Common CRA Audit Triggers

Common Audit Triggers

Audits in Canada are typically assigned randomly. There are, however, some reasons as to why some taxpayers are audited more often that others.

Here are some of the most common factors which may increase the chance of being audited by the CRA, from most common to least:

 

Screwing around with Trust Funds

Sorry to be so blunt, but there is nothing that raises the ire of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) more than finding out, or suspecting that you have been less than honest with Trust Funds – the money taken from employees or customers and held in trust for the CRA.

In these instances, the CRA comes to audit fast, and leave no stone unturned.

Self-employment income

The addition of self-employment income, along with or instead of T4 income is an area of significant concern for the CRA.

Earning T4 income, means is likely that the sufficient amounts of tax, CPP and EI have been withheld and remitted to the CRA on your behalf and on behalf of your employer, making it low-risk.

Self-employed individuals, on the other hand, do not, in most cases, have taxes withheld at source, making it more under the scope of the CRA.

The Industry you operate in

This is a two-fold flag because not only are some sectors audited more than others – dentists, real estate agents, restaurants, construction companies, and corner stores that take cash, for example, but the CRA also uses the industry that all businesses / taxpayers operate in, and compares the numbers reported to those of the others in your industry.

If you stand out for one reason or another, expect to be asked why, in the form of an audit.

Additionally, in around November of each year, the CRA computers match and compare many pieces of taxpayer information, looking for slips which were not declared, or for outliers.

3rd Party audits

Often times taxpayers are audited simply because a related party is being audited. Sometimes this means that family members or shareholders of a closely-held corporation are audited in the course of the audit of the corporation. Other times various corporations in a supply chain may be audited because of the audit of one of them. Sometimes contractors are audited because of a payroll audit at the corporate level.

There is nothing that can be done to minimize this risk factor. Unfortunately, the more businesses and taxpayers that a particular taxpayer is involved with, the greater likelihood of a CRA audit.

We represented a construction company which had immaculate books and records, yet were under audit by the CRA for almost a year. It made no sense, because every single item requested by the auditor matched and was reported correctly.

It finally came to light that a customer of this company from 8-years-ago had tried to commit fraud and claim a receipt for services which were never performed by this company (they had changed the date and written “CASH” across the invoice).

After proving the invoice was fraudulent, the audit suddenly ceased and the taxpayer who changed the invoice was charged with fraud.

You just never know!

Informant Leads Line Tips

The Informant Leads Line / or Tips line or Snitch line, has provided way more tax and audit leads that the CRA could have ever imagined – and still does.

In light of the fact that tips relating to offshore tax evasion may yield a reward for the informant, it may never end.

Moral of the story: taxpayers who are cheating the system should not count on staying under CRA’s radar forever. They should also be careful as to who has incriminating evidence which could be reported to the CRA.

Common leads come from; ex-spouses, former employees, and neighbours. So the next time you piss someone off, you might want to make sure they don’t reported you to the CRA.

Living Beyond your means – Net Worth Assessments

Taxpayers who live in a $4 million dollar house, and who report income of $1/year, can expect to have caught the attention of the CRA. The same goes for taxpayers who have debt to the CRA and are unable to pay, yet post publicly on their social media of their travels and lavish expenditures.

Lifestyles which appears to be incongruent with the amount of declared income can expect to be audited.

Using your Vehicle for business / Claiming vehicle expenses

Vehicle expenses are often arbitrarily determined. When preparing their tax return, often times taxpayers and their accountants pick a reasonable number for vehicle expenses based on an estimate of the percentage of the vehicle usage used for business purposes.

Few taxpayers actually keep a log of every trip, yet every one should!

Not having a log, and corresponding calendar means that few taxpayers can prove to the CRA with absolute certainty, the use of a vehicle for business purposes – thus making it easy for the CRA to deny the expenses.

Real estate transaction

Thank you Liberal government and your out of control spending.

As a result of the need for tax revenue to pay down the debt and deficit, the CRA began cracking down on real estate transactions in the past 5-years. Had the Liberals won a majority government in the 2019 Federal election, there would be capital gains taxes on the sale of principal residences. Right now, it is a requirement for Canadians to track and list on their tax returns the sale of their principal residence.

