to the organization’s objectives and reputation and to the morale, productivity and well-being of its employees,” the agency says in a new contract document.

“To mitigate the threat, it is vital that the CRA takes all reasonable measures to safeguard the assets, resources, information and reputation of the organization from fraudulent activity and inappropriate conduct by its employees.”

Three Canada Revenue Agency employees were among seven people caught up in a sweep by the Mounties earlier this year.

Charges laid include bribery of public officers, conspiracy, fraud, breach of trust by a public officer and fraud against the government.

Since 2008, 15 people — including eight former Canada Revenue Agency officials — have been arrested as part of an investigation called Project Coche.

Back in 2010, The Canadian Press obtained internal reports showing the agency had trouble with employees who wasted their work days surfing the Internet, setting up sports pools, sending chain letters, promoting illegal substances, sharing offensive cartoons and running pyramid schemes.

But some staff may be wary about bringing their concerns to a supervisor, the agency says.

Others may fear their covers could be blown. There’s no guarantee of anonymity under either the Access to Information Act or the Privacy Act. That means any information gathered over the course of an investigation into wrongdoing is accessible — although personal information would most likely be blanked out in any documents released under those laws.

“Therefore, the most effective way to learn about fraud and other unethical behaviour is to provide employees with a variety of methods for reporting their concerns,” says the agency.

“These methods include phone lines, web forms, emails, faxes, regular mail and face-to-face meetings.”

This isn’t the first time the agency has set up a snitch line.

A hotline to try to catch people who may be hiding money offshore has been up and running since January.

The Offshore Tax Informant Program offers tipsters a cash reward of up to 15 per cent if the agency collects more than $100,000 in taxes owed. The down side? The reward money must be claimed on the tipster’s income tax.

There’s also a third snitch line that is focused on domestic tax fraud and pays no rewards.

The Canada Revenue Agency did not immediately respond to questions about the new hotline.

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