Common GST / HST Questions asked this past week

Below are some common GST/HST questions ask by readers of this blog through either email, Facebook comments, Tweets, or search queries.  I wanted to share the question, and provide the answer to save readers some time.

Q: Can you charge HST without an HST number?

A: No.

Q: Collecting GST when not registered?

A: Don’t.

Q: When do I have to start charging GST?

A: When you register or when you earn more than $30.000.00, or $2500 in HST.

Q: Do I have to charge HST under $30 000?

A: Yes, if you’re registered.

Q: Can you charge HST without a HST number?

A: No.

Q: What is the GST $30000 threshold?

A: It is the threshold that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) states determines when you must register for the GST/HST.  Under $30,000 in taxable sales, registration for GST/HST is voluntary.  Once you hit $30,001, then it is required.

Q: Do I charge HST if I make less than 30000?

A: Earn, not make, and you don’t have to, but I strongly recommend it.

Q: What are the CRA invoice requirements?

Better worded as what are the invoice requirements if I am registered for the GST / HST?

A: To have your GST / HST number clearly displayed on the bottom of your invoices so people who pay you GST / HST know you are actually registered.

Q: How does GST or HST work?

A: Basically, if you sell or provide goods and services in Canada, you must charge customers the Goods and Services Tax (GST) or the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) unless your business qualifies as an exception.

If your Canadian business fits one of the exceptions, it won’t have to charge, collect and remit GST/HST.
The two possible exceptions are:
1. You sell or provide a good or service that the CRA has classified at being “zero-rated” or “exempt”
2. You are a small supplier

Zero-rated goods and services, such as exports, medical devices or basic groceries, are charged 0% HST. Exempt goods and services, such as golf or music lessons, child care, etc., are exempted from GST/HST, so they are not subjected to the tax.

A small supplier is one who has total taxable revenues before expenses from all your businesses of less than $30,000 or less in the last four consecutive calendar quarters and in any single calendar quarter.

Q: Any industries or professions have to apply for GST / HST right away?

A: Yes. Taxi and limousine operators and non-resident performers have to charge GST/HST even if they are small suppliers.

Q: Do I want to register for GST / HST even though I’m considered a small supplier?

A: Yes

Q: How do I register for GST/HST?
CRA makes registration easy for Canadian’s. You can register by phone (call the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-959-5525), online, by mail or even in person at a tax office.
(Note that if your business is in Quebec, you need to contact Revenu Quebec instead at 1-800-567-4692 as they deal with GST/HST in that province.)

If your small business starts out as a small supplier and you make more than the small supplier limit ($30,000) you’ll want to register for GST/HST right away; in the eyes of the Canada Revenue Agency, you are now a GST registrant and you:
1) have to collect GST/HST on the supply that made your revenue go over $30,000;

2) have to register within 29 days of the day that you made the supply that made your revenue go over $30,000.

What causes problems for small businesses is they don’t realize they’ve gone over the limit until some time later when they’re doing the books and then discover they didn’t charge the GST/HST when they should have.  Small suppliers must watch their revenue carefully.

Q: What is a BN?

A: When you register, your business will be assigned a business number (BN); this is the number that you and the CRA will use to identify your business. (You’ll be using it on all your invoices, in your accounting system, and in all your tax-related correspondence with the CRA.)

Q: Do I need to charge the GST/HST?

(Answers the question whether or not you need to charge GST/HST on your sales of goods or services.)

A: Sales of zero-rated or exempt goods and the small supplier exception are discussed later.

Q: Shipping Out of Province: Should You Charge GST/HST?

A: Yes.  Depends on the province you are shipping to.  They pay the applicable rate in their province.

Q: What’s the difference between zero-rated and exempt goods and services?

A: These are two special classes of goods and services that the customer does not pay GST/HST on but in the case of zero-rated goods you, the provider of goods or services, can still claim input tax credits.

Hope this helps!

If anyone has any questions, concerns or comments about the GST/HST and need additional assistance, please contact us at info@intaxicating.ca

 

 

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How We Help With CRA Issues: GST/HST, Deemed Trust, s.160 Assessment and T2’s

How inTAXicating solved a complex CRA tax issue relating to GST/HST, Deemed Trust, s.160/325 Assessments, CRA Collections where the incorporated director was advised to go bankrupt.

A couple of months ago, I received a call from a senior law partner at one of Toronto’s top law firms asking me if I could help out a client of theirs with a messy Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) tax problem because their firm was just too expensive for the couple.

