Member of Nova Scotia First Nation charged with evading $2.2 million in taxes

The Canada Revenue Agency have announced that they have charged a member of Nova Scotia’s Millbrook First Nation with evading $2.2 million in GST/HST.

The CRA charged Lisa L. Marshall who was the operator of the Traditional Trading Post, a convenience store, located on the Cole Harbour reserve of the Millbrook First Nation using the Excise Tax Act with wilfully evading or attempting to evade compliance with that Act.

The CRA alleges that between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2015, the store failed to collect or remit $2,284,144.72 in Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) related to the sale of tobacco products to non-Aboriginals.

The agency says people who fail to remit tax owing are liable not only for the full amount, but also to penalties and interest, and if convicted, the court can levy a fine of up to 200% of the tax evaded and also impose a prison term of up to 5 years.

The moral of the story here, is that if you are required to charge, collect and remit GST or HST, you should.  The CRA treats Trust Funds – money taken by registrants and held in trust until they are remitted to the Crown – very seriously, and those who misuse Trust Funds are dealt with swiftly and to the full extent of the law allowed to be used by the CRA.

 

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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.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Knows Who Cheats on their Taxes!

Are you on the Canada Revenue Agencies radar?  How about on the CRA’s Audit Radar?  Have you been “flagged”?

Have you ever wondered how the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) decides who to audit?  Are there red flags?  Or does the CRA know how you operate your business which makes you more or less likely to be audited?

Here is the answer that you might be looking for;

The CRA knows who Cheats on their Taxes!

Do you fit their profile?

Are you at risk?

First, some background.

While I was still working at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), we released the results of a study that was put together to profile what kind of person poses the most risk for the CRA’s collections and audit groups.

The CRA spent a lot of time going through the main accounts; personal tax, payroll, GST/HST, and Corporate Tax, and we looked at who filed on time, who filed late (and how late they filed), and who was regularly compliant, and who needed a follow up verification audit, and what the result of those audits were.

This study focused on Tax Compliance, specifically;

  • Percentage of Taxpayers who accurately reported income and expenses (95%)
  • Percentage of Taxpayers who file on time (93%)
  • Percentage of Taxpayers who made payments on time with their filing (91%).

When it comes to reporting compliance or honestly reporting all your income and/or expenses, this study found that males are more likely to underreport their tax owing than females.

The study also found that underreporting is highest among taxpayers aged 35 to 54 and lowest among taxpayers under 35.

Underreporting of tax was also lowest for taxpayers who are married and highest for those who are separated, with single taxpayers somewhere in between.

Not surprisingly, underreporting of tax is higher among taxpayers whose main source of income is either capital gains or self-employment income versus taxpayers whose main source of income is wages, where most of the tax is withheld at source by the employer.

So who is on the CRA’s radar?

The prime candidates for the CRA to audit, or perform a desk review of expenses, are the separated or divorced males between the ages of 35-54 years old.

Do you fall into that category?

If so, know that the CRA is keeping one eye on you and the other on what you report and when it is reported.

Contact us at inTAXicating, and let us help you ensure that you remain compliant, and ensure that you have the knowledge necessary to organize your records so that you can quickly and easily get through a CRA audit.

EXAMPLE:

Here is an example of a case where the CRA used the criteria identified earlier to quickly descend on a taxpayer who fell behind in his filing and remitting duties.

Case: Tax Cheat?  Or Disorganized Business Owner?

I was approached by a business owner who ran very loosely with his books and records.  He kept a box of receipts and while most of the business receipts made the box, many got lost along the way.  Additionally, this business owner charged business expenses on his personal credit card, and personal expenses on his business card.  He travelled quite a lot for work, and he posted a lot of content on social media, but he failed to keep a thorough and accurate log documenting his personal versus business travel.

Additionally, because he was always on the go, had no time to review the details of the tax side of his business.  He had money in his business bank account, then he knew he was earning money.  At year-end, he would bring his half-completed records and his shoebox to his accountant for the preparation of his returns.

In June he would receive a refund.

A series of events, however, changed his life forever.

  1. His accountant began to get busy
  2. As a result, he was late getting payroll figures, and was late making the payroll remittance
  3. Then the GST/HST numbers were delayed, so that filing was late
  4. His personal tax filings were delayed
  5. His business tax filing was delayed.
  6. His business made money.
  7. While all of this was going on – he continued to send his info to the CA, and pay the CA’s invoices.  He would get the odd notice from the CRA and send it to his accountant to “take care of”.

This is very typical and a common occurence.

