Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP) Changes March 1st, 2018.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) have announced that effective March 1, 2018, changes will be made to the Voluntary Disclosures Program to narrow its eligibility criteria.

What is the Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP)?

The VDP provides Canadians a second chance to change a tax return which has been previously filed with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), OR to file a return(s) which you should have filed with the CRA.

Your application under the VDP – if approved – allows you to file or amend a return without the CRA prosecuting you, or assessing penalties.

Who Can Apply?

Taxpayers!

Taxpayers can be;
• Individuals
• Employers
• Corporations
• Partnerships
• Trusts
• GST/HST registrant / claimants
• Registered exporter of softwood lumber products

You can apply, or you can have an authorized representative – like an accountant, or tax professional like inTAXicating, submit the application on your behalf.

How Many Times Can You Apply?

The CRA would prefer you use VDP once and stay up-to-date on filings from that point onwards, however should circumstances warrant it, you can apply again.

Conditions of a Valid Application

To qualify for relief, the application must:
• Be voluntary – You come to the CRA before the CRA gets to you.
• Be complete – You cannot file for one year, for example, you have to file everything and disclose everything.
• Penalty: Involve the application or potential application of a penalty and, for GST/HST applications, the application or potential application of a penalty or interest
• Time: Include information that is at least one year past due for income tax applications and, for GST/HST applications, at least one reporting period past due; and
• Include payment of the estimated tax owing.

The Process

Submit an application to the CRA, and if the CRA approves it, the returns in question are filed or amended and there is no penalties or fear of prosecution (unless you are engaged in criminal activities).

The CRA then expects you to pay the balance owing – or make arrangements to pay – because while there is no penalties, there is still interest accruing on the account.

* The above information applies until February 28, 2018.

The CRA will update their VDP guidelines as of March 1, 2018, so in order to be considered under the existing VDP, the CRA must receive your application, including your name, on or before February 28, 2018.

What Changes March 1st, 2018? 

On March 1, 2018, when the new VDP comes into effect, it narrows the eligibility criteria to access the Program and imposes additional conditions on applicants, making it more difficult for those who intentionally avoid their tax obligations to benefit from the VDP.

Income Tax Disclosures

With the changes to the program, two tracks will be created for income tax disclosures:

1. Limited Program

The Limited Program provides limited relief for applications that disclose non-compliance where the facts suggest that there is an element of intentional conduct on the part of the taxpayer or a closely related party.

Under the Limited Program, taxpayers will not be referred for criminal prosecution with respect to the disclosure and will not be charged gross negligence penalties, however, they will be charged other penalties and interest as applicable.

2. General Program

Under the General Program, taxpayers will not be charged penalties and will not be referred for criminal prosecution related to the information being disclosed. The CRA will provide partial interest relief for years preceding the three most recent years of returns required to be filed.

GST/HST, excise tax, excise duty, softwood lumber products export charge and air travellers security charge disclosures

For GST/HST, excise tax, excise duty, softwood lumber products export charge and air travellers security charge disclosures, three categories will be created:

1. Wash Transactions

Wash transactions are generally transactions where a supplier has failed to charge and collect GST/HST from a registrant entitled to a full input tax credit. This category provides relief only for applications involving GST/HST “wash transactions” that are eligible for a reduction of penalty and interest under the policy set out in GST/HST Memorandum 16.3.1, Reduction of Penalty and Interest in Wash Transaction Situations.

Registrants will not be charged penalties nor interest and will not be referred for criminal prosecution related to the information being disclosed.

A registrant must now disclose information on any non-compliance during the four years before the application is filed.

2. Limited Program

This category provides limited relief for applications that disclose non-compliance where the facts suggest that there is an element of intentional conduct on the part of the registrant or a closely related party.

Under the Limited Program, registrants will not be referred for criminal prosecution with respect to the disclosure and will not be charged a gross negligence penalty, however, they will be charged other penalties and interest as applicable.

3. General Program

All of cases fall under the General Program where registrants will not be charged penalties and will not be referred for criminal prosecution related to the information being disclosed.

The CRA will provide partial interest relief and a registrant must now disclose information on any non-compliance during the four years before the application is filed.

How to Determine if a Disclosure Falls under the General or Limited Program?

For both income tax and GST/HST disclosures, the determination of whether an application should be processed under the General or Limited Program will be made on a case-by-case basis and in doing so, the CRA may consider a number of factors, including but not limited to:
• The dollar amounts involved;
• The number of years of non-compliance; and
• The sophistication of the taxpayer/registrant.

