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).

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Think the Canada Revenue Agency Treats Employees Differently? Think Again!

Former CRA employee fined and sentenced to 18-month conditional sentence for income tax evasion

Surrey, British Columbia.   The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced today that Maria Victoria Banhaw of Burnaby, British Columbia, was sentenced on October 3, 2014 in Vancouver Provincial Court, after pleading guilty to one count of income tax evasion. Banhaw was fined $47,580, representing 75% of the total federal income tax evaded. She was also ordered to serve an 18-month conditional sentence, which includes 9 months of house arrest.

A CRA investigation determined that Banhaw, while employed at the CRA, prepared and filed personal income tax returns for herself, her husband and 34 family members and friends for the 2005 to 2009 tax years. On these 96 returns, Banhaw overstated the amount of Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contributions in order to reduce taxable income and increase refund amounts payable. Banhaw’s family and friends were unaware that she made false claims on their returns. In total, Banhaw reported $389,417 in false RRSP contributions, resulting in $63,438 in taxes evaded.

The preceding information was obtained from the court records.

When taxpayers are convicted of income tax evasion, in addition to any fines, they must still repay the full amount of taxes owing, plus interest and any civil penalties that may be assessed by the CRA.  In addition, the court has the ability to fine them up to 200% of the taxes evaded and impose a jail term of up to five years.

If you have ever made a tax mistake or omission it is prudent to speak to us right away so that we can help you understand where you stand in the eyes of the CRA.  We will help you determine if you can handle it on your own – and set you up to do so, or recommend our services or the services of others to assist you through the process.

CRA Press Release: London Restaurateur Fined $43,070 for Tax Evasion

I cannot stress enough the importance of opening mail from the government, all governments, especially the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).  Of more importance, if the CRA is looking for information, or tax returns, or if the notices are getting progressively more threatening, it’s a very good sign that you may need to speak to a professional to determine how to best proceed.

The CRA regularly issues press releases regarding tax evasion, and they have a link on their website related to convictions, here; http://www.cra.gc.ca/convictions.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced today that on July 2, 2014, Jamil Barakat and 1441126 Ontario Inc. both of London, Ontario, were sentenced in the Ontario Court of Justice in London to a fine of $43,070.  On November 8, 2013, Barakat and 1441126 Ontario Inc. pleaded guilty, in the same court, to two counts of income tax evasion each.  1441126 Ontario Inc. also pleaded guilty to three counts of evading GST/HST. The fine represents 100% of the total taxes evaded. The fine has since been paid in full.

A CRA investigation revealed that 1441126 Ontario Inc., operating as Barakat Restaurant, failed to report $259,624 in taxable income on its 2007 and 2008 returns, which resulted in the evasion of $27,054 in federal corporate taxes. The corporation also understated its net GST payable for three quarterly periods in 2007, thereby evading an additional $2,976 in GST. The investigation also revealed that Jamil Barakat, in his role as director of 1441126 Ontario Inc., failed to report on his 2007 and 2008 personal tax returns $51,678 he appropriated from the restaurant.  By doing so Barakat evaded an additional $13,040 in federal income taxes.

The preceding information was obtained from the court records.

When individuals are convicted of income tax and GST/HST evasion, they must still repay the full amount of taxes owing, plus interest and any civil penalties that may be assessed by the CRA.  In addition, the court may fine them up to 200% of the taxes evaded and impose a jail term of up to five years.

If you have ever made a tax mistake or omission, the CRA is offering you a second chance to make things right through its Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP). If you make a valid disclosure before you become aware that the CRA is taking action against you, you may only have to pay the taxes owing plus interest.  More information on the VDP can be found on the CRA’s website at http://www.cra.gc.ca/voluntarydisclosures.

For a free 15-minute consultation, call or email inTAXicating Tax Services at info@intaxicatingtaxservices@gmail.com.  We can be reached at 416.833.1581.

 

The Elevator Pitch! How Important Is It?

The elevator pitch, otherwise known as your ability to tell someone what you do for a living in 15-20 seconds without leaving out any critical details.

Wikipedia calls it this; “An elevator pitchelevator speech, or elevator statement is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a person, profession, product, service, organization or event and its value proposition.”

The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride of around 30 seconds.

The term originates from a scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important in the elevator where after the brief pitch, the other party is interested in learning more. thus continuing the conversation after the elevator ride or through en exchange of a business card or smart phone details.

As a tax consultant, I thought I had the perfect elevator pitch that went something like this; “I help people who have problems with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).  I worked in the CRA for over 10-years – pretty much out of university – and worked my way up through the collections division until leaving for the private sector.”

I found it to be too long, and open for interruption so much that I would add details, such as that I completed 3-years of my accounting (CGA) designation and a 3-year MBA before leaving, or that I spent a significant part of my time at the CRA training the staff, handling the most complex accounts in the office and helping improve processes.

Then it became an elevator pitch for a 65-story building ride… To the top and all the way back down to the bottom.

