Posts Tagged ‘income tax’

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.

Gov’t of Canada targeting retail workers with employee discount tax

A spokesperson for Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier confirmed that her office is reviewing the proposal, which appears in the latest version of the tax folio from the Canada Revenue Agency.

The proposal is to tax employee discounts as income based on the amount of money saved. Under the proposed change, employee discounts would be counted as income, and the value of that discount would need to be taxed at “equal to the fair market value of the merchandise purchased, less the amount paid by the employee.” Exceptions would only be made on discounts that are afforded to some members of the public at some point during the year.

The latest version of the Canada Revenue Agency’s tax folio advises employers that “when an employee receives a discount on merchandise because of their employment, the value of the discount is generally included in the employee’s income,” with the value of the discount assessed at “equal to the fair market value of the merchandise purchased, less the amount paid by the employee,” unless the discount is “available to the public or a segment of the public, at some point during the year.”

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre issued a statement Monday saying the change means the government plans to tax things like a 10 per cent shoe discount offered to shoe salesmen, a meal discount offered to a waitress or a free gym membership given to a fitness trainer.

Before the change, which some expect to come into effect Jan. 1, employers were advised to tax employee discounts only if the employee was purchasing the merchandise below the employer’s cost.

Not only would the change “target those who can least afford to pay more,” according to Poilievre, but it means local business owners will have the headache of needing to “track all of these discounts.”

Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier said in a written statement that the CRA’s goal is “to ensure that the agency does not impose additional administrative burdens on businesses.”

With a report from CTV’s Kevin Gallagher

ctvnews.ca/politics

CRA Project – Third-Party Information Request to disclose Canadian Square sellers

CRA requested Square (service that allows you to accept  payments, using a reader that plugs into your iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad) to disclose information about Canadian Square sellers who processed greater than CAD$20,000 on Square during any of the calendar years 2012, 2013, 2014 or 2015; or during the period of January 1, 2016 to April 30, 2016.

Square will share with the CRA the following information associated with the Square account:

 The name(s) and address(es) associated with the seller’s Square account
The associated financial institution(s) name, transit number and account number
The number of Square Readers and Stands linked to the account
The total monthly aggregate of transactional information between the seller and their customers
The number of employee permissions granted through employee / location management functionality
Square encourages affected sellers to verify their tax statements with the amounts indicated on their Square Dashboard to ensure they have accurately reported their commerce activities.

Should You Sell Your Dog Stocks?

The topic on Tax Loss Selling is very timely and every year around this time, people get busy with holiday shopping and forget to sell the “dogs” in their portfolio and as a consequence, they pay unnecessary income tax on their capital gains in April.

Most investment advisors are pretty good at contacting their clients to discuss possible tax loss selling. Ensure you are in contact to discuss your realized capital gain/loss situation and other planning options.

You may wish to set aside some time this weekend or next, to review your 2016 capital gain/loss situation. You can then execute your trades on a timely basis knowing you have considered all the variables associated with your tax gain/loss selling. As the markets have been strong this year, you hopefully will have only a few stocks with unrealized capital losses you can sell to use the losses against capital gains reported the last 3 years. Alternatively, you may want to trigger a capital loss to utilize against capital gains you have already realized in 2016.

You should be very careful if you plan to repurchase the stocks you sell. Always be cognizant of the superficial loss rules. Essentially, if you or your spouse (either directly or through an RRSP) purchase an identical share 30 calendar days before or 30 days after a sale of shares, the capital loss is denied and added to the cost base of the new shares acquired. 

This information was taken from an article posted by Mark Goodfield on his blog The Blunt Bean Counter. Visit    http://www.thebluntbeancounter.com/2016/11/tax-loss-selling-or-for-2016-tax-gain.html  for the complete article on this topic. 

What are the pensionable earnings for CPP in 2014?

CPP Pensionable Earnings Rise for 2014

The maximum pensionable earnings under the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) for 2014 will increase to $52,500 in 2014, which is an increase from $51,100 in 2013, while the basic exemption remains at the current $3,500 level.

 

While employee contribution rates remain unchanged at 4.95% and the self‑employed contribution rate will remain unchanged at 9.9%, maximum contributions will still rise for everyone.

The maximum employer and employee contributions are $2,425.50 each and the maximum self-employed contribution will be $4,851.00. The maximums in 2013 were $2,356.20 and $4,712.40.

What changes come with the revised T1135?