Other Significant Changes to the VDP

1. Payment

Payment of estimated taxes owing: Payment of the estimated taxes owing will be required as a condition to qualify for the program (When a taxpayer does not have the ability to make payment at the time of filing the VDP application, they may request to be considered for a payment arrangement.)

2. Anonymous Disclosures Eliminated

The “no-names” disclosure method has been eliminated and replaced by a new pre-disclosure discussion service.

The process for taxpayers and authorized representatives to make disclosures on a no-names basis has been eliminated. Under the new “pre-disclosure discussion” service, taxpayers or their authorized representatives can have a conversation with a CRA official on an anonymous basis, but that discussion does not constitute acceptance into the VDP.

3. Large Corporations

Generally, applications by corporations with gross revenue in excess of $250 million in at least two of their last five taxation years, and any related entities, will be considered under the Limited Program.

4. Transfer-Pricing

Due to the complexity of transfer pricing issues, applications will now be referred to a specialized Transfer Pricing Review Committee, which will review the applications instead of the VDP.

For efficiency, taxpayers may send their applications directly to this committee.

5. Review by Specialists

Applications involving complex issues or large dollar amounts will be reviewed for completeness by the relevant specialist from the program area prior to being accepted.

6. Disclosure of Advisors

The name of the advisor who assisted with the non-compliance should now be included in the application.

7. Cancellation of Previous Relief

The new VDP regulations provide the CRA with the ability to cancel relief which was previous provided to a taxpayer if it is subsequently discovered that a taxpayer’s application was not complete due to a misrepresentation.

8. Mandatory Waiver of Rights of Objection and Appeal

Under the Limited Program, participants will have to sign a waiver of their right to object and appeal in relation to the specific issue disclosed.

 

If you need assistance with a Voluntary Disclosure – at any time – we can help!

Email: info@intaxicating.ca

On the phone: 416.833.1581 (If you are outside of Toronto, and would like to speak to us live, please email us, and we will gladly call you at your convenience)

On our website: http://www.intaxicating.ca (Portal coming soon – currently under construction).

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Statute of Limitations for Tax Debt: Canada

Statute of Limitations for CRA Debts – Truth vs Myth

There is a common belief that there is a statute of limitations on tax debts and that taxpayers can ride out these periods and ultimately pay no taxes.  Google it, and you will see all kinds of information out there, but it’s the Canada Revenue Agencies information which matters the most.

A Collections Limitation Period (CLP) is the time in which the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) can begin actions to collect a tax debt.

Myth: After the CRA issues a notice of assessment, it has either 6 years or 10 years to collect the debt. If you don’t pay what you owe within that time, the CRA can no longer collect the debt.

Fact: Each tax debt has a 6 or 10 year collections limitation period (depending on the tax) and the limitation period can be restarted or extended by the CRA when certain events occur.  At that point, the total amount of time that the CRA has to collect the debt will be longer than 6 or 10 years.

Even after the collections limitation period ends, you can still have a tax debt and interest will continue to accrue until the tax debt is paid in full.

 

Start of the collections limitation period

The limitation period starts on the date that a notice of assessment or reassessment is sent, or 90 days after that date, depending on the type of tax debt.

 

Types of tax debt

The collections limitation period start date and duration will be different depending on the type of tax debt. Some tax debts are subject to collections restrictions, while others are not.

The following are some of the most common types of tax debt:

 

Individual (T1)

The Collections Limitation Period (CLP) starts on the 91st day after the CRA issues the notice of assessment – unless there is an objection filed.  There is a 10-year CLP on T1 debts which can be re-started and extended by the CRA.

 

Corporate (T2)

The CLP starts on the 91st day after a notice of assessment or reassessment is sent unless a NOA or appeal has been filed.  The 10-year CLP applies, however the CLP can be restarted and extended.

 

Large Corporations (as defined by the Income Tax Act)

The CLP starts on the 91st day after a NOA or reassessment is sent.   The 10-year CLP applies, however, the CLP can be restarted and extended.

This type of tax debt is subject to a 90-day collection restriction for the period after a notice of assessment or reassessment is sent, however, the CRA can act to collect 50% of the amount owing by a large corporation as soon as a notice of assessment or reassessment is sent.  The CRA can start collection action on the 91st day for the remaining 50% of the amounts owed by a large corporation, unless a notice of objection or appeal is filed.

 

Payroll (T4) Deductions

The CLP starts the day after the Notice of Assessment is sent.  There is a 6-year collections limitation period, however this CLP can be restarted and extended at any time.

NOTE: There is no collections restriction on Trust funds, so the CRA can begin collections actions the day after a Notice of Assessment has been sent.

NOTE: If a Notice of Objection or an appeal has been filed, the CRA can continue to collect the debt(s)

 

GST/HST

The Collections Limitation Period starts the day after the Notice of Assessment is sent and while the 10-year CLP applies, it can be re-started and extended at any time.

