“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.

 

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.”

Voluntary Disclosure Program Screening

I received an interesting call late Friday afternoon from a Canadian taxpayer who wanted to know more about the Canada Revenue Agency’s Voluntary Disclosure Program.

She said that she thought she was being “swindled”.

She called a “tax solution” type business and they said that for $3,000.00, they would “investigate” as to whether or not she qualified for the program.

To which I asked her this question;

“Has the CRA tried to get you to file outstanding returns, either by phone or by sending letters to you?”

“Yes”, she replied.

“Then you do NOT qualify for the program” was my response.

And I saved her $3000.00.

If the CRA has already reach out to you – or attempted to reach out to you – regarding unfiled returns or unreported income, then your disclosure is no longer voluntary.

For more information, read up on the CRA’s Voluntary Disclosure Program, through the CRA’s website, here.    Or Google “CRA VDP” and refer to the websites beginning with http://www.cra.gc.ca, or http://www.CRA-arc.gc.ca/voluntarydisclosures

 

The Truth about the CRA Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP) that no one wants you to know

Before you waste time and money paying a tax solution company to walk you through the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP), you might want to read this post and learn the facts they don’t want you to know.

In order to “qualify” for the Voluntary Disclosure Program, there are some important facts which must be taken into consideration first;

  1. The disclosure must be voluntary, and by voluntary, the CRA means that the business or taxpayer must not be aware of or have knowledge of an audit, investigation or other enforcement action set to be conducted by the CRA, or initiated by the CRA, with respect to the information being disclosed.
  2. The disclosure must be complete, meaning that all information must be disclosed and all the outstanding years must be filed in this application.
  3. The disclosure must involve the application of a penalty, such as, but not limited to, Late Filing Penalties (LFP), Late Remitting Penalties (LRP), and Failure to make installments, Gross Negligence Penalties.
  4. The disclosure must relate to information that is at least one year past due.

 

If you’ve fallen behind in filing, or failed to disclose or declare income – possibly from overseas / offshore investments / tax shelters / income properties, and the CRA has not previously tried to contact you for the returns, then the VDP might be for you.

The VDP allows taxpayers who make a valid disclosure under the Income Tax Act (ITA) to pay taxes owing plus interest, but avoid penalty and / or prosecution.

To make a valid voluntary disclosure, with the CRA means you would pay only the taxes you owe plus interest, and you may avoid penalties and potential prosecution on the information accepted under the program.

You can file a disclosure to correct inaccurate or incomplete information or to provide information you may have omitted in your previous dealings with the CRA.

To submit a disclosure, fill out and sign Form RC199, Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP) Taxpayer Agreement, or write a letter giving the same information as on the form.

You can submit your Form RC199 or your equivalent letter to the CRA directly, using the Submit documents online service now available through My AccountMy Business Account and Represent a Client.

Once you have logged in to one of these portals, click on “Submit documents” on the left hand navigation menu, select “I do not have a case or reference number,” and then select “Make a voluntary disclosure.” From this point you will be prompted to upload your letter or Form RC199 as well as to provide a short file description.

At the end of the process, you will be given a reference number that you can use if you need to add more documents.

You can also send your disclosure by mail to one of the CRA’s tax centres.

 

The following are circumstances under which VDP relief may be granted:

  • you did not fulfill your obligations under the applicable act;
  • you did not report taxable income you received;
  • you claimed ineligible expenses on your tax return;
  • you did not remit your employees’ source deductions;
  • you did not report an amount of GST/HST (which may include undisclosed liabilities or improperly claimed refunds or rebates or unpaid tax or net tax from a previous reporting period);
  • you did not file information returns; or
  • you did not report foreign-sourced income that is taxable in Canada.

 

Disclosures relating to any of the following are not accepted under the VDP:

  • bankruptcy returns;
  • income tax returns with no taxes owing or with refunds expected;
  • elections;
  • advance pricing arrangements;
  • rollover provisions; and
  • post-assessment requests for penalty and interest relief.

 

You can make an anonymous disclosure, referred to as a “no-name” disclosure.  You will have 90 calendar days – beginning on the date the CRA notifies you that there are 90 days to provide the identity of the taxpayer involved, not 90-days from the date of initial disclosure.

