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What to do if the Canada Revenue Agency reviews your tax return

If the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) tells you it’s reviewing one or more of your tax returns, don’t panic! In most cases, it’s simply a routine check.

The first thing you should know is a review is not an audit.  If the CRA tells you that your tax return is being reviewed, it is simply to ensure that the amounts you have claimed are reported accurately. It might also be because some documents are required to support your claim. It’s important to respond promptly to the information request or to call the number shown on the letter as soon as possible since there is a time limit involved.

Why is the CRA reviewing your tax return?

The Canadian tax system is based on self-assessment. You don’t usually need to include your documents when you file your tax return. However, from time to time, the CRA will contact individuals under one of its review programs. This is part of the CRA’s efforts to ensure the integrity of the tax system. Make sure you give the CRA the requested documents as soon as possible so it can do its review quickly and easily.

How long do you have to keep your records?

Keep all your tax documents for at least six years from the date you file your tax return. If you claimed expenses, deductions, or tax credits, make sure you keep all your receipts and related documents in case the CRA asks to see them.

What will happen after your review?

The CRA will let you know the result of your review in writing, either in a letter or on a notice of assessment or reassessment.

 

 

Newcomer to Canada? What you need to know to do your taxes

If you are a newcomer to Canada for all or part of a tax year (January 1 to December 31), you need to do your taxes (file an income tax and benefit return) if you receive or want to receive certain benefits and credits, want to claim a refund, or have to pay tax.

Important facts

You become a resident of Canada for income tax purposes when you establish significant residential and social ties in Canada. Examples include having a home, or a spouse or common-law partner in Canada. You usually establish these ties the date you arrive in Canada.

You should still do your taxes even if you have little or no income to report. By filing an income tax and benefit return, you might be able to get benefits and credits such as the goods and services tax credit and the Canada child benefit. Your spouse or common-law partner also has to do their taxes each year for you to receive benefit and credit payments that you may be eligible to receive.

Remember you need to file on time to make sure there are no interruptions to your Canada child benefit, GST/HST credit, and child disability benefit payment!

 

Here’s why the CRA wants to know what’s going on in your bedroom

The state of your marriage or your common-law status is the government’s business as well because of the tax advantages you might get from being married or, conversely, the deductions you might be able to keep by saying you’re still single.

Expanding income splitting for families, something seniors have been able to do with pensions since 2007, could bring the government into your bedroom like never before.

It’s not like the Canada Revenue Agency and the courts haven’t been there previously. Case law on the subject goes back as far as 1980, with one particular court decision often cited because it outlines key criteria for defining what constitutes a common-law or marital relationship.

As judges today wade through the murky waters of whether a couple are truly in a common-law relationship, they are guided by a 1980 court decision.

In a District Court hearing in Thunder Bay, Judge Stanley R. Kurisko set out seven factors that may indicate a couple is in a common-law relationship. His guidance was eventually endorsed by the Supreme Court of Canada.

SHELTER

Did the parties live under the same roof?

What were the sleeping arrangements?

Did anyone else occupy or share the available accommodation?

SEXUAL AND PERSONAL BEHAVIOUR

Did the parties have sexual relations? If not, why not?

Did they maintain an attitude of fidelity to each other?

What were their feelings toward each other?

Did they communicate on a personal level?

Did they eat their meals together?

What, if anything, did they do to assist each other with problems or during illness?

Did they buy gifts for each other on special occasions?

SERVICES

What was the conduct and habit of the parties in relation to:

Preparation of meals,

Washing and mending clothes,

Shopping,

Household maintenance,

Any other domestic services?

SOCIAL

Did they participate together or separately in neighbourhood and community activities?

What was the relationship and conduct of each of them towards members of their respective families and how did such families behave towards the parties?

SOCIETAL

What was the attitude and conduct of the community towards each of them and as a couple?

SUPPORT (ECONOMIC)

What were the financial arrangements between the parties regarding the provision of or contribution towards the necessities of life (food, clothing, shelter, recreation, etc.)?

What were the arrangements concerning the acquisition and ownership of property?

Was there any special financial arrangement between them which both agreed would be determinant of their overall relationship?

CHILDREN

What was the attitude and conduct of the parties concerning children?

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TAX ALERT – GOVERNMENT SIMPLIFIES MEASURES TO REIN IN INCOME SPRINKLING

On December 13, the federal government released legislation to simplify restrictions on income sprinkling, proposed to go into effect January 1, 2018. These revisions indicate they have listened to feedback during the consultation period, by providing more certainty to taxpayers through the introduction of “bright-line” tests to automatically exclude some family members, and allow income sprinkling for those members who make sufficient contributions to the business.

A summary of what the revised legislation contains can be found at https://www.bdo.ca/en-ca/insights/tax/tax-alerts/

 

Home Buyers’ Amount

As a first-time home buyer, you may be able to claim $5,000 for the purchase of a qualifying home in 2017.

To qualify for the home buyers’ amount, you cannot have lived in another home owned by you or your spouse or common-law partner that year or in any of the preceding four years.

The qualifying home must be located in Canada and registered in your name and/or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s name per the applicable land registration system. It includes existing homes, such as single-family houses, semi-detached houses, townhomes, mobile homes, condominium units, apartments in duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, or apartment buildings. It also includes homes under construction.

You do not have to be a first-time home buyer if:

→ You are eligible for the disability tax credit; or

→ You purchased the home for the benefit of a related person who is eligible for the disability tax   credit.

What to expect when the Canada Revenue Agency calls you

It is possible that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will contact you by phone for legitimate tax reasons.

During such phone calls, the CRA officer must validate your identity and therefore will ask for certain personal information, including your date of birth, your address, and in the case of a business some account specific details.

