“New” CRA Powers are Not so New after all! Unless…

Recent radio advertising and newspaper or online articles would have you believe that the CRA has been ramping up staff in order to break down your door in the middle of the night and arrest you for tax fraud.

Deep down inside you knew that you should have opened a BN number and GST/HST account for your child\s lemonade stand because even though they were significantly under the $30,000 sales threshold, if registered, you could have claimed the Input Tax Credits – but you didn’t and the CRA wants their money!

You also know that if you had a question, the CRA call centre were going to mislead you, or lie to you so that you would be forced to pay even more money.

You also know that you might need help for a tax accountant, tax lawyer, tax broker, tax solutions firm, or tax audit specialist… but you cannot choose because the different names must mean they do different things and you don’t know which category you fall into, and … the CRA are so coming to get you… now!

(Is that rustling in the bushes in front of my house?)

spyingWell all of these new powers and the threats that they are going to break-down your door and arrest you on the spot are not really true.

You only have to fear the CRA breaking down your door (really the RCMP, but I’m sure the CRA would be there somewhere along the way) if you have done something wrong.  Very wrong.  Criminally wrong.

You should be concerned if the CRA knows you’ve done something criminally wrong, or have been involved in terrorist financing or activity because they’ll pass that along to the police.

The Canada Revenue Agency gained the little-noticed new authority, which does not require a judicial warrant, through an amendment tucked into the government’s most recent budget bill.

Previously, confidentiality provisions in the law prevented the CRA from handing information about suspected wrongdoing, on its own initiative, to law enforcement.

The exception was information that pointed to tax-related crimes.

The new provisions apply to offences including breaking and entering, vehicle theft, arson, corruption and kidnapping and in return, the CRA can now receive information from local authorities about any offence with a minimum prison term, or one with a maximum sentence of 14 years.

The list of offences is broad and is a significant shift in confidentiality policy allowing the CRA to pass along information to law authorities without a court-ordered warrant, even when the alleged crime(s) have nothing to do with taxes.

Interim procedures for administering the new powers were issued to all CRA employees in June 2016 not too long after the legislation received royal assent.

The intended use of this new tool, is that an exchange should occur when an employee gathers information in the course of their regular duties.

This information exchange was intended to be one-way and would be closely controlled through a set of strict criteria.

As an aside, it would have been nice to know who might be carrying on criminal activity, when I was working at the CRA and went to visit a business to determine why they stopped filing GST returns, only to learn that they were conducting illegal activities and was physically threatened before getting the heck out of there.

The following day the RCMP showed up, cleaned out the place and arrested the operators.

I never did get my outstanding GST returns, however, which could have been prosecuted as a criminal offense (but was not).

All potential referrals to police will be vetted by the agency’s criminal investigations personnel and must be approved by the assistant commissioner of the department’s compliance programs branch, CRA has reported.

The key points to remember are this;

  1. If you happen to have partaken in a criminal activity, you might not want to disclose that to the CRA collector.
  2. Make sure to stay compliant!  File up to date and don’t give the CRA reasons for looking for stuff.
  3. Take all of the tax-related advertising with a grain of salt.  Their intention is to scare you and force you to drop a ton of cash at their business.  Instead, I recommend you do your research, ask questions and get the solution that fits your tax problem.
  4. If you’re not sure… Ask.  Then use your judgement.

 

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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 tax@goldhar.ca.

 

 

Your Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Tax Collections Questions Answered

Here are the answers to the most frequently asked CRA Tax collections questions from the past weekend:IMG_7817

  1. Can you bribe a CRA officer in Canada?

Answer: NO.

First off, bribing a CRA officer is a criminal offense and you could quickly wind up with the RCMP at your door, or under investigation, but more realistically, the staff at the CRA tend to be lifelong civil servants and one of the great benefits of working in the civil service is the great pension.  Few civil servants are willing to even entertain the thought of giving up their pensions, let alone going to jail for someone when they have hundreds of other people to collect from.

2.   Is there GST/HST on a lien?

Answer: Let’s presume that the question is asking if there is additional GST / HST on a lien, and the lien has been registered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).  In that scenario, the answer is no.

The CRA would register a lien for unpaid or unfiled (and assessed) GST / HST, and the amount used for the lien is the amount owing on the day it has been registered in Federal Court.  This fact is important because from that day forth, interest continues to accrue and accumulate on the tax account with the CRA, but the lien only reflects the amount owing at a point in time.

