The Truth about the CRA Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP) that no one wants you to know

Before you waste time and money paying a tax solution company to walk you through the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP), you might want to read this post and learn the facts they don’t want you to know.

In order to “qualify” for the Voluntary Disclosure Program, there are some important facts which must be taken into consideration first;

  1. The disclosure must be voluntary, and by voluntary, the CRA means that the business or taxpayer must not be aware of or have knowledge of an audit, investigation or other enforcement action set to be conducted by the CRA, or initiated by the CRA, with respect to the information being disclosed.
  2. The disclosure must be complete, meaning that all information must be disclosed and all the outstanding years must be filed in this application.
  3. The disclosure must involve the application of a penalty, such as, but not limited to, Late Filing Penalties (LFP), Late Remitting Penalties (LRP), and Failure to make installments, Gross Negligence Penalties.
  4. The disclosure must relate to information that is at least one year past due.

 

If you’ve fallen behind in filing, or failed to disclose or declare income – possibly from overseas / offshore investments / tax shelters / income properties, and the CRA has not previously tried to contact you for the returns, then the VDP might be for you.

The VDP allows taxpayers who make a valid disclosure under the Income Tax Act (ITA) to pay taxes owing plus interest, but avoid penalty and / or prosecution.

To make a valid voluntary disclosure, with the CRA means you would pay only the taxes you owe plus interest, and you may avoid penalties and potential prosecution on the information accepted under the program.

You can file a disclosure to correct inaccurate or incomplete information or to provide information you may have omitted in your previous dealings with the CRA.

To submit a disclosure, fill out and sign Form RC199, Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP) Taxpayer Agreement, or write a letter giving the same information as on the form.

You can submit your Form RC199 or your equivalent letter to the CRA directly, using the Submit documents online service now available through My AccountMy Business Account and Represent a Client.

Once you have logged in to one of these portals, click on “Submit documents” on the left hand navigation menu, select “I do not have a case or reference number,” and then select “Make a voluntary disclosure.” From this point you will be prompted to upload your letter or Form RC199 as well as to provide a short file description.

At the end of the process, you will be given a reference number that you can use if you need to add more documents.

You can also send your disclosure by mail to one of the CRA’s tax centres.

 

The following are circumstances under which VDP relief may be granted:

  • you did not fulfill your obligations under the applicable act;
  • you did not report taxable income you received;
  • you claimed ineligible expenses on your tax return;
  • you did not remit your employees’ source deductions;
  • you did not report an amount of GST/HST (which may include undisclosed liabilities or improperly claimed refunds or rebates or unpaid tax or net tax from a previous reporting period);
  • you did not file information returns; or
  • you did not report foreign-sourced income that is taxable in Canada.

 

Disclosures relating to any of the following are not accepted under the VDP:

  • bankruptcy returns;
  • income tax returns with no taxes owing or with refunds expected;
  • elections;
  • advance pricing arrangements;
  • rollover provisions; and
  • post-assessment requests for penalty and interest relief.

 

You can make an anonymous disclosure, referred to as a “no-name” disclosure.  You will have 90 calendar days – beginning on the date the CRA notifies you that there are 90 days to provide the identity of the taxpayer involved, not 90-days from the date of initial disclosure.

The CRA will close the disclosure file without further contact if the identity is not provided before the 90th day.

Additionally, payments should begin as soon as the disclosure is made in order to reduce the amount of interest which is accruing on the file.

Any “taxpayer” can use the VDP, because the CRA considers a taxpayer to be an individual, an employer, a corporation, a partnership, a trust, a goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) registrant/claimant, and a registered exporter of softwood lumber products. You can also have an authorized representative make a disclosure for you.

 

Time Limit:

There is no limit on how far back the VDP will request or review information. A disclosure must be complete and provide all the relevant information to allow the VDP officer to appropriately review and decide whether statute-barred years should be opened for reassessment. Income will be assessed in the year it is earned. If you have not filed for several years (that is, you are a non‑filer), you are expected to update all your tax years.

You are expected to keep your affairs up to date after using the VDP. You cannot make a second submission for the same issue for which you originally received the benefits of the program, however the CRA will consider a second disclosure in situations where the circumstances were beyond your control.

If this is the case, you will be required to give the CRA your name and tell them that you previously made a disclosure. If you do not reveal that you previously made a disclosure and this is uncovered by the CRA, your disclosure may be considered invalid and denied.

