Voluntary Disclosure Program Screening

I received an interesting call late Friday afternoon from a Canadian taxpayer who wanted to know more about the Canada Revenue Agency’s Voluntary Disclosure Program.

She said that she thought she was being “swindled”.

She called a “tax solution” type business and they said that for $3,000.00, they would “investigate” as to whether or not she qualified for the program.

To which I asked her this question;

“Has the CRA tried to get you to file outstanding returns, either by phone or by sending letters to you?”

“Yes”, she replied.

“Then you do NOT qualify for the program” was my response.

And I saved her $3000.00.

If the CRA has already reach out to you – or attempted to reach out to you – regarding unfiled returns or unreported income, then your disclosure is no longer voluntary.

For more information, read up on the CRA’s Voluntary Disclosure Program, through the CRA’s website, here.    Or Google “CRA VDP” and refer to the websites beginning with http://www.cra.gc.ca, or http://www.CRA-arc.gc.ca/voluntarydisclosures

 

CRA’s Offshore Informant Leads Line Succeeding

A vast majority of Canadians pay their fair share of taxes, but those who don’t put an increased burden on the rest of us. That is why the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has implemented initiatives to help Canadians participate in the efforts to help fight offshore tax avoidance and evasion. The Offshore Tax Informant Program…

via Federal programs in place to address offshore tax avoidance and evasion — National Post – Top Stories

Tips To Keep the CRA Collections Group Happy!

The following are tips to keep the CRA’s collections department happy.

This list in not fully inclusive of everything that you can do because you cannot send them gifts, they have to reject or toss them, and if you do their work for them – they might like that for a bit – until there are no more accounts, and then they will have no more work to do, and then no job.

 

So here are a few tips to keep CRA happy…

  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate.  If they have to contact you, they’re already angry.
  2. Don’t be a jerk on the phone to them.  Everything you say goes into a permanent diary and that diary is summarized semi-annually.  You don’t want anyone who accesses your account to think you’re a jerk
  3. Don’t accuse them of being out to get you…  They likely have 400-500 accounts and their goal is to collect some, write some off and let the others pay or go bankrupt.  Just show them some progress on any of those fronts and you’ll be in much better standing.
  4. Ask for the best and lowest settlement offer.  The CRA does NOT do that unless it is through insolvency or a formal proposal in bankruptcy.  The IRS settles debts, but this is not the IRS… The CRA is WAY better!
  5. If you enter into a payment arrangement, ensure there are sufficient funds in the account to pay the cheques. If a cheque is returned NSF (not sufficient funds), then the CRA collections officer will take immediate collection actions and getting those Requirements to Pay removed can be next to impossible.
  6. Keep current!!!  Whether during the period of a payment arrangement, or just through discussions with the CRA make sure you are up-to-date on all filings and payments (including GST/HST, income tax, payroll taxes, etc).   If you fail to remain current, the CRA can – and likely will – end the payment arrangement and pressure you for more.
  7. Understand that the CRA is not your bank, and treat them that way.  At a bank, you are earning credit, but at the CRA, in collections, you are paying 10% interest compounding daily… It’s not in your best interest to take your time re-paying them.
  8. If you have nothing to hide (and even if you do have something to hide), be honest with the CRA collections officer. Things you say may cause the CRA collections officer to become concerned.
  9. Provide the information that is requested by the CRA collections officer. If the CRA collections officer trusts you, he/she will be more likely to exercise discretion before pressing confirm on that Requirement To Pay.

Changes to the CRA’s RC59 Business Consent Form (For Online Access) Coming in May 2017

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has announced on their website that there are changes coming to the RC59 Business Consent form.  This form is completed by a taxpayer who has business accounts or by businesses who wish to have a representative contact the CRA on their behalf.

Without having this form signed and dated, the CRA will not speak to the representative.

These changes are expected to be law in May of 2017.

These laws apply to representatives who use the RC59, Business Consent, to get online access to their business clients’ information in Represent a Client.

