Canada Revenue Agency Offering to Close Dormant GST Accounts

[109/365] Taxation.
Taxation. (Photo credit: kardboard604)

I came across an interesting article on the H&R Block blog site regarding the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and their upcoming strategy regarding dormant GST accounts.  The original article can be found right here.  Having spent almost 11-years working for the CRA – almost 2 of those years dedicated to GST, I am very familiar with the problem the CRA faces by having many GST accounts open and unaccounted for.  When the CRA is unsure as to whether the account is open, active and not filing, or open, inactive and never used can often be difficult to determine is the phone number and address on file at the time of registration are no longer applicable.

As many of you are already aware, not filing GST returns is a criminal offence under the Excise Tax Act for which the CRA can, and will prosecute taxpayers.  When the CRA moves to action on these accounts their intention is in their approach so if they suspect the file was opened in error, or can be sure it is not required then they will call, or have a field officer drop by the residence or business to ask about the account.  If, however, they have reason to believe that the account is open and just not-filing, maybe as a result of a telephone conversation, then they approach this completely differently.

In this case, the CRA will begin to collect information for their permanent diary and see how the story differs from the information provided by the taxpayer.  Once they notice a difference, they move in with a Demand to File, which is an indication that they intend to prosecute.

The CRA understand that taxpayers register GST accounts then move and fail to update their address with the CRA (HUGE mistake!) at which point the CRA needs to determine if the account is inactive or a non-filer.  If this is you, or someone you know, it’s best to take care of this right now.

A common example would be this; a taxpayer opened a business which operated as a sole proprietorship (SoleProp) for 18-months until it incorporated.  The new corporation (NewCorp) registered a GST account and began to make its quarterly installments, while the SoleProp no longer had any income attached to it, but instead of closing it, the owner filed nil returns for the next 3-years.

This is an example of an account the CRA would happily close over the phone because the trail is clear and both are current.

Normally, you need to complete a RC145 Form (used to be a GST11)– Request to Close Business Number Program Accounts in order to close your GST account, however under this program, the CRA will close the account if you give them permission over the phone.

Whether the account is closed or not, you still have to file all your outstanding GST/HST returns and pay any amounts owing up until the day your business ends because closing your account does not exempt you from paying any GST owed back to the CRA.  In addition, if you have business assets and shut down the operation, the assets are deemed disposed of at Fair Market Value (FMV) on the day you stopped operating so you will need to calculate the GST on the value of your assets, too.  You will also want to make sure that you capture any bad debts on that final GST return if you have not previously.

If you sell to a purchaser who is a GST registrant and who continues to operate the business, you can jointly file a Form GST44, Election Concerning the Acquisition of a Business or Part of a Business, so the purchaser does not have to collect and you do not have to pay GST.

The important thing to remember about the GST is that once you open an account it remains open until you take action to close it.  If you have a dormant GST account and the CRA is calling you, it will save you time to answer the phone and provide permission to close it.  If you fail to close it and the CRA is unable to get in touch with you, they can enforce collection actions against you and raise director’s liability to hold you personally liable to corporate debts, as well as the previously mentioned criminal prosecution.  Stopping this kind of action can be difficult once the CRA has determined that you are hiding something from them.

Do not wait for the CRA to come collecting their returns or their GST, but if you are already embroiled into a battle with the CRA over notional assessments or GST amounts owing, or worse if you have received a Demand to File notice from the CRA that they are intending to assess you as a director of the corporation and are seeking a due diligence defence, you need professional help right away.

I can help!

Just visit http://www.intaxicating.ca and see how Intaxicating Tax Services can assist you in all your CRA matters.  Passionate about Tax.  Passionate about helping people.

info@intaxicating.ca

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Canadian Live-in Caregiver Program Services: Why using Service Canada’s Contract makes sense

With Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program under attack again as a result of RBC’s announced plan to lay off Canadian employees and hire employees overseas, it’s important to understand that this program also has the Canadian Live-in Caregiver Program (LICP) as a part of it, and that program is essential to working Canadian parents who need to hire a Live-in Caregiver (nanny) from overseas for cost efficient reasons.  The LICP provides opportunity for parents to sponsor and bring trained, educated nannies from overseas, who live in their homes and work for them at a wage very close to the minimum wage.

