Beware of tax myths

Canadians and their tax advisers sometimes disagree with the CRA about the meaning of tax laws. These disagreements are normal and can be resolved.

However, over the past few years certain groups have begun publicizing incorrect and misleading advice about tax laws and the legal obligation to pay taxes.

People who accept such incorrect advice and fail to comply with the law could expose themselves to serious financial and legal problems. For more information, see Debunking tax myths.

The CRA and the Department of Finance Canada

When you’re searching government Web sites for tax-related information, your search will be easier if you’re aware of the different roles played by the CRA and by the Department of Finance Canada.

The CRA administers tax laws, but we don’t make or develop fiscal policies or tax laws.

  • As a rule, the CRA Web site is where you’ll find information about what the current tax laws say and how they’re interpreted and applied.

The Department of Finance Canada is responsible for federal tax policy and legislation. The Minister of Finance and Parliament decide on tax amounts and how to calculate them.

  • As a rule, the Department of Finance Canada Web site is where you’ll find information about proposed changes to tax laws, proposed tax cuts or increases, studies about the effects of taxation, and possible future tax policies. You may want to consult that department’s news releases and speeches.
  • Details of legislation proposed or enacted during the current session of Parliament are available on the Parliamentary Web site.

Tax legislation is also developed by individual provinces and territories (Provincial and Territorial Governments page, Canada Site).

You may also wish to consult the Government of Canada Newsroom and the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development News Room.

Due Dates for Corporate Returns & Taxes

A corporation that is resident in Canada, carried on a business in Canada, has a taxable capital gain, or sold taxable Canadian property is required to file a T2 income tax return even if no tax is payable.

Knowing when the return is due, and more importantly when the tax is payable is important to avoid costly interest and penalties.

Be aware that the due date for filing is different than the day the corporation must pay it’s outstanding tax bill.

Corporate Filing Due Date

The due date to file your corporate income tax return is six (6) months following your corporation’s year end.

For example, if you have a

  • December 31st year-end –> Return is due June 30th.
  • March 31st year-end –> Return is due September 30th.

When Corporate Taxes Must be Paid

Existing corporations are required to pay tax by installments throughout the year if their income tax bill is more than $3,000. New corporations are exempt from the installment requirements in their first year.

If you have a new corporation, or if you will have a balance owing, knowing your due date will help ensure you avoid costly penalties.

Due Date for CCPC

The due date for a Canadian controlled private corporation, claiming the small business deduction and whose taxable income is less than $500,000, is three months following the corporations’ year-end.

  • December 31st year-end –> Balance is payable by March 31st.
  • June 30th year-end –> Balance is payable September 30th.

For all other corporations, the due date is two months following their year-end.

Penalties

The penalty for remitting taxes late is 5% of the unpaid amount and 1% per month on any past due amounts.

A tax bill of $10,000 can result in a penalty of $500 if remitted late.

When To Meet With Your Accountant

It’s important to plan filing your corporate tax return before the end of the corporation’s fiscal year.

If you have a fiscal year-end that does not fall on December 31, you should meet with your accountant around December 31st to ensure that your annual tax slips are prepared and filed on time.

Our Services

If you’re looking for help filing your corporate tax returns and related tax-slips, please give us a call at 905-858-0775 to get started. We can help you reduce the amount of tax you will pay by taking full advantage of the corporate structure.

Questions and answers – Answers to common questions about donating to a charity in Canada.

1. What is a registered charity?
A registered charity is a charitable organization, public foundation, or private foundation that was established in Canada and is resident in Canada. It is operated exclusively for charitable purposes (i.e., the relief of poverty, the advancement of education, the advancement of religion, or other purposes that benefit the community in a way the courts have said are charitable) and must devote its resources to charitable activities. A registered charity has received a registration number from the Canada Revenue Agency and is exempt from paying tax on its revenue. It can issue official donation receipts for income tax purposes for gifts that it receives.

2. How do I verify if a charity is registered?
Ask the charity for its registration number, and confirm its status by consulting the CRA Charities Listings, or by calling the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-267-2384.

3. What is the main difference between a non-profit organization and a registered charity?
Registered charities must fit into one of four categories of charitable purposes: the relief of poverty, the advancement of education, the advancement of religion, or other purposes that benefit the community in a way the courts have said are charitable. Non-profit organizations may not fit into one of the four categories of charitable purposes but may have purposes such as social welfare, civic improvement, pleasure, or recreation. Non-profit organizations cannot issue official donation receipts for gifts that they receive.

4. Can a registered charity lend its registration number to another registered or non-registered charity?
No. Under no circumstances should a registered charity lend its registration number to another organization for receipting purposes. A charity that lends its registration number risks losing its charitable registration. A donor who accepts a falsified official donation receipt will risk having the tax credit disallowed and may be subject to fines.

5. Is a charity required to issue an official donation receipt?
No. However, the Canada Revenue Agency advises charities to notify potential donors of any circumstances in which they will not issue an official donation receipt. Donors cannot claim a charitable tax credit or deduction unless they have an official donation receipt.

6. To whom must an official donation receipt be addressed?
Generally, the official donation receipt can only be issued to the true donor of the gift to a charity. If a donation is made by a cheque in both spousal names, an official donation receipt can be issued in either name. If a corporation sends a donation to a charity, the official donation receipt can be made to the corporation owner only if he has sent a personal cheque. If the corporation is donating money that has been collected from its employees, and there is a written declaration to prove this, the charity can issue the official donation receipt in each donor’s name.

