Expected Changes to CRA’s VDP: Preview

On June 9th, 2017, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) launched a 60-day online consultation with Canadians on the Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP), in which the CRA is seeking input from the public to ensure that the program is more “responsive, innovative and fairer for all Canadians”.

One of the key asks by the CRA is this question; “We are asking you – when should the VDP apply? Should it apply only to those who knowingly choose to not pay their taxes or also to those who make mistakes on their returns?”

Based on that question, many organizations have been putting out materials stating that the CRA is changing the program and that it is already been decided, however that is not the case, yet, as the consultation period has not even ended.

What Is Voluntary Disclosure?

The Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP) gives Canadian taxpayers a chance to change a tax return they have previously filed or file a return that should have filed and by making these changes through the VDP, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) may give relief from prosecution and penalties.

By applying to the CRA under the VDP, a Canadian taxpayer might only pay the taxes owing plus interest.

The disclosure MUST meet all four of the following conditions to be valid;
1. A penalty would apply
2. It is voluntary, which means it is made before the CRA takes any compliance action against you
3. the information is at least one year overdue
4. it includes all the relevant information – meaning it is full and complete.

Anyone can use the VDP, including individuals, businesses, employers, payers, trusts and estates, whether a resident or a non-resident of Canada.

Why Changes to the VDP?

When the CRA found out that there were Canadian taxpayers hiding money offshore, they began to consider whether the current VDP was fair for all Canadians. Should a taxpayer who forgets to include an income source be granted the same relief as a taxpayer hiding money overseas and failing to disclose that income in order to reduce the amount of taxes they would have to pay in Canada?

The answer clearly is no, it’s not fair, and the CRA wants to change the program to make it easier for actual errors and omissions to be fixed, while making it much more difficult to allow tax evaders to utilize the program to avoid prosecution.

The most meaningful change expected in the VDP is the introduction of a two-track system:
1) the General Program, and
2) the Limited Program.

The Limited Program would limit the availability of the program in certain circumstances or where there is a “major non-compliance” as such relief for penalty and partial interest relief could be seen as “overly generous.”
Under the General Program, taxpayers who qualify for the VDP will not be charged penalties or referred for criminal prosecution with respect to the disclosure, and may be entitled to partial relief for any interest in respect of assessments preceding the three most recent years of returns required to be filed.

Whereas under the Limited Program, applications that disclose “major non-compliance” will not receive the same level of relief as they would under the current VDP. Taxpayers will not be referred for criminal prosecution and will not be charged a gross negligence penalty with respect to the disclosure, however, other penalties will be charged as applicable such as a late filing penalty, a failure to remit penalty, an instalment penalty or an omission penalty. Additionally, no interest relief will be provided.

What Might Constitute “Major Non-Compliance?”

Major non-compliance might look like this:
• Taxpayers who undertook active efforts to avoid detection through the use of offshore vehicles or other means
• Large dollar amounts being disclosed
• Multiple years of non-compliance
• A sophisticated taxpayer, or use of sophisticated tax avoidance techniques under the advice of a sophisticated professional, and
• The disclosure is made the CRA has released information aimed at cracking down on taxpayers failing to disclose all their income

The determination of whether an application should be processed under the Limited Program will be made on a case by case basis.

Other Considerations
While determining the status of an application to the VDP, the CRA will also consider;
• If they will require payment in full of the estimated taxes owing as a condition of acceptance
• If transfer pricing cases and applications from corporations with gross revenue in excess of $250 million qualify
• If applications that disclose income from the proceeds of crime will be allowed access to the program

The CRA will continue to cancel VDP applications if they learn that the disclosure was not full and complete, or if was intentionally inaccurate.