The Revised T1135 – This Could Get Ugly for Taxpayers, Investment Advisors & Accountants

 

The T1135


To provide some symmetry to my return to blogging, I start off where I left off. You may recall that my last blog discussed the revised T1135 Foreign Income Verification Form (“T1135”). In that post I discussed the new reporting requirements, which now includes the following:

  • The name of the specific foreign bank/financial institution holding funds outside Canada
  • For each foreign property identified on the T1135, the maximum funds/cost amount for the property during the year and cost amount at the end of the year (the old form only required the cost amount at the end of the year if at anytime in the year you exceeded the threshold)
  • For each foreign property identified on the T1135, the income and capital gain/loss generated (the old form asked for total income or gains from all foreign property in one lump sum)
  • Specific country where each foreign property is located (the old form had pre-defined groupings based on each continent for all the property on an aggregate basis) 

 

The T3/T5 Exclusion


I concluded my July 2nd post by saying that “There is one important saving grace to these rules. If the income for a foreign property is reported on a T3 or T5, the details do not have to be reported. This will exempt most U.S. or foreign stocks held with Canadian brokerages; but the details for property held outside Canadian institutions will be burdensome”.

While the above statement is essentially correct, the CRA’s administrative position in regard to this exemption may prove problematic. You see, the CRA is saying that even where you hold a foreign stock or bond in an account with a Canadian brokerage firm that issues a T3 or T5 for that account; if that security does not pay income in the form of a dividend or interest and thus is not reported on the T3 or T5, the specific stock or bond will not be excluded and will have to be reported in detail on the T1135. This position was recently confirmed by a CRA representative to one of my tax managers.

 

In addition, it must be noted you will still be required to file the T1135 if the total cost amount of your foreign holdings exceeds $100,000 at anytime during the year, even if dividends or interest is reported on a T3 or T5. See the example discussed in this article by Jamie Golembek, where the CRA representative states you would still need to file the form and check the reporting exclusion box for the stocks reported on a T-slip.

The Tax to English Version

 

So what does this all mean in English? Say you own 25 foreign stocks held at a Canadian brokerage that have a total cost of $150,000, but five of those stocks do not pay dividends or fail to pay a dividend in that year. As we now understand the CRA’s position, even though the 20 dividend paying stocks do not need to be individually listed, the 5 non-dividend paying stocks must be reported. Thus, you will need to tick the box on the T1135 Form to claim the exclusion for the 20 stocks, but you will also have to determine the highest cost amount of each of the five non-excluded stocks during the year (troublesome if you bought and sold) and the cost amount at the end of the year in addition to providing other information such as country location and capital gain or loss.

In the example above, if all 25 stocks pay dividends that will be reported on a T3 or T5, you will still have to file the T1135 and check the exclusion box; however, you do not need to report all the details of each individual stock. Clear as mud.

For people with only a few foreign holdings, this is not much of an issue. However, I have clients who are in private client programs with the large Canadian financial institutions that own 20-50 shares of multiple foreign stocks or have private managers running their money who have upwards of 50 U.S. and foreign stock/bond holdings. This means that the client, the advisor, or their accountant, or probably a combination of all three must review all these stocks to determine which ones are exempt from reporting because they paid a dividend or interest that was reported on a T3 or T5 from those that did not have any income reported on a T3 or T5.

My tax manager said the CRA representative he spoke with, gave him the impression that the CRA’s position has not gone over very well. Let’s hope the CRA simplifies life for many Canadians and just exempts any foreign security held at any Canadian Institution whether income is reported on a T-slip or not.

 

This article is posted on The Blunt Bean Counter website.  It provides information of a general nature and should not be considered specific advice, as each reader’s personal financial situation is unique and fact specific. Please contact a professional advisor prior to implementing or acting upon any of the information contained in one of the article.

Are you aware of the revised T1198 statement?

CRA has just issued a revision to Form T1198 Statement of Qualifying Retroactive Lump-Sum Payments, which is completed by the payer of qualifying amounts.  

 

Taxpayers who are in receipt of a lump sum of $3000 or more that relates to one or more prior years may qualify for this averaging provision, a calculation which CRA does for you when the form is attached to your return. 

Qualifying income amounts include income from office or employment if received as a result of an order or judgment, arbitration, or damages for loss of office or employment received in a lawsuit settlement. 

In addition, lump sum benefits from employment insurance, superannuation or pension plans other than lump-sum withdrawals, lump sums received for spousal or taxable child support payments, or benefits from a wage-loss replacement plan may all qualify. 

Not included, however, are salary reimbursements, top-ups of disability payments, repayments of pension benefits, or negotiated back pay. Tax advisors who are up to date with the latest rules can provide guidance.

This article was written by Evelyn Jacks.  Evelyn Jacks is president of Knowledge Bureau, whose curriculum includes wealth-management and income tax-preparation courses. You can also offer Knowledge Bureau financial education books to your clients or family members. Visit http://www.knowledgebureau.com/ for more information regarding The Knowledge Bureau

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