The CRA will close the disclosure file without further contact if the identity is not provided before the 90th day.

Additionally, payments should begin as soon as the disclosure is made in order to reduce the amount of interest which is accruing on the file.

Any “taxpayer” can use the VDP, because the CRA considers a taxpayer to be an individual, an employer, a corporation, a partnership, a trust, a goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) registrant/claimant, and a registered exporter of softwood lumber products. You can also have an authorized representative make a disclosure for you.

 

Time Limit:

There is no limit on how far back the VDP will request or review information. A disclosure must be complete and provide all the relevant information to allow the VDP officer to appropriately review and decide whether statute-barred years should be opened for reassessment. Income will be assessed in the year it is earned. If you have not filed for several years (that is, you are a non‑filer), you are expected to update all your tax years.

You are expected to keep your affairs up to date after using the VDP. You cannot make a second submission for the same issue for which you originally received the benefits of the program, however the CRA will consider a second disclosure in situations where the circumstances were beyond your control.

If this is the case, you will be required to give the CRA your name and tell them that you previously made a disclosure. If you do not reveal that you previously made a disclosure and this is uncovered by the CRA, your disclosure may be considered invalid and denied.

 

Additional information from the CRA

Form RC199, Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP) Taxpayer Agreement

Form RC59, Business Consent

Form T1013, Authorizing or Cancelling a Representative

Information Circular IC00-1R4, Voluntary Disclosures Program

Making a Voluntary Disclosure on your Ontario Corporate Tax

 

Beyond the VDP is the opportunity to apply for Taxpayer Relief for full or partial relief of penalties and or interest, if applicable.

Save yourself the hassle of being subjected to someone else’s agenda.  Know your rights, and your options.  Know the truth.

 

For further information or to discuss the VDP and Taxpayer Relief provisions, send an email to us at info@intaxicating.ca

 

CRA Conviction Notice: Tax Protester Sentenced to 4-Years in Prison.

On November 27th, 2015, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) issued notice that Nicolet, Quebec resident and tax protester named Christian Lachapelle was sentenced to four years in prison by a Court in Quebec.  Lachapelle plead guilty October 22nd, 2014 to charges related to tax fraud.

A Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) investigation revealed that, between June 2007 and November 2010, Mr. Lachapelle advised and enabled 93 individuals to avoid, or try to avoid, paying nearly $2 million in income tax for the 2003 to 2010 tax years.

The scheme used by Mr. Lachapelle consisted of helping or advising individuals to file income tax returns or request a reassessment using the distinction between a “natural” person and a “legal” person.

For some reason, tax protesters continue to attempt this avenue to avoid having to pay taxes and in doing so regularly convince others that this technique can be used when Canadian courts have repeatedly and consistently rejected such arguments.

This is not the first time that Mr. Lachapelle has had issues with the CRA and the law. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail in 2012 for failing to file his income tax returns despite a court order, as well as fines of $7,000 in 2005 and $14,000 in 2011 for the same reasons.

All case-specific information above was obtained from the court records.

The Canada Revenue Agency warns the public to beware of people who assert that Canadians do not have to pay tax on the income they earn. Canadian courts have repeatedly and consistently rejected arguments made in these tax protester schemes. For those involved in such schemes, the CRA will reassess income tax and interest, and charge penalties – usually Gross Negligence Penalties too which can represent at minimum 50% of the tax being evaded.

More information on tax protester schemes can be found on the CRA website, here: www.cra.gc.ca/alert.

If you have ever made a tax mistake or omission, you have the ability to correct this error through the Canada Revenue Agency’s Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP).

You must make the full and complete disclosure before you become aware that the CRA is taking action against you, and if accepted, you may only have to pay the taxes owing plus interest (not penalties).

More information on the CRA’s VDP can be found on the CRA’s website atwww.cra.gc.ca/voluntarydisclosures.

Additional information on CRA convictions can be found on the Media page of the CRA website at www.cra.gc.ca/convictions.

inTAXicating Tax Services exists to provide clarity and solutions for CRA questions and problems.  If you think you have done something wrong, and the CRA might want to assess / re-assess / audit you or your company, you should check with us first.

http://www.intaxicating.ca

info@intaxicating.ca

Real CRA collections experience.  On your side!

