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The Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) has been rigorously challenging intermediaries in the financial services industry, categorizing their services as taxable promotional, advertisement or taxable administrative services (as opposed to treating them as GST/HST exempt financial services).

While this aggressive approach seems (at first blush) consistent with the definition of a “financial service” under 123(1) of the Excise Tax Act (“ETA”) (which exempts the “arranging for” processing of credit and debit card payments, while excluding from exemption “promotional or advertising services”), many have suggested that contrary:   that CRA was trying to pigeon-hole what these service providers do in order to find “taxable” services.

In the recent Zomaron Inc. v. The Queen case (“Zomaron”), the Tax Court of Canada (“TCC”) found against CRA, and concluded that the dominant element of the services being provided were “exempt” in nature, and that the promotional, advertisement or administrative elements of the services did not serve to disqualify from GST/HST exemption.

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In a prior Blog on the “Time Bomb Ticking on Canadian Home Construction Industry” we discussed the problems facing Canadians who make money buying, fixing up, and reselling their alleged “principal residences”.

We said then: “An individual buying a run-down house, fixing it up, and living in it a while, and then selling for a tidy income tax exempt profit (the house being the individual’s principal residence) sounds like a recipe for success. [But repeat] that 21 times in a row, and you may have a different kettle of fish!”

Apparently, all you have to do is “repeat 2 times in a row” to be liable for income taxes on our profits, and uncollected GST/HST on your sales revenue!

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The Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) has broad audit powers, allowing it to request any documents, records, and information from taxpayers and third parties under audit. The 2021 Federal Budget proposed an expansion (!) to these powers – allowing CRA to compel interview and answers from an owner-manager and any other employees of the business. The changes are aimed at making it easier for the CRA to get information and issue assessments, but those in the know predict real problems for unrepresented taxpayers and their employees! The worry is that CRA will have a single mindset heading into these interviews and will use them to simply gain ammunition for an Assessment.

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In Budget 2021 the government of Canada proposed changes to the ITC Information Requirements which will generally make it easier for businesses to claim ITCs in two ways:

  1. increasing the dollar thresholds of the ITC Information Requirements; and
  2. expanding the definition of "intermediary" to include billing agents, such that a recipient can obtain the name and/or GST registration number of a billing agent rather than the underlying vendor in order to support an ITC claim.

Some details of these proposals, which are effective starting April 21, 2021, are set out below.

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Per our previous blog, the Government of Canada’s Fall Economic Update has announced new rules which will change the GST/HST registration and collection regime for short-term rental accommodation platforms (like AirBnb) and the underlying persons offering the accommodations to ensure GST/HST is properly collected on these supplies.  This article gives a high-level overview of the proposed changes—which will be especially important to anyone who rents out their property on these platforms!

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