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Justice John Owen of the Tax Court of Canada has rendered one of the most important and potentially far-reaching decisions in 33 years of GST.  While Fiera Foods Company v. The King, 2023 TCC 140 is about some other things, the Tax Court’s keen observations about GST “Information Requirements” is its most important part:  they require sufficient evidence to be obtained prior to claiming input tax credits (“ITCs”), but do not specify or require the “form” of that evidence.

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On September 14, 2023 the Prime Minister announced upcoming legislation to remove the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the construction of new apartment buildings. 

The announcement also called on the provinces participating in the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), or that impose their own provincial sales tax, to match the federal government’s rebate.  In a twitter post the Ontario Minister of Finance has already indicated they will “work closely with Ottawa to do the same when it comes to Ontario’s portion of the HST.”

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While the government of Canada appears focused on the political hot potato that is our residential housing industry, announcing new rules for rental houses are coming,  the CRA is headed in the other direction, apparently targeting residential home-owners that have recently sold their homes, on the basis that the degree to which they fixed them up prior to sale caused the homes to become “new homes” and subject to full GST/HST on their fair market value.

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In Ghermezian v. MNR, 2023 FCA 183, the Federal Court of Appeal may have put the last nail in the coffin for taxpayers trying to dispute the broad reach of the CRA’s audit powers.

CRA’s Use of 3rd Party Requests for Information

The case revolved around the CRA’s Related Party Initiative, and the CRA’s issuance of various requests and requirements for information under section 231.1 of the Income Tax Act (and parallel provisions in section 289 of the Excise Tax Act (alternatively, the “RFIs” and the “Demands”, and the “ITA” and “ETA”).

Tagged in: Audit CRA FCA RFI Taxpayer
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As we blogged about here, in late 2022, Newfoundland and Labrador introduced a tax on sugar sweetened beverages (the “SSBT”).  An often-overlooked aspect of Canadian indirect and excise taxes is the ability for certain taxes to compound, so that one pays a “tax on a tax”.  This issue is particularly pronounced when supplies are subject to both GST/HST and a provincial excise tax.

A recent issue of the CRA Excise and GST/HST News clarified that the GST/HST is calculated on the total value of consideration including the SSBT and serves as an example of why it is important to consider how taxes interact in practice.

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