Ottawa estimates corporations dodged up to $11.4 billion in 2014 tax payments

Very interesting article published on June 18th, 2019 via the Canadian Press, regarding what appears to be Canadian Corporations avoiding the payment of $11.4 billion dollars in taxes owing to the CRA.

My initial reaction to that headline was likely similar to what others who saw this headline probably felt – that corporations are not paying their fair share of taxes, that corporations get all these tax breaks and that the government allows corporations to not pay taxes.

But before I would be able to properly comment on this, I would have to read the article a few times to figure out what the actual story is.

According to the article, the issues are these;
“Corporations avoided paying Ottawa between $9.4 billion and $11.4 billion in taxes in 2014″, according to a new federal report created by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which estimated these figures.

The report estimates the “tax gap”, or the difference between what is owed to the government and what was collected by the CRA — for small and medium enterprises is between $2.7 billion and $3.5 billion and for large corporations, between $6.7 billion and $7.9 billion.

“The corporate figures bring the total estimated 2014 tax gap from a series of studies by a dedicated CRA unit to between $21.8 billion and $26 billion — or 10.6% to 12.6% of revenues — not including funds recovered or lost due to audits.”

By not including funds recovered or lost during audits, and not going into detail as to what “audit” specifically means, it could represent the amount of taxes assessed during an audit (where the CRA found additional taxes owing), or lost (where the CRA had assessed a corporation, only to find out during an audit that the assessment was inaccurate or invalid, and thus reversed, revised or reduced).

Taking a closer look at the figures, might be a huge shock to anyone who feels that corporations get it easy in Canada.

In 2014, Corporate tax filers reported approximately $298 billion in taxable income and $40.9 billion in total federal tax payable. Even though they made up only about 1% of the 2.1 million corporate tax filers, large corporations reported about 52% of the total corporate taxable income and contributed about 54% of the federal tax.

More than half the taxes collected in this country come from large corporations!

After being fed data which explained that the corporate tax gap for 2014 was between $9.4 billion and $11.4 billion, then the government goes on to mention that the “total” estimated 2014 tax gap is $21.8 billion and $26 billion, meaning between $12.4 billion and $14.6 billion is taxes owed by individuals who are not paying their taxes…

Then the government explains that after the audits, which were left out of the equation, are finalized, the corporate tax gap will actually be reduced by between 31-40% for small enterprises and between 64-75% for large corporations, which means overall, the corporate tax gap for 2014 is actually somewhere between $3.3 billion and $5.3 billion and not $9.4 billion to $11.4 billion.

Clear, right?

So that means the actual tax gap, taking into consideration the post-audit figures that the CRA anticipates, is actually between $15.7 billion to $19.9 billion, and of those taxes owing, most of it is owing from individual Canadians who are not paying.

Meanwhile, large corporations pay 54% of the total taxes paid to this country to fund services, roads, healthcare, and the many benefits that we have all come to appreciate.

Why is this article geared towards corporations? Shouldn’t it be thanking the corporations and pointing fingers at the Canadians who are not paying their fair share? Why was it positioned this way?

Since that answer could be anything, ranging from inaccurate reporting to political manoeuvring, then the only question that remains from this article surrounds what constitutes “taxes owing”? Is that figure based on amounts reported by Canadians who just never paid the taxes, or does that figure include assessed amounts owing that the CRA created, and which may or may not be owing? If it’s the latter then it’s highly likely that the tax gap is even smaller.

NOTE

Ask me one day to tell the story about the notional assessments that I raised while working at the CRA at the request of my team leader to “get the attention” of the business… It got the attention of more than the business! It got the attention of the Minister of Finance. Lesson learned.

So, to conclude, there is a tax gap. There will always be a tax gap because not every Canadian has the ability to pay their taxes in full and on time, each and every year. As well, not every Canadian files their taxes on time, or are required to file on time, which means the full picture will never be forthcoming because of all the moving parts.

