2018 Federal Budget Highlights: 12 Changes Related to Taxation, the CRA, and you, the Canadian Taxpayer

The Federal Liberal government has just unveiled their 3rd budget, and in doing so will be increasing spending by roughly $20 billion dollars, bringing the federal deficit to roughly $670 billion dollars.

Looking at the tax issues, here are the main items which come from the budget this afternoon;

  1. 5-Week “Take-it-or-leave-it” Paternity Leave.

The government implemented a 5-week “take it or leave it” parental leave, pretty much like what Quebec has, in order to entice more dads to take paternity leave.  This would begin June 2019 (not sure why it takes this long to implement) and the Liberals expect it to cost taxpayers $1.2 billion dollars.

What this does not do is change the corporate culture which deters dads from taking time off, nor does it entice more moms to join the workforce.

What might have helped, would be more available daycare spaces, or fixing the Live-in Caregiver program which worked very well until it didn’t.

2.  Throwing bad money after bad money – Phoenix Pay system

If you have been following the Phoenix payroll fiasco that has been going on in the CRA, you would know that the CRA has already spent a lot of money on a payroll system which didn’t work, and then a ton of money to try and fix it.

Now, the Liberals have announced that it intends to eventually move away from Phoenix and explore the “next generation of the federal government’s pay system, but before doing so, the Liberals provided $16 million over the next 2 years to “research” a new pay system.

I’ll do that on my own, for half that amount.!

While “researching,” the CRA will now have $431.4 million over 6 years to try to fix the existing Phoenix system.

When you add the hundreds of millions of dollars that the Liberal government has already invested in fixing the Phoenix pay system, and the researching costs, and the budgeted costs, you will come to a figure of roughly $900 million on a system that this government will move away from.

This system was supposed to save the government roughly $70 million per year, starting in the 2016-17 fiscal year, and the Auditor General even said that scrapping the pay system would be the worst thing the government could do because if they start from scratch, they could have the same issues with another system!

3.  Help for the CRA to answer their phones!

The Liberal government is providing $206 million over 5-years to the CRA to help the Agency answer their phones.  This issue came up in November when the Auditor General noted that the CRA’s call centre only picked up the phone about one-third of the time.

The money will be used to improve the CRA’s telephone service, improve their online services and increase the number of community-based programs which help low-income people prepare their tax forms.  Ideally the call centre hours will also be expanded, and more training will be provided to ensure that more correct answers are provided.

4.  Private Company Passive Investment Income

Beginning taxation year 2019, there will be a phasing out of access to the small business deduction for Canadian Controlled Private Corporations (CCPC’s) which earn more than $50,000 of investment income.  The current rules for the refundable tax on dividends paid by CCPCs will also be amended.

CCPC’s are entitled to a preferential tax rate on up to $500,000 of qualifying active business income – the “small business deduction.”

Going forward, CCPC’s who earn income or net capital gains from property (not properties used in an active business) will be treated as follows; For each $1 of investment income earned over $50,000, the small business deduction limit will be reduced by $5, so once a CCPC has investment income greater than $150,000, they will lose their small business deduction entirely.

The government has decided that Canadians who earn income passively, ie/ rental income, deserve to pay more tax because either;

a. It’s not fair to Canadians who have to “work” to earn income

b. The Liberals got elected taxing the “rich” and by earning money this way – damn you – you are on their list, or,

c. The Liberals would tax a tax if they could because they need tax revenue to pay for all their promises.

5. New Tax Rules for Trusts to begin in 2021.

The government needs more taxes, hence the new tax reporting requirements for trusts which were unveiled in the budget.  The intention of these new rules is to provide the CRA with information related to beneficial owners, or potential beneficial owners of trusts.

Currently, trusts which do not earn income or make distributions in a taxation year are generally not currently required to file a T3 trust return.  (Trusts are required to file T3 returns if there is tax payable in the year or if the trust distributes income or capital to its beneficiaries.)

These new rules apply to express trusts which are resident in Canada as well as to non-resident trusts currently required to file T3 returns.  Each trust will have to provide the CRA with the identity of all of its trustees, beneficiaries and settlors, as well as each person who has the ability – through the trust terms or related agreements – to exercise control over trustee decisions regarding the appointment of income or capital of the trust, such as a protector.