Often, a lien will get paid out and then the CRA’s computer system kicks out an update Notice of Assessment with an additional balance owing  and taxpayers are puzzled having just paid off a lien.

They did pay the lien.

Now they pay the rest of the balance owing.

3.   Where can I get the truth about Voluntary Disclosure?

Answer: From the CRA website, of course.  The link to the VDP section of their site is here;  http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/voluntarydisclosures/

4.   Can I claim mileage drive to and from work at the CRA?

Answer: I hope you enjoy your career at the CRA and are not an auditor, because you should know this answer!  You cannot claim mileage driving to and from work.

From the CRA website; http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/ncm-tx/rtrn/cmpltng/ddctns/lns206-236/229/slry/mtrvhcl-eng.html

“If you use a motor vehicle for both employment and personal use, you can deduct only the percentage of expenses related to earning income. To support the amount you can deduct, keep a record of both the total kilometres you drove and the kilometres you drove to earn employment income. We consider driving back and forth between home and work as personal use.”

CRA Reminder! This Monday, June 15th 2015, is the Deadline for Self-Employed Individuals to File their 2014 Income Tax and Benefit Return!

inTAXicating and The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) would like to remind those taxpayers who are self-employed individuals (and their spouses or common-law partners) that the 2015 personal tax (T1) tax filing deadline is midnight on Monday, June 15, 2015.

If you had an outstanding balance for 2014, it would have had to be paid to the CRA on or before May 5th 2015, which is different from the normal April 30th deadline as a result of that extension granted by the CRA this year.

If you miss the deadline, you might be liable for a late-filing penalty (cumulative if you have been filing late in multiple consecutive years), and / or a late-filing penalty on amounts owing which applies to returns received after the June 15, 2015 deadline.

The CRA suggests you file electronically, using NETFILE , which allows you to file your individual income tax and benefit return over the Internet quickly and easily.  For a list of software and web service options, including those that are free for everyone, go to http://www.netfile.gc.ca/software.

If you have a balance owing, you can make your payment using your financial institution’s telephone or Internet banking service. For more information about online payments, go to http://www.cra.gc.ca/payments or contact your financial institution, or search through the blog posts at inTAXicating.wordpress.com for a post on how to make payments to the CRA.

You can also pay using the pre-authorized debit online service offered through the CRA’s “My Account” feature. The pre-authorized debit allows you to:

  • Set up a payment to be made from your bank account to the CRA on a pre-set date
  • pay an overdue amount
  • make instalment payment

You can also make your payment using the CRA’s “My Payment” service. My Payment lets you make one or more payments in one simple online transaction.  You can use this service if you have access to online banking at a participating financial institution.

You can also sign up for direct deposit to receive your refund in your account at your Canadian financial institution-no more waiting for a cheque to arrive in the mail, however as I have mentioned in many previous posts, signing up for this service provides the CRA with your banking information which is the first place they will try to seize if you ever have a balance owing to them.

Save time – go online!

The CRA’s online services make it faster and easier to handle your business’s tax matters. You, your employee, or your representative can file, pay, and access detailed information about your tax accounts-all online, all at your fingertips. To learn more about the CRA’s electronic services for businesses, go to http://www.cra.gc.ca/businessonline.

If you have questions or concerns regarding your taxes or a letter / notice you have received from the CRA, drop us an email at info@intaxicating.ca or intaxicatingtaxservices@gmail.com.  Take advantage of our free consultation.

Money Mentors’ Advice for 2014 Taxes

I came across this article relating to Canadian Tax Filing for 2014, and thought it was worth a share.  The article can be read via the link below.

Money Mentors’ Advice for 2014 Taxes.

This article outlines how the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website, http://www.cra.gc.ca, can be used to keep up to date on any changes for 2014, and for 2015, which could help Canadians save money.

Money Mentors list themselves as being “the only Alberta-based, not-for-profit credit counselling agency.”   What I like about this article is that this firm also believes that credit counselling, money coaching, retirement planning, tax saving and community financial literacy are essential to contributing to a healthier financial future for all Canadians.  

Read the article, but as an outline, the topics covered include;

1) RRSP’s and TFSA’s

2) Charitable Donations

3) Medical Expenses 

4) Public Transit

5) Child’s Art/Fitness Amount

6) Childcare Expenses

7) Job-Hunting Expenses

8) First Homes

9) Students 

Enjoy, and please do not forget to get your Canadian Tax Return filed and paid – if at all possible – by April 30th!