What he didn’t know was that everything was not okay.

One day a CRA field officer showed up to discuss his non-compliance and to arrange a payroll audit because the company was 6-months behind on remittances.  There was also a balance owing to the CRA of over $35,000.

Shocked, he contacted his CA who said that she would look into it, that it was going to take some time and she felt the CRA was completely wrong.

Convinced that the accountant was right, the business owner went back to work, and the accountant was going to find the error and fix the problem.

Only problem that he didn’t know was that there was no “error”.  The balance owing to the CRA was legitimate.  By filing late over that 6-month period, the accountant had amassed a significant balance due to late filing penalties and the balance was jumping by leaps and bounds as a result of the 10% interest the CRA charges on outstanding balances (compounding daily).

Then one day he received a call from one of his main suppliers who was concenred because not only did he cheque bounce, but there was a CRA officer there earlier in the day asking questions.

He contacted his accountant.

She appeared stunned and said that she would call the CRA and fix it.

She was just buying time.

A week later, the garnishment was still on the account, interest was accruing, and the accountant was telling stories of the CRA being unfair, and mean, and not listening or returning calls.

Frustrated and panicked that he might have to close his business without a bank account, he contacted his CA and asked for his books and records.

She refused.  Realizing that this was the end of the relationship with her client, she told him that she had done a lot of work with the CRA and she demanded payment before she would give up his information.

He refused to pay – how could he?  He had no access to his bank account and the CRA had taken all of his funds.

In fact, it took him 8-months and a small claims court date for this process to resolve itself.  She took him to court for unpaid work, and thankfully, the judge was wise to this CA and her practices and awarded the client his books and records in return for payment of the work actually completed, not the entire invoice.

The damage was done.  The business was also close to being done.

The CRA doesn’t care about the reasons why someone becomes non-compliant – they look at the business, the owner, and then set their course to fix it.

The fact that this business owner fit the category did not help him at all, as the CRA quickly and aggressively went after every asset that he had, raised assessments for the missing payroll and GST/HST figures, and sent Requirements to Pay to his business bank account, contacted his receivables (clients) and quickly moved to raise director’s liability so they could go after his personal assets.

Conclusion

Running a business is difficult.

Running a business without a business bank account is also difficult.

Running a business without a bank account, after the CRA notified your clients that you owe considerable amounts of tax money is next to impossible.

What killed this business was a combination of bad accounting, bad advice, lies, deception and some really bad luck.

The reality is that many, many businesses and individuals have this experience on a daily basis.  It is next to impossible for the CRA to determine if the information being told to them is legitimate or a made up story – but when the owner of the business is a perfect fit for commiting tax fraud – the CRA takes notice.

Could this have been fixed?  Of course.

If you owe money to the CRA, or if you have fallen behind on compliance, or if you suspect that your tax advisor is giving you bad advice, contact us now.  At inTAXicating, we’ll look at the facts, and help you run your business while we work on solving the problem.

Visit our website @ www.intaxicating.ca.

Send us an email to: Info@intaxicating.ca

 

 

Former Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Auditor Not Guilty of Fraud

A former Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) auditor and his wife were found not guilty of fraud when a judge rules that the CRA failed to prove that the fraud was intentional.

This is significant, folks!

The original article can be found here;

https://www.surreynowleader.com/news/former-canada-revenue-agency-auditing-employee-and-wife-found-not-guilty-of-tax-evasion/

What I truly hope is that this ruling provides the CRA with a much clearer understanding that there are actually some Taxpayers and businesses (and even former employees) who might not fully understand the CRA’s rules and regulations and their application, and that there exists a chance that people make mistakes.

I’m not saying in this case that there was a mistake – and I don;t believe that the judge was saying that either, but what was very clear from this ruling is that the for the CRA to win a case they need proof and facts.

The CRA obviously will be appealing this decision.

My experience in the CRA has afforded me this insight which I happily pass along to each of you who read this…  It’s okay to make mistakes.  We all do.  The CRA does not expect each and every Canadian Taxpayer to be tax experts, but where the CRA has zero tolerance is where Taxpayers try to circumvent the rules and do so knowingly.  At that point, you can’t claim you didn’t know the rules.  You’ll be no mercy from the Crown at that point in time.

As well, there are many, many, many opportunities to resolve the tax issues before having to bear the expenses of going to tax court!  This ruling was the first of it’s kind, and considering how many people want to sue the CRA or take the CRA to court, it makes you wonder who is advising them, and who is paying their bills!