  1. After May 15, to request online access to tax information for a business, you will need to complete the authorization request in Represent a Client. Form RC59 will no longer be used to authorize online access.

    To complete an authorization request:

    1. Log into Represent a Client.
    2. From the Welcome page, select “Review and update.”
    3. Select “Authorization request” at the bottom of the “Manage clients” tab and follow the instructions.
    4. Print the signature page for your client to sign.

    Scan and send the signed copy of the signature page to the CRA using Submit documents.

  2. When you use Represent a Client, you’ll have access to your business clients’ information in five days or less instead of the 15 days it takes today with form RC59.
    You can also see which business clients have authorized you and if the authorizations expire by selecting “Businesses that have authorized this business (or RepID)” under the “Manage clients” tab.
  3. What if I don’t use Represent a Client?
    If you still prefer your current process, you can still use form RC59 to request access to your business clients’ information by telephone or mail.

 

Auditor General Report Points Out The Obvious: CRA takes too long to resolve tax objections.

In some not-news of the day, the Federal Auditor General has found that the federal government takes months — sometimes years — to make decisions, costing Canadians time and money when it comes to resolving tax disputes.

Audits of the Canada Revenue Agency unveiled exceedingly long delays which fall short of public expectations in an era of advanced technology and instant communications.  He noted that departments, like the CRA, assess the time it takes to make decisions against their own internal benchmarks, giving little heed to what the taxpayers they serve might consider a timely decision.

The Canada Revenue Agency often leaves taxpayers waiting for months after they file formal objections to their tax assessments.  Appeals officers seeking help from other parts of the agency often wait a year or more.

Over the last 10 fiscal years, the inventory of outstanding cases at the CRA grew by 171%, while the number of employees dedicated to resolving them grew by only 14%, the audit found. The backlog of unresolved cases as of March 31 represented more than $18 billion in federal taxes, the audit said.

But the solution here is not necessarily to grow the public service, but rather a review of the internal policies and how the union impacts the employees ability to do their jobs might need to be reviewed and revamped.

I remember when I started working in the CRA and was “advised” that I should be working 7 accounts per day.  I can tell you this, when you begin your day at 7:15, and are completed your work by 8:30 there is only so much coffee you can drink per day.  I wound up holding several inventories of accounts, and assisting my teammates in order to keep busy.

Eventually, as rules loosened, I was in charger of a collections / compliance team and we were working upwards of 90 accounts per day each which made such a significant dent in the total amounts coming into collections that they disbanded the team.

Our office had to take on work from other tax offices in order to have enough work for each employee and as stay left, took on other positions outside of collections or took leaves they were not replaced.  Our tax office at 50% less staff was resolving 400% more accounts…

But like everything else in life, there was a downturn, contracts up for renegotiation, people moved on (like myself) and now the Auditor General reports there are too many accounts which cannot be handled at current staffing levels.

Ahhh, government.

The CRA Wants You To Make Your Installments! You Do Too!!

Did you know?

You can see your installment amount in the CRA’s My Account and make your installment payments online.

Even better, you can see your installment amount online!

To see your installment amount online, you need to login to My Account, select “View mail,” and click “Instalment.” If you don’t have My Account, you can register now, I’ve hyperlinked it for you, but understand that the registration process can take weeks.

Also, I do not recommend providing the CRA with Direct Deposit information if you have a tax liability or intend on having one any time soon as they will use that bank source to clean out your bank account… I’m just saying…  If I still worked there, I would too.

Back to installments…

Don’t forget: If you signed up for online mail, you may receive an email notification for your instalment reminder from the CRA!

If you fail to make your installment payments you will be penalized by the CRA, as laid out here;  http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/ncm-tx/pymnts/nstlmnts/ntrst-eng.html.

Instalment interest

You will be charged interest if all of the following conditions apply:

  • The CRA sends you an instalment reminder in 2016 that shows an amount to pay
  • you must pay by instalment in 2016
  • you did not make instalment payments, or you made payments that were late or you paid less than what you had to pay

The CRA charges instalment interest on all late or insufficient instalment payments.