The budget currently grants an exemption to mutual fund trusts, segregated funds, trusts governed by registered plans, graduated rate estates and qualified disability trusts, non-profit organizations and registered charities, and certain trusts that have been in existence for less than three months or that hold less than $50,000 in specified passive assets.

6. Tiered Partnerships Losses and At-Risk Rules

Essentially, partnerships wanted to use losses from one partner to lower the income of another partner, but the CRA disagreed.  The matter went to court and the CRA lost.  This budget reverses the CRA’s loss, making it a win, and worse than that, it is effective the date of the budget, which was February 27, 2018.  Losses are now lost.

7. Increased Assessment Period for CRA on Foreign Interests

Effective February 27, 2018, the CRA will have an extended reassessment period of taxpayers in respect of income arising in connection with foreign corporations in which they have at least a 10% interest in because it’s a long, often difficult process for the CRA to audit these foreign affiliates.

8. Reduced Filing Deadline to 6 Months for T1134.

Effective 2020, Taxpayers who currently had 15-months to file Form T1134, now have 6-months to do so.

9. Fighting Aggressive International Tax Avoidance

The Liberal government committed to fight international tax avoidance by strengthening rules related to controlled foreign corporations, addressing issues of treaty abuse, adopting the OECD revised Transfer Pricing Guidelines, and of greatest significance is the pledge to abide by tax reporting requirements of countries which Canada bilateral exchange agreements – and providing information to the tax authorities of these countries.

The acceptance of the OECD multilateral competent authority agreement now increases the countries which Canada can provide information to, and get information from.

Additionally, the CRA will be able to participate in what was called a “spontaneous exchange of information” on certain tax rulings with other tax administrations as part of a coordinated international effort to counter harmful tax practices.

The CRA also gets $38.7 million to expand its offshore compliance activities through the use of improved risk assessment systems and business intelligence, and to facilitate the hiring of additional auditors.

The anticipation is that the CRA will need these auditors to act on the new information they will be receiving as a part of the OECD/G20 Common Reporting Standard participation.

Another key tax issue relates to reassessment periods and non-residents of Canada to address a scenario where the CRA reassesses a taxpayer in order to reduce or eliminate a loss in a taxation year which results from a non-arm’s length transaction with a non-resident.  Currently, the CRA cannot reassess the taxation year to which that loss was carried back because the reassessment period has elapsed, but going forward, the CRA will have 6 years after the normal reassessment period to reassess the year to which the loss was carried back in such circumstances.

Another change impacts a scenario where a taxpayer contests a requirement for information (RFI) or an application for a compliance order – as this period will not be included when computing the time limit for the CRA to reassess.

This “stop-the-clock” rule is similar to the existing rule that applies for purposes of requirements for foreign-based information.

10. GST/HST

GST/HST is applicable on the fair market value of the management and administrative services provided by the general partner to an investment limited partnership where consideration becomes due or is paid before September 8, 2017.

GST/HST now applies to management and administrative services rendered by the general partner on or after September 8, 2017, unless GST/HST was charged by the general partner before that date.

The GST/HST is generally payable on the fair market value of management and administrative services in the tax year in which these services are rendered (however rules to calculate FMV, and what constitutes FMV were not provided at this time).

11. Excise – Cannabis Tax

A new excise duty framework for cannabis products under the Excise Act, 2001 applies to all products available for legal purchase, including fresh and dried cannabis, cannabis oils, and seeds and seedlings for home cultivation.

The cannabis taxation program will be administered by the federal government on behalf of most provincial and territorial governments on a coordinated basis. 75% of the taxation revenues from a combined $1 per gram / 10% of the price of the product, whichever is higher, excise duty rate will flow to participating provinces and territories, with the federal government receiving the remaining 25%.