To say that the CRA pays careful attention to real estate transactions would be an understatement. The CRA frequently audits HST rebates, pre-sale condo flips, new home construction, principal residence exemptions, and many other real estate transactions.

Being involved in multiple real estate transactions sharply increases the chance of being audited.

Home office expenses

The CRA loves auditing home office expenses. Home office expenses are often arbitrary and over-declared, along with the percentage of time the home office is actually used, and the percentage of the house used for the purpose of earning income.

Operating a cash business

When there is a lot of cash being received by a merchant, there is more opportunity for the CRA to recover taxes on undeclared cash income. One common trick the CRA will perform involves the deposits going into the business or personal bank account which are significant, repetitive or unsupported. In these instances, they are declared as income, and a 50% gross negligence penalty is applied.

Adjustments / Amending returns

The CRA is on top of the business or taxpayer who declares a little income and then amends their returns after the fact to report the actual, and much higher balance. Not only is the prohibited, but it’s a great way to be audited.

If the amending  results in a refund, or a refund is issued and then the correct filing results in a balance outstanding, then – you can expect an audit.

Donations – Large and Tax Shelters

If charitable contributions are suspiciously large and do not seem to be possible or likely within the confines of a taxpayer’s income, such donations or contributions are very likely to be audited.

As well, charitable contributions made to organizations suspected of being involved in tax schemes are even more likely to be subjected to an audit.

As long as there are taxes there will be individuals and organizations selling (and conning) taxpayers into participating in tax schemes to reduce taxes. Some of these schemes are outright frauds, while others have no fraudulent intent, but for one reason or another fail.

The Canada Revenue Agency actively and aggressively audits taxpayers who are involved in a tax shelter, a gifting program, or any other tax scheme.

In many circumstances, taxpayers are able to receive refunds and benefits from these programs for several years prior to the CRA auditing, and then reassessing the donation. Unfortunately, since it can take a bit for the CRA to learn of the scheme, and refunds are issued / debts reduced, the participants often bring in family and friends and get them caught up in the program.

Typically, in these schemes, taxpayer may receive tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of CRA refunds to which they were never entitled only to have the CRA come back and audit and reassess years later, along with gross negligence penalties and interest. $100,000 in illegitimate refunds can turn into more than $200,000 once penalties and interest and the passage of time have been taken into consideration.

The rule of thumb is that if it appears too good to be true, it is.

Shareholder loans

Shareholder loans which are not repaid within a year after the year-end of the corporation are often audited, because the CRA suspects they are not legitimate and were simply paper transactions.

Loans where shareholders took revolving loans from the corporation, paying each off just prior to the deadline and then taking a new loan, are also on the CRA’s radar for audit due to their tax benefits.

It shouldn’t need to be said, but taxpayers who are both shareholders and employees of the corporation should be very careful with shareholder home loans, and should have all supporting documentation available.

In order for a home loan to be treated as an employee home loan rather than a shareholder loan, the loan must be made because the person is an employee, rather than because they are a shareholder and should be available to all other employees.

Child-care costs

The CRA regularly conducts mini-audits to ensure that parents who claim childcare expenses maintain proper documentation, and that the children actually attend the establishment for child care and not just for playdates. Claiming childcare for children who hang out with their grandparents a few days a week while the parents are not both working out of the home, would prompt an audit.

Employment expenses

Employees who are issued a T2200 form by their employer are entitled to deduct certain employment expenses from their income. Perhaps the employee has to pay for their own vehicle to travel to sales calls, or perhaps they have to maintain a home office. As long as the employer requires that the employee pays these expenses in respect of their job, they likely can be deducted from income.

Since this is an abused area (each expense is paid for with pre-tax dollars and reduces the overall tax paid by the taxpayer) the CRA audits many employees with the T2200 to ensure that a) their form is properly completed and may be used to deduct the expenses in question and b) each of the expenses claimed was legitimate and for the purposes of their employment, as outlined in the T2200.