CRA Press Release: Tax preparer extradited to Canada (from Italy) for tax fraud in Canada

The following news items was released by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on September 8, 2015, regarding a former Tax preparer from Vaughan, Ontario, who was convicted of Tax Fraud for adding fictitious deductions to 4,200 tax returns from 2003 – 2005.  She was sentenced to 10-years in jail and fined almost $700,000.

The news release read:

“The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced today that Ms. Doreen Tennina was extradited to Canada from Italy on September 4, 2015, and is now in custody serving a 10-year sentence for tax fraud.

On May 31, 2013, Ms. Tennina was found guilty in the Superior Court of Justice in Oshawa, Ontario, on two counts of fraud over $5,000 under the Criminal Code and was sentenced in absentia to the maximum period of 10 years in jail on each count to be served concurrently.  A news release publicizing Ms. Tennina’s conviction and sentence was issued on June 4, 2013.

Ms. Tennina, a former Vaughan, Ontario tax preparer, fraudulently claimed carrying charges and charitable donations totaling $58,500,000 in 4,200 tax returns prepared on behalf of her clients from 2003 to 2005, inclusive. The false claims reduced the amount of federal taxes owed by over $10 million. She was also ordered to pay a fine of $699,608 for causing her company, Executive Accounting, to fail to report income received from the tax evasion scheme.

The preceding information was obtained from the court records.

Taxpayers who claim false expenses, credits or rebates from the government are subject to serious consequences. They are liable not only for corrections to their tax returns and payment of the full amount of tax owing, but also to penalties and interest. In addition, if convicted of tax evasion, the court may impose jail time and fine them up to 200% of the tax evaded.”

Remember, taxpayers who have not filed returns for previous years, or who have not reported all of their income, can still voluntarily correct their tax affairs if the CRA has not contacted them first for the returns.  If applicable, the Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP) allows for filing / amended filing without penalty or prosecution provided the disclosure is full and complete.  These taxpayers may only have to pay the taxes owing, plus interest.

More information on the Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP) can be found on the CRA’s website at www.cra.gc.ca/voluntarydisclosures.

A link to the news release is below;

Your Questions Answered About The CRA’s Informant Leads (Snitch) Line

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has employed the Informant Leads Line, or “Snitch Line” for a very long time, and with incredible results. Only recently has it been getting a lot of attention in the media. The line has been so successful that the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) is reducing their workforce – specifically related to investigations – because they get more detailed information through tipsters than they would if they had employees trying to locate this information.

Who uses this line? Still ex-wives and ex-husbands, former business partners and neighbours who have been confided in and either felt compelled to notify the government of the fraud being committed or who were hurt, harmed or cheated by the person who has been committing the fraud and who used this line as their way to ”get even”.

It is important to know should you decide to call the Canada Revenue Agency’s Informant Leads Line that the CRA takes your privacy VERY seriously and they will never notify the person(s) / organization(s) that you call on that it was you who called their line.

The CRA will cite their “Privacy Notice”, meaning that they regularly collect personal information under the authority of the Income Tax Act (ITA) and the Excise Tax Act (ETA) and they will use that information as the justification for following up on information provided by callers to the Informant Leads Line to determine if there is an element of non-compliance with tax legislation, and if applicable provided to the corresponding compliance program for appropriate enforcement action.

Information provided on this line may also be referred to the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) or Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), in the event that the lead relates to one of the programs they administer.

The information provided is voluntary and will not affect any dealings you may have with the Government of Canada / Revenue Canada.

Here are some answers to the most common questions asked of me, relating to the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) Informant Leads / Snitch Line, starting with:

1) When should I call the CRA’s Informant Leads Line:

When there is “Tax Evasion”, which is an illegal practice where a person or business avoids paying taxes or reduces their taxes by misrepresenting their activities.

2) How can I report tax evasion?

Over the Internet (I have linked the CRA page and provided it here in case you’re nervous about clicking the link)

Link: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/gncy/nvstgtns/lds/menu-eng.html#ntrnt

By phone, mail or fax

Phone: 1-866-809-6841 (toll free)

Fax: 1-888-724-4829 (toll free)

Office hours: 8:15 am. to 5:45 pm. (Eastern Time).