12. Increased Funding to CRA and Tax Court of Canada

The budget provided money to the CRA and the Tax Court of Canada to:

  • $79 million over 5 years and then $15 million per year going forward in order to develop an electronic platform for processing trust returns;
  • $90.6 million over 5-years to help the CRA pursue domestic and international cases which have been identified as high-risk potential danger of loss through enhanced risk assessment systems;
  • $30 million over 5-years to enhance security measures aimed at better protecting the confidentiality of taxpayer information; and
  • $41.9 million over 5-year, and $9.3 million annually going forward to provide support for new front-line registry and judicial staff, most of whom are expected to support the Tax Court of Canada.

And so much more…

 

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Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP) Changes March 1st, 2018.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) have announced that effective March 1, 2018, changes will be made to the Voluntary Disclosures Program to narrow its eligibility criteria.

What is the Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP)?

The VDP provides Canadians a second chance to change a tax return which has been previously filed with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), OR to file a return(s) which you should have filed with the CRA.

Your application under the VDP – if approved – allows you to file or amend a return without the CRA prosecuting you, or assessing penalties.

Who Can Apply?

Taxpayers!

Taxpayers can be;
• Individuals
• Employers
• Corporations
• Partnerships
• Trusts
• GST/HST registrant / claimants
• Registered exporter of softwood lumber products

You can apply, or you can have an authorized representative – like an accountant, or tax professional like inTAXicating, submit the application on your behalf.

How Many Times Can You Apply?

The CRA would prefer you use VDP once and stay up-to-date on filings from that point onwards, however should circumstances warrant it, you can apply again.

Conditions of a Valid Application

To qualify for relief, the application must:
• Be voluntary – You come to the CRA before the CRA gets to you.
• Be complete – You cannot file for one year, for example, you have to file everything and disclose everything.
• Penalty: Involve the application or potential application of a penalty and, for GST/HST applications, the application or potential application of a penalty or interest
• Time: Include information that is at least one year past due for income tax applications and, for GST/HST applications, at least one reporting period past due; and
• Include payment of the estimated tax owing.

The Process

Submit an application to the CRA, and if the CRA approves it, the returns in question are filed or amended and there is no penalties or fear of prosecution (unless you are engaged in criminal activities).

The CRA then expects you to pay the balance owing – or make arrangements to pay – because while there is no penalties, there is still interest accruing on the account.

* The above information applies until February 28, 2018.

The CRA will update their VDP guidelines as of March 1, 2018, so in order to be considered under the existing VDP, the CRA must receive your application, including your name, on or before February 28, 2018.

What Changes March 1st, 2018? 

On March 1, 2018, when the new VDP comes into effect, it narrows the eligibility criteria to access the Program and imposes additional conditions on applicants, making it more difficult for those who intentionally avoid their tax obligations to benefit from the VDP.

Income Tax Disclosures

With the changes to the program, two tracks will be created for income tax disclosures:

1. Limited Program

The Limited Program provides limited relief for applications that disclose non-compliance where the facts suggest that there is an element of intentional conduct on the part of the taxpayer or a closely related party.

Under the Limited Program, taxpayers will not be referred for criminal prosecution with respect to the disclosure and will not be charged gross negligence penalties, however, they will be charged other penalties and interest as applicable.

2. General Program

Under the General Program, taxpayers will not be charged penalties and will not be referred for criminal prosecution related to the information being disclosed. The CRA will provide partial interest relief for years preceding the three most recent years of returns required to be filed.

GST/HST, excise tax, excise duty, softwood lumber products export charge and air travellers security charge disclosures

For GST/HST, excise tax, excise duty, softwood lumber products export charge and air travellers security charge disclosures, three categories will be created:

1. Wash Transactions

Wash transactions are generally transactions where a supplier has failed to charge and collect GST/HST from a registrant entitled to a full input tax credit. This category provides relief only for applications involving GST/HST “wash transactions” that are eligible for a reduction of penalty and interest under the policy set out in GST/HST Memorandum 16.3.1, Reduction of Penalty and Interest in Wash Transaction Situations.

Registrants will not be charged penalties nor interest and will not be referred for criminal prosecution related to the information being disclosed.

A registrant must now disclose information on any non-compliance during the four years before the application is filed.

2. Limited Program

This category provides limited relief for applications that disclose non-compliance where the facts suggest that there is an element of intentional conduct on the part of the registrant or a closely related party.