The release of the changes to the CRA’s VDP will be announced in the fall, and the above is speculation as to what the new program will look like. If you, or anyone you know has failed to fully or accurately disclosure income, it’s best for them to speak to a professional now, especially before there are changes to the program which might disqualify them.
We, at Goldhar TAX Solutions, are always available to discuss the CRA’s VDP and you can find us at http://www.goldhartaxsolutions.ca, or send us an email to tax@goldhar.ca

 

Tax Freedom Day, 2017. Working For Ourselves Now… Theoretically.

June 9, 2017 is Tax Freedom Day!

What is Tax Freedom Day?

Does it really exist?

What might it mean to me?

In their annual report, the Fraser Institute, a Vancouver-based think-tank added up all forms of taxation — from income and sales taxes, to more hidden costs such as gasoline taxes, carbon taxes, tobacco and alcohol taxes, municipal property taxes, payroll taxes and even CPP and EI premiums — to come up with a figure for the overall tax burden for Canadian families, and this year, they have determined that the average Canadian family with two or more people will earn $108,674 and pay 43.4% in taxes.

Based on the Fraser Institute math, 100% of income earned thus far in 2017 has been gobbled up by government in taxes, and only now are you working for yourself until the end of the year.

Last year, in 2016, it came a day earlier, on June 8th and because of variances in all types of taxes in different provinces, Tax Freedom Day differs across the country, ranging from May 21st in Alberta to June 25th in Newfoundland and Labrador.

One of the reasons for the extra day is to account for the fact that Canadians’ tax bill has risen, on average, by $1,126 this year, according to the Fraser Institute. Of that increase, $542, came from higher income taxes, but sales taxes (up $311) and other energy-related taxes (up $204) also took a bigger bite while liquor, tobacco, amusement, and other excise taxes, payroll and health taxes, and import duties all decreased.

The Ottawa-based Broadbent Institute, however, disputes the math behind the annual Fraser Institute report, because the Fraser Institutes uses “average” tax rates instead of median tax rates.

To come up with its “average” tax rates, the Fraser Institute simply adds up the amount of cash income earned by a taxpayer, and then divides that by the number of people. It then takes “outliers” and excludes those extremes from the calculations.

The Broadbent Institute said that skews the numbers in a certain way, and a better way than the average would be to use the median — the exact mid-point between the top and bottom and the rationale behind this surrounds the fact that the average income of Canada will always be higher than the median because of the small number of very high-income earners in Canada, which skews the average income amount higher.

Adding up only federal and provincial income taxes, the “average” Canadian in prime working years (between 25 – 54 years of age) earned $62,600 last year, and paid $12,000 in taxes, or around 19%, according to tax filings. Using the Broadbent method of calculation, the median for that group earned $50,500 last year and paid $7,000, or 14%, in income taxes.

Another main difference is that the figures used by Fraser Institute report doesn’t just include income taxes. It tabulates all sorts of fees that taxpayers don’t directly pay, such as payroll taxes and resource royalties that companies pay when they extract things like oil, minerals and timber.

It also only considers what it calls “cash income” on the other side of the ledger. That excludes employee benefits, investment income from pension plans and other forms of cash income.

The Fraser report also takes into consideration indirect costs like payroll taxes and other taxes which businesses pay in their calculations because even though businesses pay these taxes directly, the cost of business taxation is passed on to Canadians.

So now that we’re working for ourselves, let’s push all levels of government to treat our tax dollars more wisely, and let’s earn as much as possible (while continuing to pay our taxes on time!)

Canada Turns 150, the Income Tax Act turns 100

Bob Hamilton, the Commissioner and Nancy Chabwan, the Deputy Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Celebrates 100 Years of Taxes with #Canada150

2017 marks not only Canada’s 150th Birthday, but also the 100th Anniversary of the Income Tax Act (ITA).

To mark this anniversary, the CRA has put together a video that highlights the history of income Taxes in Canada and the role they play in building the country and lifestyle of Canadians – as well as how the CRA has evolved to meet the needs of Canadians over the years.

The 150th birthday of Canada is July 1st.