Previous audits

If the CRA keeps coming back and auditing and re-auditing every aspect of a business – and if they keep finding issues – that business or taxpayer can expect to be on the audit list for each and every year.

Criminal activity

All business profits are subject to taxes. This includes both legitimate and illegal businesses. As far as the CRA is concerned, if you are earning income you should pay taxes. Period.

So if a taxpayer is accused of or convicted of a crime and the CRA learns about the illegal business which was taking place, they often audit and reassess the taxpayer for taxes on the proceeds of crime – whether or not the taxpayer still has such proceeds. Often times, criminal activity is weeded out during an audit, as opposed to the CRA knowing there is an illegal business and pretending that it is legitimate.

These audits usually require the supporting documentation to justify expenses, and often there are none provided resulting in extremely large assessments.

 

Conclusion:

Keep your records together by year, and expect to be audited each and every year. When you are not, be thankful.

 

Gifting Scheme Conviction. Be Careful With Your Hard Earned Money!

A Coaldale, Alberta man has been arrested for fraud after allegedly being one of the central figures in a so-called “gifting” scheme which has taken in about 500 individuals across the province of Alberta.

Gifting schemes have been under the microscope at the Canada Revenue Agency for over a decade, and in all cases, the CRA have rejected these schemes, and denied the donation receipts of the contributors.

While these cases play out in Tax Court, the participants are left to fend for themselves, often accruing penalties and interest which far exceed the amount of their contribution or their tax benefit.

In this specific scheme, Steele Cameron Tolman, 57, was charged with fraud over $5,000 and possession of the proceeds of crime over $5,000. He is scheduled to appear in court in Lethbridge on May 17 to answer LPS charges he is a “main presenter” or “promoter” of a gifting circle fraud which began in September 2018.

These schemes – and this scheme specifically – operate under false pretences, whereby people are recruited by telling them that if they contribute $5,000 they will eventually receive $40,000 with no risk.

The fraud occurs when that $5,000 is used to payout the $40,000 to one of the earlier members which means new members must be recruited in order to continue paying out members.

If this scheme was promoted out of a parking lot, and some guy’s back of their van, they are going to say this scheme was completely ridiculous, however, this was promoted by friends and family who received the $40,000 payout which added additional legitimacy to the scheme.

The fraud is criminal in nature because the recruitment of new members occurs under the false pretense of “no risk. Those who participated and received their $40,000, are in receipt of the proceeds of crime, which is illegal, and those who received their payouts must declare that income to the Canada Revenue Agency.

What is truly amazing is that people who participate in schemes and scams like these can claim that they did so thinking it was legal, and have used that argument in conversations with the police and the CRA.

If you give someone $5,000 and they give you back $40,000 – which seems too good to be true… Means it is too good to be true.

Much in the same way that someone donating $1,000 to a “charity” and receives a tax receipt for a donation of $2500.  It’s illegal, and you’re going to get caught and the penalties and interest will far exceed the amount of benefit received.

Be careful with your hard earned money. There are no fast and easy ways to make a buck. Don’t fall for scams and schemes and get left with a tax debt, or worse.

Tax Shelter Debt with the CRA? Come TONIGHT to a Meeting in Toronto

Have you participated in a Canadian Tax Shelter?

Do you owe the CRA money?

Have the promoters of the shelter taken your money and run away?

If any of these situations sound like a dilemma you are in, or going to be in, then you have a bit of time to do something about it.

The Tax Shelters they will be discussing tonight are; COIP, RLG, MLF and PGI.

If you have participated in any other tax shelter, such as GLGI, and you wish to speak with me regarding your options, please understand that the event will focus on the above 4, however, I will have time set aside after to speak with participants regarding them.

TONIGHT:

Tonight, November 21st, 2017 is your last chance this year to come and meet with tax shelter and CRA experts on the subject of their Class Defence.

Profitable Giving Canada, the leading Canadian Tax Shelter Solution provider, are especially pleased to have Mr Shy Kurtz,  LLB, BCL, the Chairman of their Legal Affairs Committee as special guest to answer questions and give an update on their Class Defence.