The timing and content of this article leads me to believe that the Federal government and the CRA going to come after corporations.  They shouldn’t, based on the actual figures, but corporations do not vote in elections – people do.

What the true intent of this article is, however, is very unclear to me.

Winnipeg insulation company to pay nearly $500K in fines and back taxes for tax evasion

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has announced on their website that a Winnipeg-based insulation company has been fined after underreporting its taxable income by more than $1 million.

The CRA’s Investigators found irregularities in the books and records of Thermo Applicators Inc., such as, that the company’s president included personal expenses in the company’s books, including construction costs for a cabin near Kenora, Ont. and a vacation home in Mexico, as well as a fly-in fishing trip. None of these are eligible tax deductions.

Thermo pleaded guilty in Manitoba provincial court on May 21 to two counts of making false or deceptive statements in the 2009-14 tax years. The court found $1,139,000 million in taxable income went unreported, in addition to the claiming of ineligible expenses.

As a result, the company is being ordered to pay $190,142 in income tax and $47,611 of sales tax that should have been withheld. In addition to paying the taxes, the company was fined $237,753.

Once penalties and interest are added to the debt dating back to 2009 the balance will shoot up well over $500,000.

This conviction is a clear reminder that failing to declare income and claiming false expenses can be very costly should the CRA perform and audit and find it.

Keep good records, report all income and claim eligible expenses.

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.

A Tax Joke? Taxes are Not a joke!

I don’t normally posts jokes.  Taxes are not funny.

But this was sent to me, and it made me laugh as a former employee of the CRA responsible to collections, compliance and a variety of other responsibilities.

Here it is;

A local Canadian bar, You Moose Be Joking, was so sure that its bartenders – Bob and Doug McKenzie – were the strongest men in the Yukon, that they offered a standing $1000 bet to anyone who dared to take them up on their challenge.

Each bartender would squeeze a lemon until all the juice ran into a glass, and then they would each hand their lemon to a patron, and if that patron could squeeze just one more drop of lemon juice out of that lemon, they would win the money.

Over the years, many people, and a couple of Moose had tried, but failed.  That list includes: weightlifters, longshoremen, radiologists, race-car drivers, doctors, lawyers, politicians, students, and even duct cleaners. 

Nobody could squeeze one single drop out of the lemons.

Then one cold, windy day, a scrawny, pale, tired looking man walked into the bar, and with a very faint almost unassuming voice, he went over to the bar, pushed up his thick, dirty glasses, and meekly said; “I’d like to try the lemon bet.”

The bar went silent, as everyone looked at the man, and sized up his chances of succeeding at this challenge.

Once the laughter died down, the bartender said, “OK.  Let’s do it!”  He gathered the other bartender, and they each grabbed a lemon, and squeezed them until their faces went red, and not a single drop was left in the fruit.

They each handed the wrinkled remains of the rind to this man, and without any effort, he squeezed the lemons – one in each hand – until drops of lemon juice poured out of his hands, down his wrists and onto the floor.

The crowd fell silent.

Then, after realizing that he had succeeded at this challenge, the crowd erupted, gathered up the man and put him on their shoulders.

“Drinks are on me!” The man said.

“How did you do that?”, the bartenders queried.  “Are you a lumberjack?  Or a weight-lifter?  How did you do that?”

The man smirked and said; “I’m great at getting blood from a stone!  I work for Revenue Canada.”

 

Groan.

BC Tracking Condo Purchasers

Effective September 18th, 2018, the Ministry of Finance in the province of British Columbia (Canada) has introduced a new version of their property transfer tax return which asks for additional information which could be used by the Ministry of Finance, or the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to track condo flippers, or those individuals or businesses who purchase condos and rent them out.

The property tax transfer (PTT) return requires that individuals with a “significant interest” in a corporation or trust that acquires property must be identified, with some exceptions.

If, the purchase is made through a corporation or trust, this new legislation will require property developers to collect a database of pre-sale buyers and remit that list to the BC Government.

