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.

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PEI Raise HST to 15% October 1, 2016.

Prince Edward Island will be raising their Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) to 15% (from 14%) beginning October 1, 2016.

This decision was made on April 19, 2016, when the PEI Government announced its intention to increase the Provincial rate of the HST (PST) to 10% effective October 1, 2016, resulting in an HST rate of 15% when added to the 5% GST.

PEI set out transitional rules to determine which rate – the existing 14% HST, or the new 15% HST – should apply in respect of transactions that straddle October 1st and under these rules suppliers would generally be required to charge the 15% HST on any consideration that becomes due without having been paid, or is paid without having become due, on or after October 1, 2016, for taxable supplies of property or services.

Under the Excise Tax Act (ETA), the consideration, or a part thereof, for a taxable supply generally becomes due on the earliest of:

  • The day the supplier first issues an invoice in respect of the supply for that consideration or part thereof;
  • The date of that invoice;
  • The day the supplier would have, but for an undue delay, issued an invoice in respect of the supply for that consideration or part thereof; and
  • The day the recipient of the supply is required to pay that consideration or part thereof to the supplier pursuant to a written agreement.

 

Regarding real property transactions, supplies of services are to charge the 15% HST rate to any consideration that becomes due without having been paid, or is paid without having become due, on or after October 1, 2016.

Conversely, the 14% HST rate applies to any consideration that becomes due or is paid before October 1, 2016.

 

Québec sales tax (QST) increased to 8.5% as of January 1, 2011

Did you know that there was an increase in the rate of the Québec sales tax (QST) as of January 1, 2011?

The QST rate increased from 7.5% to 8.5%.

The taxable supply of movable property or a service will be subject to the 8.5% QST rate if all or a portion of its consideration becomes due after December 31, 2010, and is not paid before January 1, 2011.

The taxable supply of an immovable by way of sale will be subject to the 8.5% QST rate if it is made pursuant to a written agreement entered into after December 31, 2010, under which the ownership and possession of the immovable will be transferred to the recipient after this date.

The taxable supply of the construction, renovation, alteration or repair of an immovable will also be subject to the 8.5% QST rate if it is made pursuant to a written agreement entered into after December 31, 2010.

However, the rules described above regarding the taxable supply of movable property or a service will also apply to the taxable supply of an immovable other than by way of sale.

Special rules apply to the following supplies: continuous supplies, budget payment arrangements with reconciliation, exchanges of movable property, primacy rules, the bringing of movable property to Québec, etc.

For further information, see page A.55 in Additional Information on the Budgetary Measures, published by the Ministère des Finances.

http://www.revenu.gouv.qc.ca/en/ministere/centre_information/nf/2009/hausse_taux_taxe.aspx

Consequential adjustments
Rounded-off mathematical factors. The QST is calculated on a consideration that includes the goods and services tax (GST) at a rate of 5%. With the increase in the QST to 8.5%, the effective rate of the QST (currently 7.875%) and the combined effective rate of the GST and the QST (12.875%) will be raised to 8.925% and 13.925% respectively as of January 1, 2011. The mathematical factors rounded to 7.87% and 12.87% will be replaced by factors rounded to 8.92% and 13.92% respectively, as of the same date.

Taxable benefit related to the cost of operating an automobile. The amount of QST to be included in the calculation of a registrant’s net tax related to the cost of operating an automobile corresponds to 4.7% of the value of the benefit. As of January 1, 2011, the rate of 4.7% will be raised to 5.4%.

Quick accounting methods. The prescribed rate for small businesses set at 2.7% for vendors of corporeal movable property and at 5.3% for other businesses will be raised to 3% and 6%, respectively. The prescribed rate for municipalities set at 4.6% and for other bodies set at 5.9% will be raised to 5.2% and 6.6%, respectively. The new prescribed rates will apply to any reporting period that starts after December 31, 2010.

Simplified method for calculating rebates regarding an expense account. The changes to be made to the mathematical factors and to the simplified method for calculating rebates regarding an expense account will be clarified by Revenu Québec at a later date.

Corresponding increase in the tobacco tax.
To reflect the increase in the QST rate as of January 1, 2011, the rates of the tobacco tax will be changed as follows:

the rate of 10.3 cents per cigarette will be raised to 10.6 cents per cigarette;
the rate of 10.3 cents per gram of loose tobacco or leaf tobacco will be raised to 10.6 cents per gram;
the rate of 15.85 cents per gram of any tobacco other than cigarettes, loose tobacco, leaf tobacco and cigars will be raised to 16.31 cents per gram;
the minimum rate applicable to a tobacco stick will be raised from 10.3 to 10.6 cents per stick;
the rate of 80% of the taxable price of cigars will remain unchanged.
Persons not under an agreement with Revenu Québec who sell tobacco products regarding which the specific tax on tobacco was collected in advance (or should have been) must take an inventory of all such products they have in stock at midnight on December 31, 2010, and remit, before January 29, 2011, an amount corresponding to the difference between the tax applicable at the new rates and that applicable at the rates in effect before midnight on December 31, 2010.

The same applies to collection officers under an agreement with Revenu Québec who sell tobacco products regarding which the specific tax on tobacco is paid in advance or has not yet been paid.