Under the Limited Program, registrants will not be referred for criminal prosecution with respect to the disclosure and will not be charged a gross negligence penalty, however, they will be charged other penalties and interest as applicable.

3. General Program

All of cases fall under the General Program where registrants will not be charged penalties and will not be referred for criminal prosecution related to the information being disclosed.

The CRA will provide partial interest relief and a registrant must now disclose information on any non-compliance during the four years before the application is filed.

How to Determine if a Disclosure Falls under the General or Limited Program?

For both income tax and GST/HST disclosures, the determination of whether an application should be processed under the General or Limited Program will be made on a case-by-case basis and in doing so, the CRA may consider a number of factors, including but not limited to:
• The dollar amounts involved;
• The number of years of non-compliance; and
• The sophistication of the taxpayer/registrant.

Other Significant Changes to the VDP

1. Payment

Payment of estimated taxes owing: Payment of the estimated taxes owing will be required as a condition to qualify for the program (When a taxpayer does not have the ability to make payment at the time of filing the VDP application, they may request to be considered for a payment arrangement.)

2. Anonymous Disclosures Eliminated

The “no-names” disclosure method has been eliminated and replaced by a new pre-disclosure discussion service.

The process for taxpayers and authorized representatives to make disclosures on a no-names basis has been eliminated. Under the new “pre-disclosure discussion” service, taxpayers or their authorized representatives can have a conversation with a CRA official on an anonymous basis, but that discussion does not constitute acceptance into the VDP.

3. Large Corporations

Generally, applications by corporations with gross revenue in excess of $250 million in at least two of their last five taxation years, and any related entities, will be considered under the Limited Program.

4. Transfer-Pricing

Due to the complexity of transfer pricing issues, applications will now be referred to a specialized Transfer Pricing Review Committee, which will review the applications instead of the VDP.

For efficiency, taxpayers may send their applications directly to this committee.

5. Review by Specialists

Applications involving complex issues or large dollar amounts will be reviewed for completeness by the relevant specialist from the program area prior to being accepted.

6. Disclosure of Advisors

The name of the advisor who assisted with the non-compliance should now be included in the application.

7. Cancellation of Previous Relief

The new VDP regulations provide the CRA with the ability to cancel relief which was previous provided to a taxpayer if it is subsequently discovered that a taxpayer’s application was not complete due to a misrepresentation.

8. Mandatory Waiver of Rights of Objection and Appeal

Under the Limited Program, participants will have to sign a waiver of their right to object and appeal in relation to the specific issue disclosed.

 

If you need assistance with a Voluntary Disclosure – at any time – we can help!

Email: info@intaxicating.ca

On the phone: 416.833.1581 (If you are outside of Toronto, and would like to speak to us live, please email us, and we will gladly call you at your convenience)

On our website: http://www.intaxicating.ca (Portal coming soon – currently under construction).

Changes to the CRA’s RC59 Business Authorization Form

The Canada Revenue Agency has announced to tax preparers and representatives that if they wish to have online access to a business client’s tax information after May 15, 2017 they will have to complete the authorization request in the Represent a Client section on the CRA web site.

In order to do this, tax representatives have to log into Represent a Client and select “Review and update” from the Welcome page.  They then select “Authorization request” at the bottom of the “Manage clients” tab and follow the instructions.

Once the request is complete, tax representatives will need to print the signature page for their client to sign. Once it is signed, a scanned copy of the document may be sent to the CRA using its submit documents feature.

Using this method will allow tax professionals to gain access to their business clients’ information in five days or less instead of the 15 days it currently takes with form RC59.

If, however, you still prefer your current process, you can still use form RC59 to request access to your business clients’ information by telephone or mail.

And if you need to have authorization in less that 5 days, you should reach out to us here at inTAXicating, because with almost 11-years’ experience working in the CRA’s Collections department, we know how to get that authorization in the hands of someone in minutes!

Follow us on Twitter @inTAXicating.

Follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/intaxicating

Follow us at our website; http://www.intaxicating.ca

Send us an email: info@intaxicating.ca

Or leave us a comment anywhere else!