Don’t miss out on this important opportunity to find out how to deal with the CRA reassessments and collections.   It’s your last opportunity for quite some time to speak directly to the experts.

If you have not yet joined their Class Defence,  it is even more critical to attend.  They want to hear from you and you need our help, trust me! 
Event details:

Tuesday, November 21, 2017
7:00 PM-9:00 PM
Hampton Inn & Suites,
Register Now
If you simply cannot attend one of their 2017 final seminars,  they would be pleased to offer you a  private telephone consultation at your convenience.  Or just call them at 519 -964 – 2780

The seminar will be hosted by Mr. Jaye Torley, the President of Profitable Giving Canada.

I will be there too to answer questions on the CRA’s Collections process.

IF you wish to speak to PGC, here is their contact info:

inTAXicating is now a Certified Profitable Giving Specialist! What That Means For You…

Warren Orlans, the Director of inTAXicating Tax Services has completed his Profitable Giving Specialist accreditation which certifies that he is able to demonstrate understanding and proficiency in each of the following 4 areas;

  • The Tax Shelter Industry in Canada
  • The Regulations: Promoter Liability and Penalties, Third Party, and Civil Liability
  • Registered Profitable Gifting Arrangements and the Law
  • The Role of the Canada Revenue Agency in Regulating RPGAs

In addition to assisting Canadian Taxpayers who have fallen victim to Tax Shelter scams like the Global Learning and Gifting Initiative (GLGI), the Canadian Organization for International Philanthropy (COIP), the Relief Lending Group (RLG), Mission Life Financial Inc (MLF), Pharma Gifts International (PGI) and Integrated Receivables Management Inc / Integrated RM Inc (IRM).

inTAXicating provides Canada’s only full tax solution to assist Canadians solve all of their tax problems, including ones brought on by participating in tax shelters.
Below is only a snapshot of how to view a CRA debt related to a Tax Shelter / Gifting Arrangement and some of the options to start resolving the issue(s).
In order to reach a solution for Canadian Taxpayers the following things must be considered;
  1. Ability to Pay according to you and,
  2. Ability to Pay according to the CRA.

From there, you have only a few options;

  1. Do nothing
  2. Resolve the balance outstanding
  3. Fight the CRA

Should you choose to resolve the balance outstanding, you again have only a few options;

  1. Pay the balance in full
  2. Ask the CRA for a payment arrangement, and prove you need one
  3. Wait for the CRA to take it from you.
  4. File a Consumer Proposal
  5. File for Bankruptcy.

Keep in mind that the CRA does not “settle” debts like the IRS does.  The only way to “settle” or pay less than the full amount of tax, penalties and interest, is through bankruptcy or a proposal.

While all of the Collections matters are in process, you are entitled to file for Taxpayer Relief and ask the CRA to return some or all of the penalties and / or interest which it has charged you.  This application should be devoted time and effort to complete.  It should never be a cookie-cutter application written by someone else because the CRA sees those and mass-denies them.  Anyone trying to sell you a cookie-cutter application knows this and is “helping” you for the money and not because it’s the right thing to do.

Taxpayer Relief does not hold back Collections for doing what Collections does – trying to collect a balance owing – nor do CRA Collections care that a Taxpayer Relief application has been submitted.

A CRA review of a Taxpayer Relief Application can take upwards of a year.  Be prepared for that delay and the interest that accumulates on your tax account should you wait to pay it later.

Having a trained set of eyes look over and edit a Taxpayer Relief application is a great idea because if you’re taking the time to submit an application, you want to make sure that you are putting your best work forward.

But ultimately, when looking at your options… All of your options, you want to make sure that your interests are being looked after first.  You need an expert in CRA Collections, in Tax Shelters, and who can assist you with accounting, refinancing, insolvency and proposals and who can give you the best advice, the most cost effective advice and the advice that they would take if they were in your shoes.

inTAXicating Tax Services is that organization and we’re here to help you with all of that, and so much more.  We associate ourselves with like-minded professionals who also understand that you are the client and that you need assistance and service.

If you have any questions about any tax shelter that you may have been involved in, and you need to know your specific options, contact us at info@intaxicating.ca