To understand where you stand and what your options are, you can start by contacting inTAXicating Tax Services, at http://www.intaxicating.ca, and start dealing with you tax issues with the facts.

info@intaxicating.ca

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.

 

How to Make a Payment to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

Do you owe money to the CRA?  Are you in Collections?  Do you have CRA debt?  Are you looking to make an installment payment, or a payroll remittance?  How about a GST/HST payment or remittance?

If any of these apply to you, then you need to know how to make a payment to the to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

If you have to make a payment to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for either tax arrears or with a filed return, or as a remittance / installment, you have no excuses!  You can use any of the following options:

  • Your financial institution’s telephone or online banking service
  • The CRA’s pre-authorized debit service offered through My Account, which lets you:
    • set up a payment from your bank account to the CRA on a pre-set date
    • pay an overdue amount or make instalment payments
  • The CRA’s My Payment service, which lets you make payments online. You can use this service if you have Visa®Debit, Debit MasterCard® or Interac®
  • Online at a participating financial institution
  • Through a third-party service provider which offers payment by credit card or PayPal.
  • In person at any Canada Post outlet using cash or debit card.

 

What if you cannot pay in full, or if the CRA is all over you and you want to make a payment but don’t want them immediately sending a Requirement to Pay to your bank account and freezing it? 

 

If you owe money to the CRA but are unable to pay the full amount now, or if you need the CRA to work with you and set up a payment arrangement – to make smaller payments over time until you have paid your full debt (including penalties and interest), you should contact inTAXicating Tax Services through our website www.intaxicating.ca to schedule a meeting.

Aside from helping you make that payment, and avoid the garnishment, we can also assist with a wide variety of tax matters.

We can also assist with the potential cancelling, waiving or reducing the amount of penalties and / or interest you owe through the CRA’s Taxpayer Relief Program.  Results are never guaranteed, however, you stand a 0% chance of having the penalties and / or interest reduced or waived entirely if you do not apply.

Email: info@intaxicating.ca

You Filed Your Tax Return to the CRA. You Owe CRA Money. Now What?

You have filed you Canadian personal tax return by the April 30th deadline and you owe the CRA money.  Now what?  You have heard horror stories about how the Canada Revenue Agency goes about collecting taxes dollars.

You need to act fast, right?

Well that is exactly what is wrong with tax-filing season in Canada.

What about if you owe more to the CRA because you already have a balance, or if you happen to be self-employed and you plan on having your tax returns prepared after the April 30th deadline, but before the June 15th deadline for self-employed Canadians, and you find out that you owe money to the CRA?

Or, what if you carry a balance year-over-year because between taxes owing and installment payments, you just can’t keep up?

What do you do?

What are your options?

If you listen to the radio, you are likely to have noticed that about every 3rd ad is a commercials talking about debt.  In these commercials, very calm voices talk about how it feels to be in debt and how they a simple solution for debt.  They even refer to “programs” which are supported or endorsed by the Canadian government. and in 10 minutes / 15 minutes / 20 minutes, you too can be debt free.

It’s convenient.  Too convenient…

Their solution is bankruptcy or a consumer proposal, and their solution is a great way for you to no longer have debt owing to the Canada Revenue Agency, or your credit card provider, etc.

What they fail to mention, is that you are paying them money to trade your debt problem for a credit problem.

Sure, you won’t owe the CRA any more, but now that the euphoria of that “win” has worn off, you now have to face reality that you have no credit for 3-7 years at best.  During that 3-7 years, you won’t have a credit card unless it’s a prepaid one, and you won’t be able to get a loan, and you cannot be the director of a corporation.

During that period where you are under a  proposal or in bankruptcy, the CRA can, and still will raise assessment where they are allowed by law to, such as raising s160/s325 assessments for assets transferred to avoid paying the CRA, or if you act as a director even though the director is someone else’s name.

Forget about it if the CRA has already placed a lien on an asset.  That survives a bankruptcy.

But the commercials make it sound SO appealing, so quick, and so good.

I’ve always felt that bankruptcy and Consumer Proposals are great options for people with no options.  If your debt is tax-related then you really should know what your options are before jumping at the first thing you hear and making these Trustee / Insolvency firms rich, so they can advertise even more, but up bigger billboards and open their own “tax solution” businesses to “help” you with your tax problems.

Don’t fall for the easy way out, because you get way more than you bargained for!

Instead, contact us, inTAXicating, and let us diagnose your debt, and tell you the best options for you, and not what works best you the trustee or the CRA.

http://www.intaxicating.ca