7. How can I replace a lost official donation receipt?
If you lose your official donation receipt, you can ask the charity to issue a replacement. You should receive a replacement receipt which contains all the required information plus a note to the effect that it “cancels and replaces receipt No. (the serial number of the lost receipt is inserted here)

8. If the charitable status of a charity to which I have recently made a donation has been revoked, can I still claim my tax credit?
If the organization was registered during the time of your donation, and if your receipts genuinely reflect the amount you gave, you can still claim your tax credit. Please note that when a charity is revoked, the organization may donate its assets to another eligible donee; otherwise, the assets are collected as tax.

9. What if I get something in return for my donation?
When a registered charity provides you with something of value in return for making a donation, the eligible amount of your donation for income tax purposes is generally reduced. This amount will be reflected on your official donation receipt. For example: You donate $1,000 to the Anytown Ballet Company, which is a registered charity. In gratitude, the company provides you with three ballet tickets worth $50 each, for a total value of $150. These tickets are considered an advantage of $150. The eligible amount of your donation for calculating your tax credit is therefore $850 ($1,000 – $150).

10. Can a charity return a donation?
In most cases, a registered charity cannot return a donor’s gift. At law, a gift transfers ownership of the money or other gifted property from the donor to the charity. Once the transfer is made, the charity is obliged to use the gift in carrying out its charitable purposes. On occasion, though, a charity may be obliged by law to return gifts to donors. This can happen, for instance, when a charity asks the public to contribute to a special project and later events make it impossible to carry out the project.

11. Do I have to claim donations the same year that I make them?
No. You can carry forward any donations you do not claim in the current year and claim them on your return for any of the next five years, but you can only claim donations once. You have to claim tax credits for gifts you carried forward from a previous year before you claim tax credits for gifts in the current year. If you are claiming a carryforward, attach a note to your return indicating the year of the return in which you submitted the official donation receipt, the portion of the eligible amount you are claiming this year, and the amount you are carrying forward.

12. What is the current tax credit rate for donations?
See Charitable donation tax credit rates.

13. I’ve been invited to participate in a donation program that will make me a profit. Is it safe to participate?
There are serious risks associated with this type of program – See What are donation schemes and why should I avoid them? to learn more.

14. How do I report charity fraud?
Report fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre by calling 1-888-495-8501. You can also call the CRA’s toll free numbers in Canada: 1-800-267-2384 (English) or 1-888-892-5667 (bilingual).

15. Is it safe to donate online?
Any charity that solicits donations online should be responsible for protecting your information. Read the charity’s privacy policy before making a donation online. Only give donations through secure Web pages. If you are unsure about donating online, contact the charity and ask them for other ways to donate.

Average income tax refund for 2011 is up $70

Ottawa, Ontario, June 29, 2012… The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced today that the average refund for the 2011 tax-filing season is more than $1,580—an increase of about $70 per person since last year.

Many Canadians are receiving their refunds in as little as seven days by switching to electronic filing. Among the 25.4 million returns received as of June 14, 16.8 million were filed using electronic services, which is up from 16.1 million at the same time last year. Paper filing continues to decrease in popularity. So far this year, 8.6 million paper returns have been filed compared to the 8.8 million that were filed last year. The CRA’s electronic services are the quickest way for Canadians to file, and these services are easy and secure to use. Those who sign up for direct deposit through the CRA’s online services are able to receive their refunds even faster.

Tax filers are discovering the benefits of using the CRA’s electronic services year-round and not just during tax-filing season. Using electronic services, such as My Account and Quick Access, allows you to track your refund, view your benefit and credit payments and your registered retirement savings plan information, set up direct deposit, and much more. For more information on electronic services, go to www.cra.gc.ca/electronicservices.

This year, new tax credits such as the volunteer firefighters’ tax credit and the children’s arts tax credit helped Canadians reduce their taxes. Volunteer firefighters were able to claim up to $3,000 on their tax return and parents were able to claim up to $500 for enrolling their children in prescribed programs. Other credits such as the public transit tax credit and pension income splitting continue to help Canadians keep more money in their pockets.

The CRA takes this opportunity to thank Canadians who filed their income tax and benefit return on time. If you missed the April 30 filing deadline, it is in your best interest to file as soon as possible to receive benefit payments such as the GST/HST credit or the Canada child tax benefit and to avoid paying more penalties and interest charges.

Taxpayer relief measures available to Canadians affected by natural disasters

The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of National Revenue, today highlighted that Canadians who have been affected by devastating weather conditions can apply for relief from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) if they are having difficulty meeting their tax obligations because of extreme weather events.

“Our Government understands that severe weather events can prevent Canadians from meeting their tax obligations. Recently, Canadians from several regions, including British Columbia, the Yukon, and Saskatchewan, have had to rebuild because of events such as flooding and severe wind,” said Minister Shea. “The taxpayer relief provisions ensure that all Canadians receive fair tax treatment, while they are recovering from the damage resulting from natural catastrophes.”

All Canadians have access to the CRA’s taxpayer relief measures and will be considered for relief if they miss a payment or filing deadline because their lives were disrupted by uncontrollable weather events, including forest fires caused by lightning strikes, tornadoes, flooding, landslides and hurricanes.

The taxpayer relief provisions use a balanced approach to help taxpayers to resolve tax issues that arise through no fault of their own. Under these provisions, any taxpayer can apply to the CRA to have interest and/or penalties waived or cancelled in situations where they are unable to file a tax return and/or make a payment on time due to a natural disaster or other extraordinary circumstances beyond their control.. The CRA will consider these requests on a case-by-case basis.