Then I found an article in Forbes magazine which provided 6 alternatives to the elevator pitch so I tried them out to see if they worked better for me.  The list is below:

1. The One-word pitch – for me, it is “TAX”.  Then I watch their eyes gloss over.

2. The Question pitch – “Have you ever had (or have clients who had) problems with the Canada Revenue Agency (or Revenu Quebec, or the IRS, or WSIB, or the CRTC?)

3. The Rhyming pitch – Could not even try this.

4. The Subject line pitch – like sending an email to someone – mine would read something like “Former CRA collections officer helping people with CRA problems.”

5. The Story form pitch – I have thousands of stories… Literally.  I usually break into one of these after my introduction.

6. The Twitter or 140 character or less pitch #WhatIAmAllAbout.   I like this because it’s like using Twitter except that you really cannot tell someone that you “hashtag” Help People.  But it does give you the opportunity to state your case in a brief number of words.

So practice your pitch – no matter which method you choose – and practice them out on people to see if it gets across the message you want it to.  If not, maybe you would benefit from a different pitch or by adding or removing information to your existing pitch.

As for me… “I’m a former CRA officer who knows the CRA collections process, policy and procedures better than they do.  I help people with a variety of tax issues including but not limited to negotiation, payment arrangements, liens, RTP’s assessments, and getting them current and out of debt.  If there is a CRA issue, I have already seen it, and I know how to fix the problem.”

#x-taxer

Others make promises.  I fix problems.

If the conversation continues I explain my services are for individuals, businesses, and professional organizations who cannot proceed further with a client due to their tax issues – ie/ getting a bank loan, renewing a mortgage, confirmation of actual amounts owing before filing for bankruptcy, wage garnishments on employees, or cleaning up past tax issues for separation agreements or divorce.

#inTAXicating

Free consultation.

info@intaxicating.ca

416.833.1581

 

 

 

Be Proactive: 6 Easy Steps to Reduce Taxes for the 2014 Tax Year… in 2014.

I know, I know.

You have not yet filed your 2013 personal income tax returns here in Canada and already some former Canada Revenue Agency Collections Expert (me) is pushing you to think about your 2014 personal income tax filing.

Well, of course I am.  We are 3-months into 2014 and any time is the right time to help taxpayers save on taxes for the current — and future — years.

Here are 6 quick ideas to get you thinking about ways to save taxes in 2014 starting today!

1. Reduce tax deductions at source.

As I have mentioned before, a tax refund is a sign of poor tax planning equivalent to loaning the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) your hard-earned income for a year only to get it back after filing your tax return, interest-free.  An easy strategy to minimize or eliminate taxes owing for 2014, is to complete CRA Form T1213, “Request to Reduce Tax Deductions at Source.”

The purpose of this form is to ask the CRA for reduced tax deductions at source for any deductions or non-refundable tax credits that are not part of the Form TD1, Personal Tax Credits Return. In order to complete this form, all income tax returns that are due have to be filed and amounts paid in full before sending this to the CRA.

In addition the request to reduce deductions through Form T1213 must be made each year, and the CRA will respond within 6-weeks time to advise if the request has been approved or denied.  Once approved, the CRA letter should be handed over to the payroll department who will then reduce the amount of taxes withheld at source. Deductions and credits which will be claimed upon the filing of the 2014 personal income tax return such as RRSP contributions (other than those made through payroll deduction), support payments or child-care expenses should be accounted for.

By planning ahead, you get your “refund” throughout 2014 and they can use that saving to set up and contribute to a RRSP, RESP, TFSA or other long-term investment vehicles aimed at deferring tax.

2. File on time.

Everything.  Always.  This way you do not start the tax year paying back debt, or penalty and interest, for missing a filing deadline by a day or more.  The CRA offers an online installment reminder service whereby you will get an email notifying you that your installments are due.  Use that, set key dates in your calendar or have your accountant notify you in advance.  Just do not miss filing deadlines.

3. Donate funds “in-kind

Consider donating appreciated publicly-traded shares, mutual funds or segregated funds “in-kind” to a registered charity or foundation throughout the year, and not just at year end in order to claim a deduction.  The tax receipt received for these types of donations are equal to the fair market value of the shares or funds donated, and the payment of taxes on any accrued capital gains are avoided.

4. Clear up all balances owing (with the CRA and elsewhere)

Along the lines of point number 2, if at all possible, clear up any amounts owing to the CRA as quickly as possible.  You save money by not paying interest which the CRA compounds daily at a rate around 10%, plus the reduction in stress is well worth it.  Also take into consideration that a debt with the CRA can harm your credit or business relationships, whereas a consolidation loan paying back a bank improves your credit.  Same outcome, but different treatment.

5. Consider Income – splitting loans.

As of January 1st, 2014, the prescribed rate has dropped back down to 1% 1. In a typical income-splitting loan strategy, a high-income spouse (or partner) loans funds at the prescribed rate to his or her lower-income spouse. The investment returns minus the tax-deductible interest on the spousal loan can then be taxed in the lower spouse’s hands. The advantage of advancing a loan when the prescribed rate is low is that under the tax rules, clients need only use the prescribed rate in effect at the time the loan was originally extended to avoid the income being attributed back to the higher income spouse so if the loan is establish during the first quarter of 2014, when the prescribed rate is 1%, they can then use that rate for the duration of the loan, which could be unlimited if there is no fixed term and it’s simply a demand loan.