NOTE: Additionally, since GST/HST are also Trust Funds (funds held in trust for the Crown), there is no collection restriction once the Notice of Assessment has been sent.

NOTE: If a Notice of Objection or appeal is filed, the CRA can continue to collect the debt(s).

 

Collection Restriction Period

For tax debts subject to collection restrictions, the CRA cannot start collection action:

  • during the 90 days after a notice of assessment or reassessment is sent
  • during the time that you dispute your debt by filing a notice of objection or appeal

However, if the CRA determines that it might not be able to collect a tax debt because of collection restrictions, it can apply to the Federal Court (Canada) for a jeopardy order.  If granted, this order will let the CRA take collection action immediately.

 

Restart of the collections limitation period

The limitation period is restarted when either you or the CRA takes certain actions. Tax debts subject to the 6-year limitation period are restarted for another 6 years and tax debts subject to the 10-year limitation are restarted for another 10 years.

The following are examples of actions that will restart the collections limitation period. This is not a complete list.

 

Actions you initiate

The collections limitation period will restart when you:

  • Make a voluntary payment
  • Write a letter to the CRA proposing a payment arrangement
  • Offer to provide security instead of paying the amount owed
  • Make a written request for a reassessment of an amount assessed
  • File a notice of objection with the CRA
  • File an appeal with the Tax Court of Canada
  • Ask the CRA if you can make pre-authorized debt payments

 

Actions the CRA initiates

The CRA takes various actions to collect tax debts when taxpayers don’t make voluntary payments.

The collections limitation period will restart when the CRA:

  • Issues a garnishment or statutory set-off to collect an outstanding tax debt when you don’t make voluntary payments
  • Applies a refundable credit to your tax debt and notifies you by sending a letter or Statement Of Account
  • Issues a NOA or reassessment against a third party for amounts you owe
  • Certifies your tax debt in the Federal Court of Canada
  • Initiates seizure and sale action to collect your outstanding tax debt

 

Extension of the collections limitation period

The events listed below can extend the collections limitation period. When this happens, the clock stops running on the date that an event begins and it will not run during the event.

This has the effect of stalling the collections limitation period.

When the event is completed, the collections limitation period resumes where it left off.

Other events can then restart the limitation period.  It will end when the 6‑year or 10-year limit has been reached, even if it took more years than that to reach that limit if you include the stalled time.

The following events can extend the collections limitation period:

  • You file an assignment (bankruptcy or proposal) under the BIA, CCAA or FDMA.
  • The CRA accepts security instead of payment of a tax debt.
  • You become a non-resident of Canada after the CRA issues a NOA or reassessment.
  • The CRA postpones collection action without accepting security for an objected or appealed GST/HST debt. This applies only to GST/HST tax debts assessed under the Excise Tax Act.
  • You file a Notice of Objection with the CRA. This will extend the limitation period only for tax debts subject to collection restrictions.
  • You file an appeal with the Tax Court of Canada. This will extend the limitation period only for tax debts subject to collection restrictions.

 

NOTE: Filing a Notice of Objection with the CRA or an appeal with the Tax Court of Canada will restart the collections limitation period for all types of tax debts because both of these actions are considered acknowledgments of debt.

Similarly, if your tax debt is subject to collection restrictions, filing an objection or appeal will extend the collections limitation period.

 

End of the collections limitation period

Once the period ends, the CRA cannot take any further action to collect the debt, however, the tax debt still exists and you can make voluntary payments.  Voluntary payments you make after the limitation period ends will not restart it.

Full Disclosure Alert: Know Who You Are Dealing With!!

I had the most interesting comment sent to me today, by someone who used to work at the CRA.

She noticed on my blog, and on social media, that I “claimed” to have been a “Former CRA Employee of the Year” and she, having worked at the CRA, was not familiar with the award.

She questioned my legitimacy!

I love it.

It reminded me that I had not finished updating the “About Us” section on the inTAXicating website, and in doing so, I will include the details of this honour.

I was nominated for the “Most Valuable Player” award – which was the wording they used for the Employee of the Year – by a colleague of mine in 2002.

The nomination was his acknowledgement that I went way above and beyond the scope of my employment not only professionally but personally to support my colleagues, staff and to represent the CRA in a positive manner.

This was before my MBA, and before children.

I had recently started a Mentoring Program for the Collections division at our CRA office and the program was so successful, that we began running it through the rest of the departments in our building and in other Tax Services Offices. I was also responsible for overseeing the Write Off inventory, managing a New Intake collections / compliance team, heavily into training staff and had recently taken over the Director’s Liability inventory and was in the process of cleaning that up.