At the outset, many feel that these nannies are being taken advantage of, however, I see it differently.  Yes, there are employers who ask their employees to work long hours, and do tasks which are outside of the normal requrements of the program, but there are also opportunities for these nannies to speak up and have this addressed, and the outcome is that the employer is banned from using the program.  Times have changed and thankfully this government has also changed the program to make it harder for employers to scam the system and also more difficult for employees to scam their employers.  Of course, there are exceptions…

One big way that employers and employees can start this relationship on the right foot is by following the rules of the LICP, and making sure that the employer and the employee know exactly what they are required to be doing during their time in the program and also to make sure that the employee and employer are also moving forward with plan for once the program ends so that the employee is making smart decisions about their future and the employer is able to assist and know where they stand regarding their caregiver.

At Intaxicating Tax Solutions, we are on the leading edge around requirements and changes to this program as we offer assistance at every stage of the process – from deciding whether to sponsor a nanny through this program, or hiring a live-out caregiver already in Canada, to the setting up and payroll account with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), networking, course suggestions for caregivers and dispute resolution surrounding tasks, requirements and working hours.  Our website is www.intaxicating.ca and you can find plenty of materials written by us around the program on the web.

With all that being said, I thought it might be useful to post the link to Service Canada‘s Live-In Caregiver contract.

The best way to get a working arrangement off on the right foot is by making sure that the employer and employee are both clear around requirements and what happens if these requirements need to be adjusted.  As a contract is a requiremt of the program for sponsoring a live-in caregiver, those hiring live-out caregivers and those nannies who are living in, but not through a formal program like the LICP, also benefit from having a formal contract in place to keep requirements clear.

The contact forms the basis of a legal agreement between employer and employee as to what is expected and agreed upon by both sides and is used in case of disagreement to support the previously agreed upon terms.  Before employment begins both parties have to agree to all the work arrangements in the contract which should outline every detail from hours worked, to amounts renumerated to specific tasks and vacation pay.  It’s like going to get a job anywhere else in the world, where you sign the contact before your employer agrees to hire you and having a formalized contract as part of this program helps prevent employers from taking advantage of nannies and allows nannies to understand what they are getting into to before they agree to start work.

Too often I hear and read about employers who think their live-in nannies are on call 24/7 at their disposal to take care of them and their kids, and their house and their pets…  I also hear and read in parenting groups about employers placing curfews on their nannies, or making them address you as Mr. or Mrs. like they are a servant. Most of it is not allowed and some of it is just not right. If you accepted a job working at a top law firm, or in the warehouse of WalMart would you allow for them to treat you like that?  I suspect that answer is no.

Now that the contract is part of the application process – prospective nannies who come to apply to the program here, http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/work/caregiver/apply-how.asp, now understand that there are tight guidelines governing their requirements and rights, as well as the employers.  Nannies MUST sign a written contract with their future employer, and the employer must also sign the contact which is them submitted together with the positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO).

The positive LMO is issued to the employer by the government after a lengthy review of the submitted documents where the information is verified, a phone interview is conducted, and if everything checks out, the employer is deemed to be a suitable employer who has followed all the government requirements and regulations for the LICP.  Employers must also provide to the government their payroll BN number with the CRA, and have available suitable space in their home for a nanny to live, and prove that they have children in need of caring for and the financial capabilities to support a nanny.

The contract must be the same employment contract submitted to HRSDC/SC by your employer, unless you provide an explanation of any changes (for example, a new start date).

The written employment contract will ensure there is a fair working arrangement between you and your employer. The employment contract must demonstrate that the Live-in Caregiver Program requirements are met by including a description of:

•mandatory employer-paid benefits, including:

◦transportation to Canada from your country of permanent residence or the country of habitual residence to the location of work in Canada

◦medical insurance coverage provided from the date of your arrival until you are eligible for provincial health insurance

◦workplace safety insurance coverage for the duration of the employment

◦all recruitment fees, including any amount payable to a third-party recruiter or agents hired by the employer that would otherwise have been charged to you

•job duties

•hours of work

•wages

•accommodation arrangements (including room and board)

•holiday and sick leave entitlements

•termination and resignation terms

The contract the government is expecting to see does not have to look exactly like the one provided for in the link – that one is merely a template – but it must contain all the information and clauses indicated as mandatory and the use of an alternate contract format may cause delays to the processing of the LMO application as HRSDC and Service Canada officers will need to determine if the contract complies with LCP requirements.  A copy of that contract can be found here.

Before you jump into hiring an employee through the Canadian Live-in Caregiver program, or someone already in Canada, make sure that you have all the requirements covered and that you and your employer are on the same page.  If you would like further information or have questions, please feel free to post them in the comment section, or contact us at info@intaxicatingtaxservices.ca.  You can find details around our T4/T4 summary services, our payroll services or our consultation services on our website or by contacting us.