The 100th anniversary of the ITA is September 20th

Watch the video, and share with a de-taxer near you.

How do I correct or dispute inaccuracies on my credit file?


I get lots of questions related to Credit Bureaus and items which show up well after they have been paid or which do not belong on there at all.

Having worked for Equifax many, many years ago right after I started working for the CRA and they release all the temporary staff for an 11-month period due to budget cuts, I can proudly say that Equifax makes it very easy to communicate with them regarding any such issues.

It’s all laid out on their website, but I provided a summary here:

Complete and submit a Consumer Credit Report Update Form to Equifax.

It is necessary to specify what information is incorrect or what information does not belong to you.

Equifax will verify that information afterwards as part of their investigation.

You will need to include photocopies of all necessary documents and identification to update your personal Credit Report (Ex: receipts, legal documents, 2 photocopies of pieces of valid identification, including proof of current address)

Fax the request to them at:

Fax: (514) 355-8502

Your request will be processed within 10 to 15 business days. After this period has elapsed, a confirmation letter will be sent to your mailing address.

OR

By Mail:

Equifax Canada Co.
Consumer Relations Department
P.O. Box 190, Station Jean-Talon,
Montreal, Quebec H1S 2Z2

Your request will be processed within 15 to 20 business days . After this period has elapsed, a confirmation letter will be sent to your mailing address.

Equifax will verify the necessary information and mail you a confirmation.

 

Could it be any easier than that?!?

 

Back from vacation and catching up! How we can help – details included.

Just wanted to drop a quick note to all of you who called, emailed and hit me up on the blog or on social media that we’re back to work and trying to get to everyone as soon as possible.

If anyone has an urgent matter, please send an email to info@intaxicating.ca, in the subject line, please write “urgent” and that will be the top priority.

For new readers of this blog or who are seeing this blog through our website, here is what you need to know!

inTAXicating is a Canadian tax consulting business which provides solutions to Canadian Tax problems predominantly related to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), but not limited to the CRA.

With over 20-years experience in Canadian Tax (throw in some IRS tax, FATCA, Revenu Quebec, Cross-border matters and WSIB) combined with over 10-years working in the CRA in their collections division, you have the experience and expertise that no-one else can boast to have.

Our model is simple! Give you the truth based on the facts.

You get a free consultation and if it is determined that you can handle it best, or if your questions are quickly answered, then you are on your way.

If there are more complex matters which may eventually require greater expertise, then you have the option to handle you tax matters up to that point and then hand it over, or you may wish to hand it over right away…

It’s your taxes and you need to know what is being done and how to properly handle them going forward.

There are no magical cures for tax problems which took years and years to grow, so if anyone promises you a magic bullet, proceed with caution.

inTAXicating also believes that everyone who earns money needs to pay their taxes, however, they should pay what they owe, and in circumstances where there is no ability to pay, the government should understand that and give you a break.

No questions are bad questions.

I do not believe in the “natural person” being exempt from taxes because the CRA does not believe it, but I have spoken to many, many “de-taxers” and enjoy the conversations and helping them through the CRA’s prosecutions.

We specialize in all matters relating to CRA collections, specifically Directors Liability, Taxpayers Relief, s160 assessments, liens, and garnishments, RTP’s.

We provide audit representation, accounting (through a CA), as well as presenting the options to solve all tax matters including the ugliest and most complex tax matters. The messier the better!

In short, we want to help.

15 minute Consultation / responding to questions via email – free
Meeting – $250 plus HST (one hour meeting – detailed summary and recommended plan of action included)
Engagement – either hourly @ $250/hour or a fixed fee depending on the complexity and amount of work involved.
Accounting – best rates possible also related to the amount of work involved.

We try to stick to this model as best as humanly possible because it’s your money and you work hard for it, so you should not have to throw it away.

info@intaxicating.ca

Milowe Brost, Convicted of Theft and Fraud. Ordered to pay $390,878 in Evaded Taxes to CRA.