Instalment interest is compounded daily at the prescribed interest rate.

How the CRA determines the interest?

  1. The CRA calculates interest on each instalment payment that you should have paid from the day it was due to your balance due date based on the payment option that results in the least amount of interest.
  2. The CRA calculates the interest on each instalment you paid for the year starting from the later of the date the payment was made or January 1 up to the balance due date.

Then, they determine the interest you owe by charging the difference between a. and b., if the difference is more than $25.

Instalment penalty

You may have to pay a penalty if your instalment payments are late or less than the required amount.

The CRA apply this penalty only if your instalment interest charges for 2016 are more than $1,000.

To calculate the penalty, the CRA will determine which of the following amounts is higher:

  • $1,000, or
  • 25% of the instalment interest that you would have had to pay if you had not made instalment payments for 2016

Then, they subtract the higher amount from your actual instalment interest charges for 2016.  Finally, they divide the difference by two and the result is your penalty.  Clear as mud, eh?

Example

For 2016, John made instalment payments that were less than he should have paid. As a result, he has $2,500 of actual instalment interest charges for 2016. If John had not made any instalment payments in 2016, his instalment interest charges would have been $3,200. Since 25% of $3,200 is $800, we subtract $1,000 (the higher amount) from $2,500. The difference is $1,500. Then, we divide $1,500 by two. John’s penalty is $750.

Now the good part!

How can you reduce your instalment interest and penalties?

You can reduce or eliminate the interest charges and penalties by overpaying your next instalment payment or by paying it early. By paying early or overpaying, you will earn instalment credit interest. This credit interest is not refundable and can only be used against any interest charges on late payments for the same tax year.

 

How to Pay:

Choose the electronic payment method that’s right for you:

Online banking – Through your financial institution’s online banking, add the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as a payee and look for the “tax instalments” payment option.

Debit card – The CRA’s My Payment service lets you pay with your Visa® Debit or Interac® online debit card through participating financial institutions.

Pre-authorized debit – You can set up a tax payment in advance. You choose the bank account, the amount, and the date or dates of the transaction.

Credit card – You can use a third-party service provider that offers additional payment methods, including credit cards.

Carefully enter your social insurance number as your account number so the CRA can apply your payment to the intended account.

For more information, watch our video Change it up: Pay your taxes online and, go to make a payment to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Stay connected with the CRA:

On Twitter – @CanRevAgency.

Subscribe to a CRA electronic mailing list.

Add their RSS feeds to your feed reader.

You can also watch their tax-related videos on YouTube.

 

PEI Raise HST to 15% October 1, 2016.

Prince Edward Island will be raising their Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) to 15% (from 14%) beginning October 1, 2016.

This decision was made on April 19, 2016, when the PEI Government announced its intention to increase the Provincial rate of the HST (PST) to 10% effective October 1, 2016, resulting in an HST rate of 15% when added to the 5% GST.

PEI set out transitional rules to determine which rate – the existing 14% HST, or the new 15% HST – should apply in respect of transactions that straddle October 1st and under these rules suppliers would generally be required to charge the 15% HST on any consideration that becomes due without having been paid, or is paid without having become due, on or after October 1, 2016, for taxable supplies of property or services.

Under the Excise Tax Act (ETA), the consideration, or a part thereof, for a taxable supply generally becomes due on the earliest of:

  • The day the supplier first issues an invoice in respect of the supply for that consideration or part thereof;
  • The date of that invoice;
  • The day the supplier would have, but for an undue delay, issued an invoice in respect of the supply for that consideration or part thereof; and
  • The day the recipient of the supply is required to pay that consideration or part thereof to the supplier pursuant to a written agreement.

 

Regarding real property transactions, supplies of services are to charge the 15% HST rate to any consideration that becomes due without having been paid, or is paid without having become due, on or after October 1, 2016.

Conversely, the 14% HST rate applies to any consideration that becomes due or is paid before October 1, 2016.