The Canada Revenue Agency Informant Leads aka “Snitch” Line

You have come to this blog for more information on the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) Informant Leads or Snitch Line.  Yes, the line does exist and if you are looking for the number in order to use it, that number is 1.866.809.6841.

You may have heard me speak on CFAX1070 about the CRA Snitch line, or possibly you heard my interview on CBC.ca regarding the existence and use of this line.  If you have not, then let me take a moment to clear the air on this line.  The Informant Leads line does exist.  In fact, it has become such a popular tool for finding new collection sources that it’s increased volume of calls can be directly attributed to a reduction in the need for collections staff / auditors and investigators who were responsible for digging up new leads.

It is absolutely not possible for someone to call the line, make up a story and have someone investigated.  Anyone who states that does not know the purpose of this line and obviously has no experience working in the CRA.  To say that is irresponsible and fear mongering.   The CRA will act on leads but there must be some proof provided.  Simply asking for your neighbour to be audited because they drive a nicer car than you is not going to begin years or investigations-hell for them.  If, however, you purchase an item from a retail establishment, and are charged taxes, but you notice that the teller never ran the purchase through the till, then you can be assured that they are pocketing the taxes instead of remitting it to the CRA.  Or, if you notice on the receipt that they have charged you the wrong rate of tax, then you need to notify the CRA.

In one case, while I was working at the CRA, I purchased a large ticket item from a local store only to find out later that the taxes on the bill totaled 28%.  I went back to the store to ask for it to be corrected, only to have them advise me that it was a “US cash register” and that the rate was incorrect.  I took the receipt into the office hoping to launch an internal investigation but was told it would be 6-weeks before they were able to look at it.

So I walked over to a phone beside my desk, called the snitch line, explained the issue and after providing the receipt as proof, found that an investigation was launched the next day and heard through the grapevine that over $200,000.00 was recovered from the company.

That is where the snitch line can be put to good use.

If, however, you hear your neighbour bragging about how much money he makes under the table and he lives way better than you do?  You can call the snitch line.   Or if your ex-spouse is unwilling to file their outstanding tax returns because it would mean they would have to increase child support payments, then you can call the snitch line.  The CRA will take the information, begin with an internal investigation to see if there is merit, then possibly drop by the home or business to get a feel for whether an audit is required or if a net worth assessment is needed.

At the end of the day, the intention of the snitch line is to provide a direct link to the CRA’s Audit department and it assists the CRA as they use these “tips” to recover funds from professional tax avoiders.

Key words the CRA likes to hear includes;

Their names, their address, an amount of unreported income greater than, say $50K, maybe a second set of books, or 2nd property in the name of their cat…

It never hurts to call.

It always hurts to not call.

This line is anonymous and believe it or not, the majority of “tips” come from exes who are left holding the bag while their ex-spouses are living it up.

I figured I would post this since it is the most frequently asked question I get.  Yes a line exists and yes it gets acted on… and fast if the dollar amount to be recovered is high.

I have actual experience seeing this line work and I know for certain of instances where people have called this line in effort to discredit or attack someone and at the end of the day, the CRA  has investigated that person or party and punished them for making a false claim.  Those in glass houses should never throw stones.

Snitch Logo

Thursday Thirteen – IRS Style. 13 Facts about W9’s.

This Thursday Thirteen covers 13 facts about the IRS W9 Form you may, or may not have known about:

13. Which payees are exempt from backup withholding?
* An organization exempt from tax under section 501(a), any IRA, or a custodial account under section 403(b)(7) if the account satisfies the requirements of section 401(f)(2),
* The United States or any of its agencies or instrumentalities,
* A state, the District of Columbia, a possession of the US or any of their political subdivisions or instrumentalities,
* A foreign government or any of its political subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities, or
* An international organization or any of its agencies or instrumentalities.

12. Which payees may be exempt from backup withholding?
* A futures commission merchant registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission,
* A foreign central bank of issue,
* A dealer in securities or commodities required to register in the US, the District of Columbia, or a possession of the US,
* A real estate investment trust,
* An entity registered at all times during the tax year under the Investment Company Act of 1940,
* A common trust fund operated by a bank under section 584(a),
* A financial institution,
* A middleman known in the investment community as a nominee or custodian, or
* A trust exempt from tax under section 664 or described in section 4947.

11. The IRS recommends that even if you are exempt from backup withholding, you should still complete a W9 to avoid possible erroneous backup withholding.

10. What is the purpose of the W9?
A person who is required to file an information return with the IRS must obtain your correct taxpayer identification number (TIN) to report, for example, income paid to you, real estate transactions, mortgage interest you paid, acquisition or abandonment of secured property, cancellation of debt, or contributions you made to an IRA

9. Who needs to complete a W9?
A US person (including a resident alien), to provide your correct TIN to the person requesting it (the requester).