Mailing address:

National Leads Centre

Business Intelligence & Quality Assurance Division

Canada Revenue Agency

200 Town Centre Court Scarborough ON M1P 4Y3

3) Some examples of tax evasion are:

  • not reporting all income
  • claiming deductions for expenses that were not incurred or are not legally deductible
  • claiming false GST/HST tax credits
  • failing to remit source deductions
  • providing false information on marital status or children to obtain benefits and credits

4) What happens to the information provided to the CRA?

The CRA diarizes everything and determines if they need to take immediate enforcement action or if they need additional information before moving forward. Either way, you will never be notified as to whether or whether not the CRA took action as they are prohibited from doing so under section 241 of the ITA and section 295 of the ETA.

5) Does the CRA pay for the information I provide?

No. The CRA does not pay for information received from informants. The CRA does now have the Offshore Tax Informant Program (OTIP) which offers financial awards to individuals with information about major cases of international tax non-compliance resulting in more than $100,000 of additional federal tax being assessed and collected. For more information, please visit the OTIP website, including how to make a submission.

6) What do I get for reporting tax fraud?

Well, besides feeling great, you are helping to ensure that all Canadian taxpayers are paying their fair share of taxes and this benefits all Canadians. The CRA will tell you that if everyone pays what they owe taxes might go down… I’m not holding my breath, but you never know.

7) Will the CRA ever reveal who provided the information to them?

Never!  However, you can provide them with consent to release your identity, should you want that person(s) / organization(s) to know. The CRA has a legal obligation not to disclose the identity of informants, any information that might disclose an informant’s identity or even information that might reveal the existence of an informant is removed, even in the case where an Access to Information request is made.

8) How can you send information by email?

You can submit general informant information to the CRA using their secure Internet portal. If you want to provide supporting documentation you are best to mail or fax it.

9) Does the CRA really look at EVERY lead, and take them seriously?

YES.

10) If I submit a lead, then want to revoke it, is there a way to do that?

NO.

11) What stops someone from phoning in a fake lead?

Well, before the CRA is able to take any action, they require more information that just “My ex has a job working for cash.” They would like any or all of the following information to help them prioritize the severity of the tax evasion and whether they need to get more information or get working on it right away, such as:

  • names and contact information for the person(s) / organization(s) you suspect
  • this can include address, phone, email, and so on
  • social insurance number (SIN) / business number (BN)
  • date of birth
  • spouse’s name
  • business name
  • names of shareholders if a corporation is involved
  • related companies
  • type of fraud you suspect:
    • income tax (personal – T1 or corporate – T2)
    • provincial tax (PST)
    • GST/HST
    • non-filing
    • fraudulent refunds
    • Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB)
    • Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB)
  • details of your observations
  • documents: have you seen these documents? Do you know where they’re kept?
  • does the person deal in cash only? Do you know what they do with the cash?
  • net worth information, such as assets, including those outside Canada (cash, name and address of banks, house, land, cottage, vehicles, boats, etc.)
  • liabilities (loans, mortgages, credit cards, etc.)
  • personal expenditures (food, housing, trips, restaurants, hobbies, etc.)
  • your name and phone number (this is optional)

The CRA will ask you if they can contact you if they require more information. That is up to you.

If at any point, the CRA determines this information is incorrect, fabricated or provided to them for the purposes of committing fraud, not only will they indicate the details on your permanent diary record, but they will also take actions against you.

Once you have submitted a lead to the CRA, it’s good to have an understanding of the fines and/or penalties which can be levied upon the individual / organization, as they can be as high as 200% of the taxes which were attempted to have been evaded.

In addition, the CRA publishes the results of its prosecution activities on its Convictions Web page.

Of course, if you have found yourself to be in violation of any of these requirements and are worried that the CRA will find out, or that someone will call the snitch line on you, you should contact us and we can begin to discuss the steps to help you which may or may not include the CRA’s Voluntary Disclosure Program.

It is ALWAYS better to get to the CRA before they get to you!