The change in the regulations have been implemented to reduce the opportunity for tax evasion and / or money laundering, which are believed to have contributed to the skyrocketing house prices in the province.

The New PTT Return will likely require information on all beneficiaries of certain trusts and corporate interest holders including their name, contact information, tax identifiers (SIN, ITN, BN), and citizenship.

The draft legislation titled the Land Owner Transparency Act is still in the consulting stage and the BC government has stated that the results of the consultations do not affect the new PTT return which came into effect September 17, 2018.

These changes pose real threats to the highly speculative pre-sale condo market in BC, and if successful, will likely be implemented in other large urban centres, such as Toronto, Montreal and then across the country.

In recent years, pre-sale buyers have made out like bandits, securing pre-sale contracts with no proof of funds, without having financing in place, or the ability to secure financing and in many cases these buyers have absolutely no intention of closing upon completion of the condo, instead, flipping the contract to other buyers at a profit, without paying the tax on the gain.

The CRA frowns on buyers who flip condo contracts once a profit has been realized and have cracked down on this process, albeit, not enough, and not just on those who have been taking part.  The CRA has also assessed buyers who have legitimately sold their units and who have met all of the requirements for ownership, however it’s much easier for the CRA to determine everyone is guilty than to have to pull the legitimate from the pile of illegitimate.

These contract flippers have been successful because there is no title registration through BC land titles which means the best that the CRA can do is take the developer to court in order to obtain the list of pre-sale buyers who have flipped their contract, or go to court and seek information through a Requirement for Information, but the CRA must have evidence to support their claim that buyers have flipped condo contracts without declaring the capital gain.

All in all, this is just another area where the CRA is tightening up regulations thanks to the BC Ministry of Finance, and we will soon see this process come to an end.  In the meantime, there will be a whole bunch of taxpayers who will be assessed by the CRA, and there will be a 50% Gross Negligence penalty attached to that assessment.

Taxpayers who have been assessed by the CRA and who have done nothing wrong, should contact inTAXicating Tax Services at info@intaxicating.ca, and discuss our strategy for assisting taxpayers.

Fired CRA Employee Denied Access to Tax Records… Duh!

A Superior Court judge has dismissed the application of a former Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) employee requesting the CRA produce various third-party records for use in his defence.

Christopher Casola of Sudbury faces charges including breach of trust by accessing taxpayer information other than for the public good, fraudulently accessing a CRA computer, as well as two counts that allege that the breach of trust and unauthorized use of a computer were done for the benefit of The Bacchus Motorcycle Club, and he faces eight counts involving several weapons offences, including possession of an SKS assault rifle, alleged to have occurred in 2016.

The CRA will fire, and prosecute those who access information which they are not entitled to, and because the CRA’s computer system tracks all accesses (including date, time, and how long they were there) it can be a very easy case to make.

Oddly, in his defense, the accused requested access to various CRA records, including the mainframe computer that contains the records of all individuals who have filed a tax return; the CRA Matching Action Review System (MARS) database accessible on servers between March 26, 2014, and Jan. 7, 2015; a data dump of the entire Notepad option in the MARS database; as well as what is referred to as the “entire CRA workload audit trail” in connection with the review of the accused’s work that was undertaken by the CRA after security concerns became known.

In a decision delivered July 11, Justice Dan Cornell wrote that the applicant had stated the records were necessary to duplicate the CRA’s internal review, which allegedly indicated Casola, a former assessment processing clerk in the electronic processing and records division at the Sudbury Tax Centre, had accessed the files of several individuals with alleged connections to another motorcycle club, thereby contravening the agency’s code of ethics and conduct.

Justice Cornell accepted the Crown’s argument, however, that the applicant did not articulate why they required entries for dates other that those when the alleged unauthorized access occurred.

“Despite being asked on more than one occasion to provide a reason for the requests that have been made, the only answer that was given is that the accused ‘wants to recreate the CRA process to double check the results to see if the results are accurate’,” the justice wrote. “This is not sufficient to establish that the information that is being sought is likely relevant to an issue that may arise at trial.