8. Why do “they” need a W9 completed?
* To certify that the TIN you are giving is correct (or you are waiting for a number to be issued),
* To certify that you are not subject to backup withholding, or
* To claim exemption from backup withholding if you are a US exempt payee.
(You are also certifying that as a US person, your allocable share of any partnership income from a US trade or business is not subject to the withholding tax on foreign partners’ share of effectively connected income)

7. If a requester gives you a form other than Form W-9 to request your TIN, you must use the requester’s form if it is substantially similar to this Form W-9. The IRS cares about the information on the form, not the form itself.

6. Penalties? Yup!!!
* Civil penalty for false information with respect to withholding. If you make a false statement with no reasonable basis that results in no backup withholding, you are subject to a $500 penalty.
* Criminal penalty for falsifying information. Willfully falsifying certifications or affirmations may subject you to criminal penalties including fines and/or imprisonment.
* Failure to furnish TIN. If you fail to furnish your correct TIN to a requester, you are subject to a penalty of $50 for each such failure unless your failure is due to reasonable cause and not to willful neglect.
* Misuse of TINs. If the requester discloses or uses TINs in violation of federal law, the requester may be subject to civil and criminal penalties.

5. What is backup withholding? Persons making certain payments to you must under certain conditions withhold and pay to the IRS 28% of such payments. This is called “backup withholding.” Payments that may be subject to backup withholding include interest, tax-exempt interest, dividends, broker and barter exchange transactions, rents, royalties, nonemployee pay, and certain payments from fishing boat operators. Real estate transactions are not subject to backup withholding.
You will not be subject to backup withholding on payments you receive if you give the requester your correct TIN, make the proper certifications, and report all your taxable interest and dividends on your tax return.

4. You will not be subject to backup withholding on payments you receive if you give the requester your correct TIN, make the proper certifications, and report all your taxable interest and dividends on your tax return.

3. If you are a US resident alien who is relying on an exception contained in the saving clause of a tax treaty to claim an exemption from US tax on certain types of income, you must attach a statement to Form W-9 that specifies the following five items:
1. The treaty country. Generally, this must be the same treaty under which you claimed exemption from tax as a nonresident alien.
2. The treaty article addressing the income.
3. The article number (or location) in the tax treaty that contains the saving clause and its exceptions.
4. The type and amount of income that qualifies for the exemption from tax.
5. Sufficient facts to justify the exemption from tax under the terms of the treaty article

2. To sign or not to sign…
To establish to the withholding agent that you are a US person, or resident alien, sign Form W-9. You may be requested to sign by the withholding agent even if items below indicate otherwise.
* Interest, dividend, and barter exchange accounts opened before 1984 and broker accounts considered active during 1983. You must give your correct TIN, but you do not have to sign the certification.
* Interest, dividend, broker, and barter exchange accounts opened after 1983 and broker accounts considered inactive during 1983. You must sign the certification or backup withholding will apply. If you are subject to backup withholding and you are merely providing your correct TIN to the requester, you must cross out item 2 in the certification before signing the form.
* Real estate transactions. You must sign the certification.
* Other payments. You must give your correct TIN, but you do not have to sign the certification unless you have been notified that you have previously given an incorrect TIN. “Other payments” include payments made in the course of the requester’s trade or business for rents, royalties, goods (other than bills for merchandise), medical and health care services (including payments to corporations), payments to a nonemployee for services, payments to certain fishing boat crew members and fishermen, and gross proceeds paid to attorneys (including payments to corporations).
* Mortgage interest paid by you, acquisition or abandonment of secured property, cancellation of debt, qualified tuition program payments (under section 529), IRA, Coverdell ESA, Archer MSA or HSA contributions or distributions, and pension distributions. You must give your correct TIN, but you do not have to sign the certification.

Bottom line… Sign it.

1. You will be subject to backup withholding on payments you receive if;
* The IRS tells the requester that you furnished an incorrect TIN,
* You do not certify your TIN when required,
* You do not furnish your TIN to the requester,
The IRS tells you that you are subject to backup withholding because you did not report all your interest and dividends on your tax return (for reportable interest and dividends only),
* You do not certify to the requester that you are not subject to backup withholding (for reportable interest and dividend accounts opened after 1983 only).

In-TAX-icating

In-TAX-icating.

Definition:

a: To excite or stupefy by taxation to the point where physical and mental control is markedly diminished

b: to excite or elate to the point of enthusiasm or frenzy… about taxation.

Passionate about Taxation.  Passionate about helping you!