Expected Changes to CRA’s VDP: Preview

On June 9th, 2017, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) launched a 60-day online consultation with Canadians on the Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP), in which the CRA is seeking input from the public to ensure that the program is more “responsive, innovative and fairer for all Canadians”.

One of the key asks by the CRA is this question; “We are asking you – when should the VDP apply? Should it apply only to those who knowingly choose to not pay their taxes or also to those who make mistakes on their returns?”

Based on that question, many organizations have been putting out materials stating that the CRA is changing the program and that it is already been decided, however that is not the case, yet, as the consultation period has not even ended.

What Is Voluntary Disclosure?

The Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP) gives Canadian taxpayers a chance to change a tax return they have previously filed or file a return that should have filed and by making these changes through the VDP, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) may give relief from prosecution and penalties.

By applying to the CRA under the VDP, a Canadian taxpayer might only pay the taxes owing plus interest.

The disclosure MUST meet all four of the following conditions to be valid;
1. A penalty would apply
2. It is voluntary, which means it is made before the CRA takes any compliance action against you
3. the information is at least one year overdue
4. it includes all the relevant information – meaning it is full and complete.

Anyone can use the VDP, including individuals, businesses, employers, payers, trusts and estates, whether a resident or a non-resident of Canada.

Why Changes to the VDP?

When the CRA found out that there were Canadian taxpayers hiding money offshore, they began to consider whether the current VDP was fair for all Canadians. Should a taxpayer who forgets to include an income source be granted the same relief as a taxpayer hiding money overseas and failing to disclose that income in order to reduce the amount of taxes they would have to pay in Canada?

The answer clearly is no, it’s not fair, and the CRA wants to change the program to make it easier for actual errors and omissions to be fixed, while making it much more difficult to allow tax evaders to utilize the program to avoid prosecution.

The most meaningful change expected in the VDP is the introduction of a two-track system:
1) the General Program, and
2) the Limited Program.

The Limited Program would limit the availability of the program in certain circumstances or where there is a “major non-compliance” as such relief for penalty and partial interest relief could be seen as “overly generous.”
Under the General Program, taxpayers who qualify for the VDP will not be charged penalties or referred for criminal prosecution with respect to the disclosure, and may be entitled to partial relief for any interest in respect of assessments preceding the three most recent years of returns required to be filed.

Whereas under the Limited Program, applications that disclose “major non-compliance” will not receive the same level of relief as they would under the current VDP. Taxpayers will not be referred for criminal prosecution and will not be charged a gross negligence penalty with respect to the disclosure, however, other penalties will be charged as applicable such as a late filing penalty, a failure to remit penalty, an instalment penalty or an omission penalty. Additionally, no interest relief will be provided.

What Might Constitute “Major Non-Compliance?”

Major non-compliance might look like this:
• Taxpayers who undertook active efforts to avoid detection through the use of offshore vehicles or other means
• Large dollar amounts being disclosed
• Multiple years of non-compliance
• A sophisticated taxpayer, or use of sophisticated tax avoidance techniques under the advice of a sophisticated professional, and
• The disclosure is made the CRA has released information aimed at cracking down on taxpayers failing to disclose all their income

The determination of whether an application should be processed under the Limited Program will be made on a case by case basis.

Other Considerations
While determining the status of an application to the VDP, the CRA will also consider;
• If they will require payment in full of the estimated taxes owing as a condition of acceptance
• If transfer pricing cases and applications from corporations with gross revenue in excess of $250 million qualify
• If applications that disclose income from the proceeds of crime will be allowed access to the program

The CRA will continue to cancel VDP applications if they learn that the disclosure was not full and complete, or if was intentionally inaccurate.

The release of the changes to the CRA’s VDP will be announced in the fall, and the above is speculation as to what the new program will look like. If you, or anyone you know has failed to fully or accurately disclosure income, it’s best for them to speak to a professional now, especially before there are changes to the program which might disqualify them.
At inTAXicating, we are always available to discuss the CRA’s VDP and you can find us at http://www.intaxicating.ca, or send us an email to info@inTAXicating.ca.