Upon accepting the offer, I was told there was a balance owing to the CRA for GST/HST, and that the firm was essentially bankrupt, with no ability to pay.  The business directors felt that they did not owe the CRA anything, and because they were essentially insolvent, they had stalled and delayed the CRA As much as they could.

Until the CRA advised them that they were going to proceed with the raising of a S.160, Non-Arms Length Deemed Trust assessment for a payroll debt and a S.325 Non-Arms Length Deemed Trust assessment for GST/HST.

This, however, was a huge problem because when raising a s.160/325 assessment, the CRA essentially takes the debt that the corporation has not paid, and transfers it to another corporations or person who benefitted through dealings with that corporations to the detriment of the CRA.

That 3rd party eventually turned out to be family…

It was all over $45,000 owing to the CRA.

While a solution sounds simple enough – confirm the balances owing to the CRA, then confirm the legitimacy of those debts, tie up some loose ends on the compliance side, and then make arrangements between the client and the CRA to resolve both matters.

One huge issue is that the client spoke to the CRA and the collector knows that the s.160/325 is a problem (but the collector doesn’t know why).  In the collector’s eyes, she has the upper hand because the assessment touches a nerve with the client, but on the other hand, without knowing the nature of these concerns, the CRA are taught to think the worst, and thus are more eager to raise the assessment because they suspect the client is hiding something.

So I connected with the couple, got their side of the story, then met their accountant and got her side of the story.  I took all of that information, and had a nice long chat with the Collector at the CRA.

Here is the CRA’s side;

The couple owned a business, which accumulated debt through the filing of GST/HST but never paying it.  They also failed to file T2 returns.

The company had at one point in time sought financing and ended up pledging their inventory in return.  When the business began to slow down, the lender took the assets, and sold them to pay back the money they had lent to the business.

There was a shortfall.

The CRA did not like this at all because they didn’t get paid.

With money owing to the CRA, the collector was prepared to use their Deemed Trust provision and raised a s.160/325 Non-Arms Length assessment against the lender for taking the inventory and disposing of it without paying the CRA.

The CRA were just waiting for the corporations director to file for bankruptcy before they actioned the s.160/325 because that would survive the bankruptcy and would result in the CRA getting paid on all fronts.

Having worked in the CRA’s collections department for almost 11-years, logic told me that a business which was legitimately struggling would not have significant amounts of GST/HST owing in its final years.  They would not have had the financial resources to buy inventory to sell if the business was failing, rather, they would be selling off their inventory at a deep discount to recover the maximum amount possible.

Something did not seem right.

I called back the CRA Collections office who, quite frankly, was extremely unhappy about having to answer additional questions about the origin of the debts… Again.

I had asked her to go through the last 3-years worth of filed GST/HST returns and give me verbal figures for Total Sales, GST Collected, and Input Tax Credits.

She started.

The first year was fine.

The second year was fine.

The third year, she started, “Total Sales were $25,000”, “GST Collected was $1,500” and ITC’s were …

… she paused…

“No ITC’s, eh?” was my response.

“No.  No ITC’s”, she said, completely puzzled.

“So I don’t expect there to be any ITC’s on any of the returns going forward, is that accurate?” I asked.

“No ITC’s on any of the returns going forward… That’s so unusual”, was her response.

We re-filed the last 6 GST/HST returns to include the ITC’s.  The CRA quickly arranged for a desk audit of the refunds, and the client quickly provided the supporting documentation to support the majority of the ITC’s, and within 2-weeks, the audit was done, the returns accepted and sent for posting.

Upon posting, the revised returns knocked down the balance owing considerably.  All of it.  The payroll debt too.

As a result, the CRA cancelled the s.160/325 assessments turned their attention to the T2’s which we had completed and filed in the interim.  The credit from the GST/HST is sitting on the CRA’s systems waiting for the T2’s to post in full.

That’s how inTAXicating Tax Services helps!

Knowing the ins and outs of the CRA’s collections department is a skill which very few possess.  Thinking to ask the CRA for information related to the GST/HST filings and to ask the CRA to amend them even though they fell beyond the 4-year limitation period for allowing Input Tax Credits (ITC’s) is a request that many accountants will not make.

Our prior CRA collections experience allows us to stand out.  inTAXicating Tax Services.  Contact us at info@intaxicating.ca