GST & PST & COVID: No Shakedowns Until Further Notice!
April 15, 2020 aadolphCOVID-19,CRA
You know we are living in surreal times when the CRA says that until further notice, no audits are being started.
As we all know, Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) are the spark plugs for the engines that drive the economy.
Experienced business people also know how much the government leans on and sometimes (increasingly) abuses them. CRA has been doing it to them for years, all driven by an executive bonus culture based on tax earned by auditor (TEBA).
This reliance, this need for tax revenue all depends on businesses. Businesses pay their own taxes, make sure their clients pay theirs (GST & PST), and their employees pay theirs (payroll tax). Make any mistakes, or file late, and then face the limitless resources of the government to mess with you.
Shakedowns and Other Hits on Hold for Now
CRA says no new audits will be started until further notice. This goes for both GST and Income Tax.
Almost as impressive is that Appeals have been designated as a critical service, meaning current service levels will be maintained. No word on whether they can maintain their current pace of being 18 months behind all the time.
What Relief is Available, From a Sales Tax Perspective?
For a government that wanted emergency powers lasting until December 2021, the compassion and flexibility they are showing SME’s is ridiculously paltry. For GST returns or payments that came due after C-Day (March 27, 2020), you have until June 30, 2020 to file and pay to avoid penalty and interest. For most SME’s, this represents an extension of 3 months.
Things Change Fast in a Crisis
Although they don’t say it, the government will extend time limits if needed. They can be relied on for that.
Provincial Sales Taxes
The Provinces of BC, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have also issued similar extensions.
PST returns and payments that were due on or after March 23, 2020 are now due by September 30, 2020. Also, the plan to tax carbonated beverages is on hold. You can still buy soda without PST, for now.
Three months of relief for businesses unable to pay on time, but you are still expected to file returns on time. Full payment must be in place by July 31, 2020 for relief to apply. “At this time, audit activities are suspended.” They have a Business Response Team available 8 am – 8 pm at 1-844-800-8668.
Last bulletin issued July, 2019. Visit this website if you long for the days before COVID, because they haven’t issued anything lately.
When’s the Last Time You Checked Behind the Cushions for Money?
During periods of robustness, businesses may not be too concerned about where they are leaking money. With sales taxes, you could be leaking money. The great news is you can go back in time and claim it all, as cash.
These little leakages in your sales tax accounting system can add up to a lot, because:
- You can go back four years
- It’s easy for trained experts to use your accounting records to find them all
- We can do it all remotely
- You don’t know how much is there until you look for it
- If we don’t find anything, it costs you nothing.
Need a referral to file T1 or T2 income tax returns? We’d be happy to refer you to someone.
Andrew Adolph is a CPA and former CRA auditor with 25 Years of experience. He helps businesses to not par any more in sales taxs than the law says they must and acts as an advocate for you if you are being audited, so you can fous on your business.