Milowe Brost, recently convicted of theft and fraud ordered to pay $390,878 in evaded taxes.

Another example of how a Ponzi scheme can result in a long-prison sentence and huge fine.

Unfortunately, the “victims” here are the people who took part in this scheme because they still owe taxes plus gross negligence penalties (50%) plus the CRA and the Courts have long considered people who partake in these scams and schemes to have done so knowingly and with full understanding they they are illegal.

 

2014 Canadian Tax Filing Calendar. Important Deadlines Coming Up In 2015.

I receive a lot of queries surrounding the key Canadian Tax Filing Dates and Deadlines which impacts Individuals and Businesses, so I gathered that information and while not exhaustive, it highlights key dates and deadlines for you to remember and mark on your calendar for the next couple of months.

Remember being late results in penalties and interest and penalties incurred year over year increase in percentage.  For example, a regular non-filer who became a late filer was paying a late filing penalty of 62% by his 5th year of late filing.CRA Logo

2015 Canadian Tax Dates and Deadlines for the 2014 Taxation Year.

For Individuals:

On or before April 30th, 2015 (a Thursday) is the Personal Income Tax return deadline.

Self-Employed (you or spouse/common-law partner):

If you or your spouse or common-law partner carried on a business in 2014 (other than a business whose expenditures are primarily in connection with a tax shelter), the deadline to file your 2014 income tax and benefit return is midnight on June 15th, 2015.

*** However, if you have a balance owing for 2014, you still have to pay it on or before April 30, 2015.

Deceased:

If you are the legal representative – executor, administrator, or liquidator – of the estate of an individual who died in 2014, you may have to file a return for 2014 for that individual.

Information relating to those filing requirements can be found on the CRA website; Guide T4011, Preparing Returns for Deceased Persons,

Additional information can be found here: Information Sheet RC4111, What to do following a death.

The due date for the final return will depend on the date of death and whether or not the deceased or his or her spouse or common-law partner carried on a business in 2014.

Of note, if  you received income in 2014 for a person who died in 2013 or earlier, do not file an individual return for 2014 for that income on behalf of that person.  You likely will have to file a T3 Trust Income Tax and Information Return for the estate.

RRSP Contributions:

March 2nd, 2015 is the deadline for contributing to an RRSP and to have that contribution count towards your 2014 tax year.

If you suspect you might owe taxes, making a RRSP contribution should help lessen the burden, and in some cases will turn your liability into a credit.

Employee / Nanny Filing Deadline for providing a T4:

In all instances, you have to file your T4 information return (T4’s plus T4 Summary) on or before the last day of February following the calendar year that the information return applies to.

If the due date falls on a Saturday, a Sunday, or a public holiday, your return is due the next business day, so for 2015, they are due March 2nd, 2015 as February 28th falls on a Saturday.

The CRA considers your return to be filed on time if they receive it or it is postmarked on or before the due date.  If you fail to file it on time, the CRA will likely assess a penalty.

If you have more than one payroll program account, you will have to file a separate information return for each account.

If you need to file early due to bankruptcy or if your business stops operating, you are required to file within 30 days from the date your business ends.

If the owner of a business dies, the T4 slips and T4 Summary have to be filed within 90 days from the date of death.

You must file information returns by Internet if you file more than 50 information returns (slips) for a calendar year. More information is available at the CRA website, here: Filing Information Returns Electronically (T4/T5 and other types of returns).

General filing information:

* Please keep in mind that if the deadline falls on a weekend or public holiday, for federal income tax purposes, your return is filed on time if it is received or it is postmarked on the next business day.

As well, you should note the difference in “received” dates the CRA adheres to.  The CRA considers something to have been received by a taxpayer once the CRA sends that item out to a known address they have on file.  On the other hand, the CRA does not consider your paperwork or payments as being received until the CRA actually has said cheque or return in hand and stamps it with their postmark.  Mailing something on February 28th which is due February 28th is likely going to result in a penalty for late filing.

