IRS Targets Crypto-Currency Exchange Coinbase and Wins!

A Popular cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase, has been forced by a US court order to hand over a list of 13,000 of it’s customers’ names and assorted personal information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) so that the IRS can determine who has been reporting their Crypto-Currency transactions and to tax and penalize those who have not.

The link to the original article is here;

https://news.bitcoin.com/coinbase-compelled-by-irs-to-provide-13000-customers-information/

Coinbase, a San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange notified thousands of customers, to provide the IRS with “taxpayer ID, name, birth date, address, and historical transaction records for certain higher-transacting customers during the 2013-2015 period.”

While 13,000 is a lot, if you have used Crypto-Currencies in the US, or in Canada, you might want to get filing, and fast.

Apparently, Coinbase received a summons from the IRS in late 2016 asking for a wide range of records relating to approximately 500,000 Coinbase customers.  Coinbase fought this summons in court – not sure if they won and the 13,000 is the win or if that matter is still pending but the 13,000 is a different attempt by the IRS to gather information they are entitled to under the IRC.

Still shocking to us at inTAXicating is how few Canadian and US crypto enthusiasts had even bothered to address the tax issue.

Many on both sides of the border claims that both the IRS and the CRA have been really vague on how they plan to address Crypto-Currencies, however than cannot be further from the truth.

On March 25th, 2014, the IRS issuesd this release; https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-virtual-currency-guidance; and

On March 17, 2015, the CRA issued a release about how the Canada Revenue Agency will be handing Crypto-Currencies and they have been on top of it with the most recent detailed release being January 18th, 2018.

Whether you believe in taxation or that taxation is theft – something brought in from the BNA Act of 1867, or there are privacy rights stemming from the 3rd Amendment in the US, the bottom line is this.

If you don’t report your interactions with these digital currencies, you are going to pay that tax plus penalties and interest.  Why give the government more than they are asking for?  Include the currencies on your tax return, pay the tax, and be fully compliant.

If you have failed to include your adventures in Crypto-Currencies on your tax returns, you are in trouble.  You need to contact inTAXicating and we can assist you in filing your returns to reflect those amounts.

Remember, the CRA’s Voluntary Disclosure Program is changing as of March 1st, 2018.  Once that loophile closes, it’s going to be very difficult to get a fair shake from the government.

Don’t wait, hoping there is going to be miracle court order or that the CRA or IRS will decide that they have enough taxes already.

File!

inTAXicating can be reached at info@intaxicating.ca to book an appointment.

Copy of Court Order;

Coinbase Compelled by IRS to Provide 13,000 Customers' Information
There’s plenty of misinformation regarding tax preparation and how to report digital currencies, however the CRA and IRS have been very clear.

If you have transacted publicly on any centralized exchanges such as Coinbase and are US or Canadian residents – and regardless of your opinion on the morality of tax – the IRS and the CRA have courts on their side and they can sentence you to jail.

 

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Are There Really “Red Flags” At the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)?

Are there “Red Flags” at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)?

How not to get noticed for the wrong things, this Tax Season.

One of the most commonly asked questions of me is about being “flagged” by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and how to avoid getting flagged, or, what gets your flagged.

I hate to break everyone’s bubble, however, there are no red flags!

For the majority of Canadians who file their taxes year-in, year-out, and who make remittances, make their payments, open businesses, close businesses, make money, lose money, and everything in between, your tax account is just a record of transactions, conversations and payments received and made.  Even for those Canadians who should be doing the above and don’t or who fall behind and catch-up on one mass filing, their accounts have a bit more information due to CRA research, however, No flags.

For those engaged in criminal behaviour, however, there are no “flags”, because you are being investigated criminally and whether you know it or not, the CRA knows you and is watching your activities and comparing that to what you file.  Your tax account is known because it is being actively worked by someone.  There are words or phrases placed in your permanent diary which tell anyone who reviews your account what you are up to, but it certainly doesn’t mean you’ve been red flagged.

So why do people talk about flags?

They’re actually talking about stuations like some described below which catch the attention of the screeners on a case-by-case basis, and could result in them being audited outside of their normal audit review period.

1) When you get your tax returns completed and filed for the year, and there are issues, possibly mistakes, which the CRA catches and in anticipation of getting the solution, have a hard time getting a hold of you.

2) You are suddenly self-employed and you are not sure what to claim, or how much you are entitled to, or you claim things or amounts different from your industry standard.   The CRA compiles industry profiles which they use to assign you a “SIC Code” and they compare your returns with the Industry Standard to ensure you fall in line.