 

Additional information from the CRA

Form RC199, Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP) Taxpayer Agreement

Form RC59, Business Consent

Form T1013, Authorizing or Cancelling a Representative

Information Circular IC00-1R4, Voluntary Disclosures Program

Making a Voluntary Disclosure on your Ontario Corporate Tax

 

Beyond the VDP is the opportunity to apply for Taxpayer Relief for full or partial relief of penalties and or interest, if applicable.

Save yourself the hassle of being subjected to someone else’s agenda.  Know your rights, and your options.  Know the truth.

 

For further information or to discuss the VDP and Taxpayer Relief provisions, send an email to us at info@intaxicating.ca

 

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CRA Convictions: Former Senior Liberal Adviser Convicted of Failure To Report Income and Benefits

The CRA has reported that Herb Metcalfe, a former senior adviser to Stephane Dion and Liberal lobbyist has received a conditional sentence of two years less a day – including 12 months house arrest – for failing to report $1.4-million in payment and benefits between 2002 and 2006.

Mr. Metcalfe pled guilty to one count of income-tax evasion and was fined $396,259, which represents 100% of the total taxes evaded.

A CRA investigation focused on Mr. Metcalfe’s work as a director and employee of the Capital Hill Group Ottawa Inc., which the agency describes as “a political lobbying business.”  He is no longer a member of this group – having stepped aside from the business.

The agency states that Mr. Metcalfe prepared his tax returns each year by hand and either knew, “or was willfully blind to the fact,” that the income he received was required to be reported on his returns.

“The Canada Revenue Agency pursues tax evaders to maintain public confidence in the integrity of the tax system,” said my former Director of the Toronto North Tax Services Office, Vince Pranjivan, who is now the CRA’s assistant commissioner for the Ontario Region.

The CRA issued a news release dated Nov. 18, 2015, outlining the fine and conviction. However the release did not immediately receive media attention due to public-service rules related to communicating during an election.  Mr. Metcalfe was sentenced on September 30th, 2015 which was during the Federal election campaign, which meant the CRA posted the conviction on November 18th and at that time was able to notify the media.

 

CRA Conviction Notice: Tax Protester Sentenced to 4-Years in Prison.

On November 27th, 2015, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) issued notice that Nicolet, Quebec resident and tax protester named Christian Lachapelle was sentenced to four years in prison by a Court in Quebec.  Lachapelle plead guilty October 22nd, 2014 to charges related to tax fraud.

A Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) investigation revealed that, between June 2007 and November 2010, Mr. Lachapelle advised and enabled 93 individuals to avoid, or try to avoid, paying nearly $2 million in income tax for the 2003 to 2010 tax years.

The scheme used by Mr. Lachapelle consisted of helping or advising individuals to file income tax returns or request a reassessment using the distinction between a “natural” person and a “legal” person.

For some reason, tax protesters continue to attempt this avenue to avoid having to pay taxes and in doing so regularly convince others that this technique can be used when Canadian courts have repeatedly and consistently rejected such arguments.

This is not the first time that Mr. Lachapelle has had issues with the CRA and the law. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail in 2012 for failing to file his income tax returns despite a court order, as well as fines of $7,000 in 2005 and $14,000 in 2011 for the same reasons.

All case-specific information above was obtained from the court records.

The Canada Revenue Agency warns the public to beware of people who assert that Canadians do not have to pay tax on the income they earn. Canadian courts have repeatedly and consistently rejected arguments made in these tax protester schemes. For those involved in such schemes, the CRA will reassess income tax and interest, and charge penalties – usually Gross Negligence Penalties too which can represent at minimum 50% of the tax being evaded.

More information on tax protester schemes can be found on the CRA website, here: www.cra.gc.ca/alert.

If you have ever made a tax mistake or omission, you have the ability to correct this error through the Canada Revenue Agency’s Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP).

You must make the full and complete disclosure before you become aware that the CRA is taking action against you, and if accepted, you may only have to pay the taxes owing plus interest (not penalties).

More information on the CRA’s VDP can be found on the CRA’s website atwww.cra.gc.ca/voluntarydisclosures.

Additional information on CRA convictions can be found on the Media page of the CRA website at www.cra.gc.ca/convictions.

inTAXicating Tax Services exists to provide clarity and solutions for CRA questions and problems.  If you think you have done something wrong, and the CRA might want to assess / re-assess / audit you or your company, you should check with us first.

http://www.intaxicating.ca

info@intaxicating.ca

Real CRA collections experience.  On your side!