“The applicant did not provide an expert report, or for that matter, outline any possible concerns about the accuracy of the information that was provided or to raise questions about the process that was followed by the CRA during the review of the CRA records. In the end, all that was put forward in support of the request for the production of third party records were vague assertions that there was a problem with the results of the searches that had been undertaken.”

Those “vague assertions” amount to nothing more than “sheer speculation,” Cornell wrote, and “fall far short of satisfying the onus that lies upon the applicant to establish that such third party records should be produced in order to permit the accused to make full answer and defence.”

“In view of the fact that I have determined that the information sought is not likely relevant to an issue at trial or the competence of a witness to testify, I need not attempt to balance competing privacy interests of those who would be affected by disclosure against the accused’s right to be able to make full answer and defence.”

The accused could have requested a trail of his accesses through the Access to Information program available to all CRA employees and every Canadian Citizen.

 

If you would like, you can read the full decision, here; www.canlii.ca/t/hszmv.

 

Tax Debt, Tax Arrears, Taxes Owing to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Call it what you want, but it is ruining your life!

Do you have tax debt to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)?  Tax arrears causes stress each and every day on you, your business and your family? Even if you are in an arrangement with the CRA, they can change their mind on a moments notice and want more.  Knowing that the CRA can take all your money, or close your business at any time for your Tax Debt cannot help you sleep at night…

Everybody has answers for you which best suits themselves or their business.

We have a solution that best suits you and your business.

It’s called the Debt Diagnosis, and it’s a service we provide that no other tax solution / tax resolution / tax negotiator can provide.

Our Debt Diagnosis Program looks at the specifics of your CRA debt, your other debts, your current compliance situation, your assets, liabilities, ability to pay, and a whole bunch of other factors and we provide you with your options, suggestions and recommendations regarding how to proceed with your CRA debt(s).

We’ll advise you about options – options you know about already, like the CRA’s Taxpayer Relief Program, and the CRA’s Voluntary Disclosures Program – and we will tell you about options you don’t know about, and you won’t find in writing, because the CRA doesn’t want you to know about them.

As a former CRA Collections Senior Officer – who spent almost 11-years collecting primarily business taxes – GST/HST, Payroll, Corporate Tax, and Personal tax – and managing CRA Collections staff – I understand Director’s Liability, Non-Arms Length Assessments, Write-Off’s, Payment Arrangements, Taxpayer Relief, and everything else to do with collections better than anyone!

I created the Write-Off checklist that many CRA office’s use to write off their accounts.

I have resolved files that the CRA never thought they would collect on, while I was working at the CRA, and working outside the CRA.

Knowing the ins and outs of the CRA’s Collections division helps you!

Remember this: Getting in to Tax Debt takes time. Getting out of Tax Debt also takes time!

If someone is offering you a quick solution, then they are trying to get you into Bankruptcy, or filing a Consumer Proposal.  Insolvency firms are creating “tax” centres to “help” you with your tax debts.  They offer prompt resolution of CRA Collection actions, such as; Requirements to Pay and Wage Garnishments because if you go bankrupt the CRA cannot collect their debts… Most of the time.

Learn what options you have, which are specific to your Tax Debt / Tax Compliance matters.

The CRA has options available for Taxpayers who cannot pay their debts.

Use those, instead of trading Tax Debt for Credit Problems.

Talk to us at inTAXicating!

Find us @ http://www.inTAXicating.ca

Email us at info@intaxicating.ca

Learn the plan to take control of your Tax Debt, and all your other tax-related / debt-related issues and get moving in the right direction today.

There is no need to run to a trustee.

Or spend thousands and thousands of dollars to a firm who is going to promise solutions – tell you the CRA won’t budge on their position – and then tell you that the best option is to go bankrupt.

Get started on resolving your tax debt(s) today.  The CRA still works in the summer!

http://www.inTAXicating.ca