6. Find a great accountant and investment planner who care about you and your family.

One of the most common questions I get asked is how to know if your accountant or investment adviser are meeting your needs, and the way I answer that is to ask you when the last time you spoke to their professionals about you.  When was the last conversation you had with them about you, your family, your work, dreams, goals, aspirations, and about the kids, any side business you have or want, or even about how you get to work or who pays the mortgage of private school tuition for the kids.

If you have never had this conversation then you must be 100% on top of all new legislative changes to be sure you are taking advantage of all deductions and tax credits available and when you hand over your file at tax time, be comfortable knowing that what you are getting is a tax return.  No more, no less.

A  good accountant and a good investment adviser take the time to know you and advise you, send you suggestions, recommendations and tips on ways to save money, invest, reduce taxes, and can help guide your financial future.  You should want to call your financial professionals when you are looking to make a decision that could impact your finances and don’t be alarmed if they don’t know the answer right away.  A well researched answer is much more valuable than an off the cuff opinion.

 

These 6 things should help you get moving in the right direction in 2014 and as always, should you have any questions, concerns or comments, all you need to do is send me an email to info@intaxicating.ca or comment on a blog post here, or at http://www.intaxicating.ca and an answer will be coming your way.

If you wish to inquire about our services. you may do so via the above email address or by call 416.833.1581 and let us guide you through your tax problem, right to its resolution.

inTAXicating.  Where experience counts!

 

I am Writing a Book to Help Canadians Deal With Tax Problems. Preview Inside.

I have always wanted to write a book to help Canadians deal with tax problems, or tax debts with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

There is no better time than the present, so here is a preview;

Chapter 1.

Call me!

Chapter 2.

If you have a tax debt, tax problem, are behind on filing, made errors on your return, missed deductions or slips or if you owe money and cannot pay. You need a straight shooter who can tell you what to do and do so without costing you an arm and a leg.

Welcome to my company.

It is my goal to help each and every Canadian who has a tax problem through either a free 15-minute consultation, a one-hour meeting or through engaging my services.

I’m going to tell you what you need to know and not what you need to hear. If you are exposed to the CRA, I will tell you. If you are not legally required to pay a debt, I will tell you that too.

What I won’t do is mislead you into thinking that the CRA spends all day searching your keywords looking for you, unless you have done something criminally wrong, then I am recommending you speak with one of Canada’s top tax lawyers who will treat you in the same no-nonsense manner.

I also won’t lead you to believe that I have an army of former CRA staff at my disposal or that the CRA likes being referred to as the “taxman”. They do not.  My network of CRA tax experts is vast and reside all over Canada.  I have friends still working in the CRA and many who have left.  I firmly believe that knowing what questions to ask is much more valuable than the answers given.  I know what questions to ask, and I will ask them for you.

I do, however, have 10-years of experience at the Canada Revenue Agency – as a collector – and as a resource officer, field officer, team leader, and I have significant experience in fairness / taxpayer relief, managing the Director’s Liability and s.160 inventory, and for 5-years, I trained the collections staff at Canada’s largest Tax Services Office how to do their jobs.  I cannot and will not list all the areas of the CRA that I worked in, because I wanted to learn, experience and help taxpayers while working there and I still want to do the same now that I am on the other side of the negotiating table.

Common sense tells me that if you have a tax, collections, or enforcement problem, you do not need a trustee, or a tax lawyer, or an accountant, but you need a former CRA collections expert to steer you clear of trouble.

Don’t let the CRA or other “tax” firms decide that you need to go bankrupt. You decide!

If you need forms filed with the CRA, or tax returns prepared for individuals or businesses, I work with the best accountants and accounting firms who share my philosophy of putting you first.  Together we make sure your past filings are accurate and that you have claimed the correct amounts legally allowed.  We don’t add things or make up deductions because that is what gets you in trouble.

My firm is Toronto-based, however accessible throughout Canada and around the world – as my clients have found out.

I’m not going to pull out a horse and pony show and try to entice you with fancy expensive ads which I will need to charge you extra to pay for – but I’m going to listen, process, and advise you what to do based on my experiences and based on 17-years of handling matters with the CRA, IRS, Revenu Quebec and with WSIB and the CRTC.  I spent the majority of my time at the CRA working on the corporate side, so GST/HST, payroll, corporate tax and personal taxes are all in my areas of expertise.

I will tell you what the CRA is doing, and what they will be doing next. It’s nice to be a step ahead!

And throughout this whole process, you have to understand that the CRA will be working with us to resolve your tax matter and not working against us. It’s what they get paid to do. The only difference is they do it with us and not against us.

Conclusion:

So, why reach out to me? Why not!

I can be reached at info@intaxicating.ca, or by phone at 416.833.1581.