CRA Conviction: Victoria Man Sentenced for Tax Evasion and Counselling Others to Commit Fraud

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has reported that a Victoria, BC man, Richard Stanchfield, has been handed a 14-month conditional jail sentence (including 9-months of house arrest) for income tax evasion and for counselling others to commit fraud.

Stanchfield has been ordered to pay $31,000 in outstanding tax on his own income over a 5-year period.

The CRA has stated that Stanchfield promoted himself as “educator” at a firm called the Paradigm Education Group, which claimed to advise clients of methods of restructuring personal finances to avoid having to pay tax.

In line with their view on tax schemes and scams, the CRA warns consumers to beware individuals who “try to convince you that you do not have to pay tax on earned income”.

If it seems too good to be true, it is!

Philippe DioGuardi Guilty of Professional Misconduct

On November 21st, 2015, the Law Society of Upper Canada found Philippe DioGuardi, of DioGuardi Tax Law guilty of professional misconduct.  As a result, Dioguardi has been given a six-week suspension, a $5,000 fine and an order to pay $75,000 in legal costs.

The law society’s application to the tribunal included allegations that DioGuardi took money from six clients before performing “any or very little legal service,” and in some cases “failed to perform legal services to the standard of a competent lawyer.”

DioGuardi also failed to file income tax returns for a client in a timely manner, the law society alleged in its application.

As part of the agreed-upon penalty, DioGuardi must submit to a review of his practice by the law society.
In its submissions, the law society charged that DioGuardi “failed to act with integrity” by having eight clients sign retainer agreements that benefited his law firm, DioGuardi Tax Law, to the “potential detriment” of those clients when he would deposit client retainer money into the firm’s general account, as opposed to a trust account, which gave DioGuardi ownership over client money prior to any work actually being done.

A law society bylaw states that client funds must be deposited in a trust account and can only be drawn once work is completed.

Earlier this year, DioGuardi was investigated by the Toronto Star relating to his personal and business practice stemming from a messy divorce and to address allegations that he overdrew his firm’s account by $2 million, and at one point owed the CRA more than $140,000 in arrears.

 

If You Cannot Beat Them, Join Them… Prominent Tax Law Firm Copies inTAXicating Tax Services Winning Tax Solution Model

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.biz name official

 

If you are fighting a losing battle, find your most successful competitor and do what they do!

If you are one of the many people who have paid tens of thousands of dollars to a prominent tax lawyer because they told you a lawyer was absolutely required to save you from the “taxman,” you are going to be really disappointed to learn the firm itself no longer feels that way.

As a result of a drawn-out and very public dispute with the Law Society of Upper Canada over their retention of client retainer fees to keep them from the reach of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), DioGuardi Tax Law has been forced to reinvent themselves into our firm, inTAXicating, by saying when people owe tax to the Canada Revenue Agency, a lawyer is no longer the most effective choice for ending the problem.

Oops.

From their press release, Philippe DioGuardi is reported to have said “People who owe tax are vulnerable to the Canada Revenue Agency’s aggressive collection tactics. They need fast and affordable ways to fix their tax trouble before the CRA comes after them with bank and wage garnishments or liens against their home and other property.”

Something I have been saying for the past 10 years!

In an effort to possibly save their business, the press release goes on to explain that hiring lawyers for CRA collections matters is time-consuming (read: expensive for clients) and slow: “They know what I know about fighting the CRA. And because they’re not lawyers, they can work more quickly to end people’s tax debt trouble for less than a lawyer would charge. Frankly, when the trouble is that you owe tax, you don’t need the hassle of hiring a lawyer to fix it.”

Unfortunately, the aggressive negotiation tactics DioGuardi’s firm is known for and which the CRA despises are still at the centre of their campaign.  They also boast a network of resources to assist people who need help with financing, and to slide people into bankruptcy when they cannot get financing.

DioGuardi’s previous radio advertising warned Canadians against searching for Tax Solutions on the Internet (so you will not find answers or firms like inTAXicating) and against so-called Tax Solutions firms, which are really Bankruptcy firms offering to “help” you with your tax debt by plunging you into bankruptcy.

So inTAXicating now has a little competition … kind of … in the field of tax solutions and assistance with CRA issues.  You can either choose 17 years of tax experience – 11 of which were spent recently working in and managing CRA collections – or you can choose a firm which used to believe only lawyers can solve tax problems, but now tells you lawyers are not needed to solve tax problems, and oh, hey, they also used to work somewhere in the CRA 25 years ago.