Personally, I had just gotten married, had been right in the middle of taking accounting courses towards my CGA designation and was volunteering my time with a Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program here in Toronto.

I was also on the board of the Government of Canada Charitable Workplace Campaign, and in the role, I went to each and every employee in the Revenue Collections division in our office and spoke to them one-on-one about the program and their contribution.  They donated record amounts.

I had several inventories of business collections accounts, and when the office renovated floors and we had to move staff between floors, I was the coordinator.  I was also the employee who received the sensitive issues from the Director’s Office to hand, with care.

I was busy.  Could have been much busier, but certainly I was fully engaged.

I was nominated and both myself and the nominator received recognition for the honour.

I was deeply honoured and appreciative.

Then I won.

I was shocked.

I drove to Niagara Falls, accepted the award from then Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency Ruby Howard, and I drove back home to attend class later that evening.

The following day, the first person I met when I arrived into the building greeted me like this;

“Hey Warren. Congratulations on the award. I just don’t feel that you deserved it.”

“Thank you”, I replied to him. “Neither do I.”

“Sorry, that might have been harsh”, he said to me.

“I’d rather you speak the truth, than keep that from me” I said.

“You know what”, he said. “Maybe I just don’t know you well, enough, but time will tell.”

Just a year before this man passed away from a long battle with cancer, he said leaning over the cubicle right beside me where he sat; “You know what, Warren. I’m surprised you only won one of those things.”

That comment from one of the smartest people the CRA had ever employed, meant a lot to me.  Not many people got along with this gentleman because he was all business, all the time, but I deeply respected him and I let him know it.  He earned that respect from everyone, but few knew how to pass it along to him.

But, getting back to my “claim”…

I decided to attach the picture of my award;

Me accepting the award in Niagara Falls;

My certificate of my 10-year’s of service to the CRA;

…and a word of advice for anyone who has tax problems…

Know who you are dealing with. Understand their expertise in the field you are looking for expertise in.

What makes inTAXicating so successful is that Taxpayers, business owners and other professionals read my words, Google me, check out my LinkedIn profile and determine that I know my stuff.

Which I do.

Then they reach out.

I expect each and everyone of you to do the same.  Read some posts, Google me. Check out my LinkedIn profile and reach out for tax help, to have questions answered, to learn more about the CRA, or to help your clients so you can help them.

Email: info@intaxicating.ca

Why inTAXicating Tax Posts Rank Higher than the CRA?

Anyone else get a lot of SEO Spam?

SEO, in case you were not aware is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization, and is a marketing technique which focuses on growing the visibility of your web-site through non-paid search engine results.

To get a higher ranking website, you need a combination of good content and your site has to hit the right keywords.  Doing this will drive traffic to the website, and all of this helps the search engines know that your site needs to be shown to people searching for whatever you have written about.

It stands to reason then, that just because you created a web-site (or blog) it doesn’t mean that anyone will see it or read it.  The site has to be “indexed”, meaning that it needs to show up in search engines, and it gets indexed by having people show up and visit the site.

The more visitors, the higher the ranking.

What does SEO spam have to do with inTAXicating and the CRA?

Quite a lot, actually.

In and amongst the spam we get on our website, the majority of pitches are from SEO companies who promise to help me get this website on the “first page of Google”.

Now, I know that a lot of these inquiries are spam because they are fraudulent – trying to steal identities and money – however there are some real companies who reach out to help me improve my site’s ranking, and to those companies – and to ANY company who is going to take the time to make a pitch any company, I offer this advice.

At the very least, before you reach out, you really need to check to see that you are offering a service which they actually need?

You see, there are many inTAXicating blog posts which already come up on the first page of Google.  Some, in fact, come up first or second.  Many even come up before the Canada Revenue Agency!

So thank you for the offer to get me on the first page of Google searches.  If I was even going to consider using your services at any point in time, and you have not taken the time to see that, what less obvious things have you missed?

Business fail because they do not take the time to check their prospective client(s) out and they end up making a pitch which shows there is no attention to detail being paid.

In the meantime, if our blog posts are ranking higher on Google – and we do not promote, or pay for any ads – then you know where a large number of Canadians are going to find answers for their tax problems and to find resources to help them in their dealings with the CRA.

Even the CRA sometimes contacts us for feedback regarding the way they have written something to see if our understanding represents the message that the CRA is trying to get across.

If you, or anyone you know has a tax issue with the Canada Revenue Agency, then they need to contact us, at inTAXicating Tax Services.  We rank higher than the CRA on CRA tax matters for a reason.

Email us here: info@intaxicating.ca