The CRA will not:

The CRA may:

·         ask for information about your passport, health card, or driver’s licence

·                  validate your identity by asking for certain personal information, including your full name, date of birth, your address and, in the case of a business, details about your account

·         request personal information by email

·         notify you by email when new mail is available for you to view in CRA secure portals such as My Account, My Business Account or Represent a Client

·         email you a link requesting you fill in an online form with personal or financial details

·email you a link to a CRA webpage, form, or publication in response to your telephone enquiry

·         send you a link to your refund by email or text message

·send you a notice of assessment or re-assessment by mail or notify you by email when it is available to view in My Account, My Business Account, or Represent a Client

·         setup an in-person meeting in a public place to take a payment

·ask for financial information such as the name of your bank and its location

·         demand immediate payment by prepaid credit card

·request payment for a tax debt through any of the CRA’s payment options

·         threaten with immediate arrest or prison sentence

·take legal action to recover the money you owe if you refuse to pay your debt

 

Before giving money or personal information:

  • verify the caller’s authenticity
    • You can note the caller’s name, phone number, and office location and tell them that you want to first validate their identity.
    • You can then verify that the employee works for the CRA or that the CRA did contact you by calling the CRA at 1-800-959-8281 for individuals or 1-800-959-5525 for business.
  • verify your tax status and make sure your address and email are up to date
    • You can confirm this information with the CRA either online through the CRA secure portals, or by calling the CRA at 1-800-959-8281 for individuals or 1-800-959-5525 for business.

When in doubt, ask yourself

  1. Did I file my tax return on time? Have I received a notice of assessment or re-assessment indicating a tax balance due?
  2. Have I received previous written communication from the CRA by email notification or mail about the subject of the call? Does the CRA have my most recent contact information, like my email and address?
  3. Is the requester asking for information I would not provide in my tax return or that is not related to my debt with the CRA?
  4. Did I recently submit a request to make changes to my business number information?
  5. Why is the caller pressuring me to act immediately? Am I confident the caller is a CRA employee?

CRA phone interactions generally come after written communications, such as an email notification to check your online mail or a letter, and are made under special circumstances. For example:

  • If you have a tax debt, a collections officer may call you to discuss your case and request a payment. In this case, you may need to provide some information about your household financial situation.
  • If you have not filed your income tax and benefit return, a CRA officer may contact you by telephone to ask you for the missing returns.
  • If the CRA has questions about your tax and benefit records, or documents you have submitted, a CRA officer may contact you by phone for further discussion.

To report scams

To report deceptive telemarketing, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online at www.antifraudcentre.ca or toll free at 1-888-495-8501. If you believe that you may be the victim of fraud or have given personal or financial information unwittingly, contact your local police service, financial institution, and credit reporting agencies.

 

 

Principle Residence Exemption

Did you sell your house in 2017?

Commencing with sales in the 2016 tax year, you must report basic information, such as the date of acquisition, the proceeds of disposition (the sale), and the address, on your income tax and benefit return when you sell your home to claim the full principal residence exemption.

You do not have to pay any tax on the capital gain when you sell your home provided it was your principal residence for all the years that you owned it and you did not use any part of it to earn income.

A property may qualify as your principal residence for any year that you or certain family members lived in the house, if none of you designated another property as a principal residence for that year.

File a tax return and claim the principal residence exemption for the capital gains.

Business Investment Loss – Denied

In a Tax Court of Canada case, a mother had guaranteed the business loans for her son’s corporation. Unfortunately, the corporation failed and subsequently the mother paid off the loans. The mother claimed business investment losses for the amounts repaid.

Her only motivation for the guarantee was to assist her son’s business. She did not charge a guarantee fee and thus there was no possibility of investment income.

The Tax Court disallowed the business investment losses for the mother because she did not make the loan guarantees to earn income. Solution – Charge an annual fee.

Claiming Automobile Expenses

One of the more common expenses claimed by taxpayers are automobile expenses (applies to any motor vehicle such as van, bus, pickup truck, station wagon, SUV or other truck). Many individuals use their automobile for work or business and incur personal expenses in doing so.

It is important to note that only expenses of a business nature are eligible as a deduction against their related income. As such, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has strict requirements in ensuring that only business-related expenses are claimed. As a result, the retention of automobile tax records becomes imperative for every taxpayer that uses an automobile for work or business.

Automobile allowance rates

The automobile allowance rates for 2016 and 2017 are:

  • 54¢ per kilometre for the first 5,000 kilometre driven; and
  • 48¢ per kilometre driven after that.

In the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut, there is an additional 4¢ per kilometre allowed for travel.

Nurse practitioners can now certify applications for the disability tax credit

Nurse practitioners can now certify applications for the disability tax credit

Nurse practitioners can now fill out and sign Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate making the application process  for the disability tax credit (DTC) easier and more accessible.

Through Budget 2017, the Government has made a change to recognize nurse practitioners as one of the medical practitioners who can certify Form T2201. With over 4,500 nurse practitioners across Canada who can certify patients for the DTC, this change is going to have a positive impact for Canadians living with a disability.

Individuals who want to apply for the DTC, but live in an area where nurse practitioners are the first point of contact, as for example, in Canada’s North, will benefit from this change.

What is the disability tax credit?

The disability tax credit is a non-refundable tax credit that helps persons with disabilities or their supporting family members reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay.
Applying for the credit is a three step process:

  1. Fill out Part A of Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate
  2. Have your nurse practitioner fill out Part B
  3. Send form T2201 to the CRA

Being eligible for the DTC can open the door to other federal, provincial, or territorial programs designed to support those with disabilities or their families. These include the registered disability savings plan, the working income tax benefit disability supplement, and the child disability benefit.

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Email: Padgett Calgary

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