Your working partnership with the CRA

If you are an unincorporated small-business owner rushing to make your June 15 tax-filing deadline, or the shareholder of a corporation, you may be interested in several “red tape” reduction initiatives the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has introduced. The goal is to make it easier for you to file to and communicate with the CRA using the “My Business Account” portal. But remember: in the working partnership between you and the CRA, you still have important responsibilities, despite new online features.

The secure “My Business Account” portal features a new landing page which allows you to make online enquiries (the CRA will provide a written response within 10 days and it stands behind that promise), file GST/HST returns and make or transfer payments. As well, the CRA will provide detailed reports on corporate balances and allow you to calculate instalments and payroll deductions.

Quebec-based consultant Christian Belanger — who is giving a presentation at the Knowledge Bureau’s Audit Defence Workshop at the National Club in Toronto on Monday, May 28, — says Canadian companies and their advisors should periodically review the possibility that money is lying idle in corporate tax instalment accounts. Belanger has written a guide to assist in the recovery of funds. The CRA’s online enhancements will help businesses monitor possible overpayments.

In the end, however, a successful relationship with CRA is all about the orderly retrieval of the documents supporting the numbers on your tax returns. From an audit perspective, the onus of proof is on you to ensure the hard facts match what’s happening online. It is also up to you to ensure that you are paying the correct amount of taxes.

In an electronic world, when the CRA requests an audit, the need to produce relevant backup documentation is immediate. The fact that we are doing so much more online muddies the retrieval procedures for some — and makes reviewing your documentation storage and retrieval process crucial.

Remember, there is a higher probability that business owners, commissioned salespeople claiming auto or other expenses, and taxpayers claiming discretionary expenditures such as childcare, moving expenses, donations or medical expenses will be audited.

It’s Your Money. Your Life. Convenient new online services for businesses will help the CRA streamline its business operations, improve review and response times, and save money. Be sure you understand the effect of these changes on your responsibilities as a taxpayer, to make sure it works in your favour, too.

Evelyn Jacks is president of the Knowledge Bureau. Join us at the Audit Defence Workshop May 28 in Toronto, 29th in Winnipeg and 30th in Vancouver. To enrol call 1-866-953-4769.


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