3) The dreaded “Net Worth Assessment”.  If you appear to the CRA to be unable to afford the lifestyle that you are currently living in, then the CRA can, and will, issue a Net Worth Assessment and force you to prove that you are not hiding income.  Yes, this can be a challenge, especially in light of the assessments being done from tax centres outside of the Greater Toronto Area who cannot fathom a million dollar house and a $75,000 income.  They don’t take too kindly to the concept of being being helped by family or personal wealth.  Just be warned that a tax return showing $1.00 of income for the year and an address in a wealthy neighbourhood is cause for further questioning.

4) Big changes from year-to-year.  If there are major changes in your income or expenses whether personal or business-related, are going to draw the attention of the CRA.  The CRA wants to make sure that you have not made a mistake, or worse, that you have bought into a tax scheme.  Expect questions, so get proof ready!

There are some tax situations that are just automatically looked at closer – each the year the CRA with the help of the Department of Finance choose a sector of industry to look at in closer depth usually because something has been detected in previous years or because there is a lot of cash floating around these business, such as construction, or dentists, doctors, IT consultants…

Home office deductions for example are frequently looked into as this is often a common problem for taxpayers claiming the home office in order to use deductions without actually utilizing their home as their office.

Even if you honestly never ever use your company vehicle for personal use, it will take some hard doing to prove to the CRA that this is true. Just driving back and forth to work in the business vehicle is classed as personal use. Your best protection here is to keep very detailed records concerning the business vehicles.

6) Renting for income:  Do not assume that rental losses are going to be accepted at face value by the CRA.  While the CRA will give you some grace time to start generating a profit from your rental business, it will still be watched with a close eye based on your industry, location and address(es).

7) Who prepares your return matters!

The CRA is starting to follow the IRS and taking a long hard look at tax accountants and tax preparers to see if there is a pattern among certain firms / indivuduals who either claim deductions they are not allowed to claim on your behalf, or who are missing certain expenses or deductions.  The CRA’s hope here is to weed out the bad apples, and educate the current crop to ensure they take advantage of the deductions and tax credits available to each client.

Should be a valuable change to the Canadian tax filing scheme.

But at the end of the day, doing it right, and on time, is the best way to stay out of the CRA’s bad books.

If, however, you have any questions, concerns or comments, please feel free to reach out to me at any time, at worlans@intaxicating.ca.

 

Mailing to Supressed Holders – CRA and MRQ.

Have you ever wondered if you are required by law to mail out a tax slip to an individual / entity even though in doing so you know it will be returned by the post office marked as “undeliverable”.

These Q&A’s below may help you get a cleared picture of your legal requirements;

Q1: Is there a requirement to mail tax forms to suppressed holders?

A1: Yes. There is no statutory exception to this requirement. The forms specifically mentioned included; the T5, T5008, T4, T4PS, T4RSP, T4RIF, RSPR, T3, NR4, T5013 and T101.

Q2: Will the government excuse you from mailing to suppressed holders if the issuer/client advises you not to mail them / their clients?

A2: No, the obligation to mail is yours, because you make the payment (e.g. dividend or interest). In fact, if there were a penalty charged for failing to provide a tax slip, it would be on you, not the entity or person advising you.

The Income Tax Act does not specifically say “you must mail to suppressed holders”.  Rather, it states that if you make a payment, you have to send out a tax form.   The Income Tax Act does not make a distinction between suppressed holders and other holders. (Note, even though we do not actually “make a payment” – in that we do not send out a cheque to a suppressed holder – the analysis is the same.)

Q3: Is the requirement to mail absolute regardless of the dollar amount, or is there a dollar amount threshold? For example, don’t have to mail unless the aggregate amount paid to a holder is greater than $50.00.

A3: There is a $50 threshold for T5 reporting (that is, the CRA does not require that a T5 be prepared if the amount of the payment was less than $50).  For the other tax forms, there is no threshold.

Q4: What about prior tax years?  Do we have to mail these prior years’ tax forms if requested?

A4: There is nothing in the Income Tax Act which would alleviate the responsibility to provide prior year forms and failing to provide one may result in a complaint and subsequent audit.

Q5: What is the situation with respect to suppressed holders under the Quebec income tax regime, the MRQ?

A5: Similar to the Federal Income Tax Act, under the Quebec income tax regime (a) there is a requirement to mail the tax forms and (b) you are not excused from mailing if the issuer/client advises you not to mail.

Bottom line… Mail!

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