If you have any tax-related questions, specifically relating to collection matters with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), you can reach out for a free consult with us via email at intaxicatingtaxservices@gmail.com, or to me, Warren Orlans, at worlans@intaxicating.ca.  We can also be reached on the phone or by text at 416.833.1581.

Please be patient as we are swamped and it may take some time for you to get a response.  Feel free to follow up and bug us in the same manner as the CRA bugs you.  We’re okay with that.

Also feel free to get more information about us at http://www.intaxicating.ca.

Not All Tax Information Found on the Internet is true! Are you shocked?!?

Did you know that not all the tax information and suggestions you find on the Internet are true?

Of course you knew that!

I’ve joked with everyone from my children, to family, friends, employers, employees and even director’s and CEO’s of huge organizations that tax information “must be true!  It’s on the Internet”, no matter how absurd it might appear to be.

We all know, or should know to take everything we read with a grain of salt… and that fact-checking is critical when trying to decide if information is legitimate, completely made up, or aimed to scare you.

Sources

As we scroll through pages and pages of information, reading about situations and stories about how the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) administers tax law here in Canada it is easy to lose sight of goal, which is to get a better understanding of what is acceptable and what is not regarding so many aspects of taxation.  The best indicator of how close to the truth an article is can be determined by the sources cited in that piece.

An article about the CRA with a link to the CRA website (which backs up the facts) is the best indicator that the author knows their stuff.

If, however, you come across an article which has no references, no supporting links to the originating source, or links from a website titled something like “I_want_to_stop_the_CRA.org” then you can be assured the information is not going to be accurate, it is not going to help you, and more likely it was written to scare you, or present a horror story to get you to contact them to help you.

Don’t waste your time on those… Ever!

When a prominent tax lawyer wanted everyone to stop looking for solutions on the Internet it was presented that the CRA could find out you have a tax problem by sneaking into your house, taking your computer, breaking in to it, and seeing that you have been looking for tax help online.

GASP.

Well, guess what?

If the CRA has to come and seize your computer, they already know you have a tax problem!  They cannot seize your computer unless it’s part of a criminal investigation.

The true intention of these ads is not to warn you about a new power that the CRA has secretly acquired, but rather this firm doesn’t want you seeing that there are options available for you online to fix the problem yourself.  So they scare you away from the Internet so you won’t find helpful tips and solutions at firms like this one, inTAXicating.

Better to hire them then get advice from a real former CRA Collection employee to help get you back on track.

In a capitalistic marketplace I don’t blame them, but I am concerned.  Tax is confusing, especially when a tax problem suddenly arises and the CRA is pressuring you to fix it quickly in one of their 3 ways:

1) Pay it

2) File up-to-date and watch the balance go away, or,

3) Go bankrupt.

How can you be expected to make that sudden choice which has significant short and long-term implications on you, your business, your family and your life, without having the facts, all the facts, and not just the facts the CRA wants you to have, or that you believe they are telling you.

That’s where I come in, specifically, this blog, this business and this business model.

I want you to know the truth.

I want you to be able to make an informed decision whether that decision is made via information found on this blog, or on my website, or through an email to me.  I want you to be able to understand the CRA and their collection, enforcement, audit, filing process and administrative process as well as I do.

I want you to understand the corporate culture there and that very infrequently is there an agent on the other side of the phone with your picture on a dart board in their cubicle.

I want you to know your options, your best next steps and that your long-term plan of action will not only help you resolve your tax situation but also keep you and the CRA happy.

I want you to know that in situations where I feel that you cannot do this alone, that I can help you, and will help you, make matters right, and I want you to know that a tax problem does not occur overnight and resolving them can take a long-time.

I have the knowledge and understanding that no-one else can claim to possess about the CRA collections policies and process and I don’t say that to boast, but rather to inform.  I don’t profess to have an “army” of “real” CRA staff with me, nor do I pretend that background is in any area other than where it shows on my web-site, blog, and on my LinkedIn profile.  Collections, collection, collections.

I’m also not going top pretend that a background in Appeals or Audit is going to help you better than a back ground in Collections.  To each their own.

I write my blog posts myself and where possible I cite everything I can to the CRA website so that you can be comfortable knowing that information you read on my social media platforms are sourced from the people who want you to pay your taxes and question your deductions and filing deadlines.