* In cases where an individual dies, the final income tax return must generally be filed on or before the regular filing deadline for the year OR six months after the date of death of the individual – whichever is later.

* There will be no income inclusion for an operating cost benefit if an employee fully reimburses the employer for all operating expenses, including GST/HST and PST, relating to the personal use of the automobile within 45 days after the end of the calendar year.

* An employee who has received a low-interest loan from an employer during any part of the year is deemed to have received a taxable employment benefit that is calculated as interest at the CRA’s prescribed rate for the period during which the loan was outstanding. The amount of the benefit is reduced by any interest actually paid on the loan within 30 days of the end of the calendar year.

* Where a family member has loaned funds to another family member or to a family trust, the income attribution rules may not apply on the related investment income where interest on the loan is charged at a rate at least equal to the prescribed rate that was in effect when the loan was made and where interest on the loan is paid by January 30 of the following year.

* In the case of a general corporation, the due date for the balance owing for a taxation year is generally the last day of the second month following the end of the year. In addition, provided certain conditions are met, the due date for the balance owing for CCPCs is the last day of the third month following the end of the taxation year.

* Corporations are required to pay monthly tax installments during the year if their total taxes payable (which is specifically defined) for the current or preceding taxation year is more than $3,000.

* In cases where the taxation year-end of the corporation is the last day of the month, installment payments are due on or before the last day of each month or each quarter. Where the taxation year-end of the corporation does not fall on the last day of the month, the first installment is due one month or quarter less a day from the first day of the corporation’s taxation year-end. Subsequent installments are due on the same day of each of the following months or quarters.

* CCPCs may pay quarterly installments if the following conditions are met:

  • The corporation’s taxable income, and that of any associated corporations, for the current or previous year does not exceed $500,000;
  • The corporation claimed the small business deduction in computing its tax payable for the taxation year or for the preceding taxation year;
  • The corporation’s taxable capital employed in Canada, and that of any associated corporations, does not exceed $10 million in the year or in the preceding taxation year; and
  • Throughout the 12 months ending at the last installment payment date, the corporation made all tax remittances and filings under the Income Tax Act, Employment Insurance Act, Canada Pension Plan or GST/HST section of the Excise Tax Act on time.

* The due date of a GST/HST return is determined by the reporting period. If the reporting period is monthly or quarterly, the GST/HST return must be filed and any amount owing must be remitted no later than one month after the end of the reporting period. If there is an annual reporting period, the GST/HST return must be filed and any amount owing must be remitted no later than three months after the end of the fiscal year. Please note that an individual with business income for income tax purposes, who is also an annual filer with a December 31 fiscal year-end, must file their GST/HST return by June 15 and pay their net GST/HST owing by April 30 to avoid penalties and interest.

* Information returns that include T4, T4A, T4A-NR and T5 must be filed on or before the last day of February in each year and shall be in respect of the preceding calendar year.

* An NR4 Information Return must be filed on or before the last day of March or in the case of an estate or trust, no later than 90 days after the end of the estate’s or trust’s tax year. An NR4 Information Return must be filed in respect of payments such as interest, dividends, royalties or pensions made to non-residents in the preceding calendar year.

* In cases where all members of the partnership are individuals (including trusts), the T5013 is due no later than March 31 of the calendar year following the year in which the partnership’s fiscal period ended. In cases where all members of the partnership are corporations, the T5013 is due no later than five months from the end of the partnership’s fiscal period. In all other cases, the T5013 is due on or before the earlier of (i) the day that is five months after the end of the fiscal period, and (ii) the last day of March in the calendar year immediately following the calendar year in which the fiscal period ended or with which the end of the fiscal period coincides.

 

Good news if you are ready to get filing, because the 2014 General Income Tax and Benefit packages are available at post offices as of early February, and the first day you can use NETFILE was February 9th, 2015.