For us, nothing has changed.

If you have a tax question, issue or concern with the CRA, WSIB or RST, or need help regarding an audit or Taxpayer Relief, or just want to ask a tax question, then send an email to info@intaxicating.ca and you will have your answers.  If you need to hire us, we’ll tell you.  If you can handle it yourself but need a little guidance, we will tell you.

Our reputation is as important as your reputation.

inTAXicating Tax Services.  Canada’s only Tax Solution option!

http://www.intaxicating.ca

Find us on Facebook, Twitter and check out our credentials on LinkedIn.  Our blog is always at http://www.intaxicating.wordpress.com

 

How To Avoid The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Phone Scam

As a former Canada Revenue Agency Business Collections employee – almost 11-years – from collector to Resource Officer and Manager, I understand the fear people have when they receive calls from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

I also understand how scary it is when someone calls you, or leaves a recorded message for you, claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and demanding payment with threats of jail or immediate legal actions. I’ve been called as have many of my clients.

With a little knowledge and understanding of the CRA and the people who work there, I am going to list 10 signs that every Canadian needs to be made aware of in order to not be caught up in this scheme.

10 Facts Every Canadian NEEDS to Know About the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

 

10. Yelling and Screaming are NOT permitted, nor tolerated.

Regardless of what you have heard or experienced, the people who work in the Canada Revenue Agency are everyday people like you and I. If we yelled and screamed at our “client base” we would be disciplined or fired. They are no different.

9. Threats are NOT allowed.

The staff at the CRA will not threaten you with jail time, to send in the Sheriff, have you deported or to take every penny that you have.  Even is the call is not a scam you do not have to tolerate any threats from anyone at the CRA.

If you have been evading the paying of taxes, you already know that you could be charged and that jail time is possible. Any other type of collection action usually comes with pre-warning by a letter, Notice of Assessment or is started once you file / pay your taxes.

The CRA will not seize your principal residence!  Your cottage, rental properties, maybe, but house you and your kids live in… No.

8.  The Element of Surprise

If the call catches you by surprise, AND the person on the end of the phone is screaming at you, threatening to take your

7. Ask Questions.

In the instance you get a live person on the phone and they are trying to give you a hard time and force you to pay money, turn the conversation back to them and ask lots of questions. Ask them what the account number / social insurance number is, what periods or years the debt relates to (the debt they want you to pay). Ask them for a break-down of the total tax owing and the amount of penalties and interest – either the total amount or broken down by period or year. (They have this at their finger tips). Ask them what Tax Office they are calling from, and what the address and phone number is at that office. Ask them to send you a remittance voucher so that you can make that payment at the bank.

6. Defer

Tell them that while you would love to speak to them, you have an accountant who handles all your tax information and you would like to take down their information so your representative can call them back.

5. Do NOT Agree to Pay anything over the phone!

This rule applies not only to the CRA but to anyone else who ever calls your home / phone asking for money. Never, ever make a payment over the phone with your credit card.

4. Receipt Please!

If you are self-employed, you understand the importance of getting and keeping receipts.  Why would you buy a pre-paid gift card or charge card to send to some stranger who is not going to give you a receipt for payment?

You wouldn’t.

The CRA has recently allowed payment of some taxes by credit / debit card.  They will likely NEVER accept payment via gift cards, etc.

3. If you get such a call, hang up and report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre can be found online at http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca or toll free at 1-888-495-8501.

If you believe you may be the victim of fraud or have given personal or financial information unwittingly, contact your local police service.

2.  Confirm, Confirm, Confirm.

If you want to confirm the authenticity of a CRA telephone number, call the CRA by using the numbers on its Telephone numbers page. The number for business-related calls is 1-800-959-5525. The number for calls about individual concerns is 1-800-959-8281

1.  The CRA NEVER…

Requests prepaid credit cards;

Asks for information about your passport, health card, or driver’s licence;

Leaves personal information on your answering machine!

Asks you to leave a message containing your personal information on an answering machine.

Emails seeking information or asking for payment.

 

 

So when in doubt, ask yourself the following questions:

Is there a reason that the CRA may be calling?

Do I have a tax balance outstanding?

Is the requester asking for information I would not include with my tax return?

Is the requester asking for information I know the CRA already has on file for me?

Are they too mean / demanding / aggressive?

 

It’s always better to defer the conversation than make the mistake of giving information or money to criminals.