I don’t write my posts in order to scare anyone or to force them to use my services, because quite frankly, I want everyone to be able to navigate the Canadian tax system without ever having problems and running afoul of the CRA and in a perfect world, one day I’ll be able to provide a users guide to the CRA to allow people to file, re-file and pay without incurring penalties and / or interest and where the CRA understands why people can’t, won’t or are unable to do so and then have the CRA deal with them in an understanding manner.

But for now, we have to take it one day at a time, and one situation at a time.

The best day to start fixing tax problems is today.  There are always solutions and there are always options.  In deciding what you want to do, you need to make sure you are getting the right information and from the right sources.  Be wary of what you read on the Internet because it can make you want to close your blinds, change you name and hide from the CRA when all they want you to do is to close an account or file a nil return.

Get the facts!

inTAXicating Tax Services offers a free 15-minute consultation to determine how to best proceed with a tax situation.

From there if’s decided that a written plan of action is needed, I can produce one for you.

If from that, a decision is made to engage inTAXicating to represent you in your dealings with the CRA, then we determine if the hourly or fixed plan works best for you.

You don’t have to worry about opening those brown envelopes.  Help is here!

http://www.intaxicating.ca

http://www.intaxicating.wordpress.com

info@intaxicating.ca

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Tax-Related Things That Confuse Canadians.

I came across this interesting article from the Globe and Mail newspaper called “10 Tax Related Things that Leave Canadians Stumped”, and while I suggest you read the original article, I have used this article for inspiration to provide 13 Tax-Related Things that Confuse Canadians.

  1. Why can’t spouses file joint income tax returns as they can do in the US?
  2. Why are parents only allowed a transfer of $5,000 of their child’s unused tuition, education and book credits?  The parent is often the one who paid the costs of tuition, should they not be able use all of it?
  3. If I received an actual dividend of $1,000, why do I report $1,380 on my tax return ($380 is called a “dividend gross-up” and the purpose of grossing up a payment is to bring the dividend back up to the amount of money the corporation earned before it paid corporate tax.
  4. Why must child care expenses be claimed by the lower-income spouse?  Understanding that the motivation behind this child care deduction is to get people with children back to work to help drive the economy, but the way this deduction is written it is claimed by the lower-income spouse based on 2/3rds of their income.  By doing this, the deduction is constrained by that spouse’s income.  Should it not be based on the higher-earning spouse so that the family could often get a larger child care claim to offset the costs and since it’s being paid, why are they not allowed to claim it in full in each and every case?
  5. When one spouse has a tax refund and the other owes money, why can’t you net the refund and tax payment against each other? Again, this would simplify our tax system and reduce the administration and paper work for the CRA, but the privacy rules are cited for this not happening. but should the situation be different – a spouse with a debt – and they are all over that!
  6. Why do people hold on to their investments too long before converting them, resulting in a capital gain becoming a capital loss?  Yes, the tax on capital gains is 23% but paying tax on a gain is much better than losing money, isn’t it?
  7. How is it that the CRA never knows when people move when they are looking for missing filings or returns but they always know where I am when they need to send a legal warning letter or register a lien against a property.?
  8. Why do people pay no attention to the RRSP contribution limit information on their income tax assessments when planning their contributions for the year, usually at the last-minute in March? An individual’s RRSP contribution limit for the upcoming year is printed right on the Notice of Assessment for the prior year and can be found through the “My Accounts” section of the CRA website.
  9. Why can self-employed people claim mortgage interest as a home-office expense while employees cannot? If you have an employer that requires you to work from home and they sign a T2200 form saying so, why should an employee’s deductible expenses be restricted in comparison to a self-employed person’s?
  10. Why can I deduct my car expenses when I drive directly to my client’s office from my home – but when I drive to my own office to work with the client via teleconference or telephone, why is the mileage considered personal?
  11. Why is the maximum childcare expense set at $7,000, when the monthly child care cost far exceeds $1,000 in many cities? It drops to $4,000 for children aged 7 to 16.
  12. If the CRA send me a refund cheque in error – their error – and whether I cash it or not, they charge me penalties and interest when they recover it?
  13. How a CRA audit deemed to be a “random” audit where the auditor states that they are not looking for anything, always has something behind it which caused it.  Why can’t they just say, “You’ve been snitched on”, or “You claimed an expense with a fake invoice” or even “You took cash from your business and deposited it into your personal account.”  That way, knowing the gig is up, the auditor could transfer all like issues over and assess and give the person a warning that will have meaning.

Can anyone answer any of these?

 

Time will tell.