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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in GST HST

Given that financial services are exempt from GST/HST under Part VII of Schedule V of the Excise Tax Act, the “financial services” definition in section 123(1) is subject of regular litigation before the Tax Court. 

The definition is structured to delineate what constitutes a “financial service” in paragraphs 123(1)(a) to (m) and what a financial service “does not include” in paragraphs 123(1)(n) to (t)

In SLFI Group - Invesco Canada Ltd. (2017 TCC 78), the Tax Court of Canada recently had another opportunity to deal with these inclusions and exclusions in the financial services definition.  In doing so, the Tax Court applied an unexpectedly broad interpretation of the exclusion found in paragraph 123(1)(q), which deals with the supply of “management services”. 

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Most businesses will, at some point, have to deal with a situation where they have made advance payments for goods and services that never end up being provided.  The cause for this non-supply is often due to the fact that the supplier has become impecunious.  This results in obvious commercial headaches for the recipient, which can be exacerbated by corresponding GST implications. 

Typically in such situations, the recipient will pay GST to the supplier in respect of the advance payment and take a corresponding Input Tax Credit (“ITC”) in its next GST Return.  The supplier is required to remit that GST collected to the fisc.  Pursuant to subsections 232(1) and (3) of the ETA, where the supplier will not be making the supply (or, for other reasons, reduces the consideration owed for the supply), it can adjust, refund or credit the amount collected (including the GST collected), and issue a “credit note” to the recipient.  In turn, pursuant to paragraph 232(3)(b), the supplier can apply an adjustment in its next GST return to reduce its net tax by the GST amount in the credit note.  Correspondingly, pursuant to paragraph 232(3)(c) the recipient is required to apply an adjustment to increase its net tax by the same amount (to account for the portion of the ITC previously taken, but now credited). 

To the extent that the supplier is impecunious, the recipient will be left with a situation where it has had to increase its net tax, pursuant to a credit note received that will never actually be honoured.  This was exactly the situation in the TCC decision in North Shore Power Group Inc. (2017 TCC 1).

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The recent Tax Court decision in Persepolis Contracting (2017 TCC 89) is another example of how the concept of agency is so important in the GST context.  The case serves as a reminder that written documents will be central to the determination of whether an agency relationship exists, and suggests that it might be difficult to establish that written agreements constitute evidence of agency.

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Amendments to the ETA’s closely related test were announced in the 2016 budget and received Royal Assent December 15, 2016.  They came into force March 22, 2017.

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Posted by on in Tax Law

The CRA has a mandate to improve compliance of GST/HST registrants and to encourage GST/HST registrants to meet their filing requirements.  As part of its commitment to this mandate, the CRA will be implementing changes to its current processes.

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In The Great-West Life Assurance Company v The Queen (2016 FCA 316) [“Great-West Life”], the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the TCC’s decision that services related to processing claims for drug benefits were not financial services, and so not exempt from GST/HST.

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Section 165 of the ETA imposes GST in respect of supplies “made in Canada”.  The so-called “place of supply rules” in section 142 of the ETA serve to deem particular supplies to be made either inside or outside of Canada.  As a result of a legislative inconsistency these rules can conceivably deem a particular supply to be made both inside and outside of Canada.  This inconsistency was analyzed by the TCC in the recent decision of Club Intrawest (2016 TCC 149).  In doing so, the TCC arguably expanded the place of supply rules such that GST now applies to more supplies than even CRA had previously contemplated.

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For years, the CRA has consistently assessed taxpayers for GST/HST and interest in circumstances where although there was technical non-compliance with the rules, there was no true financial impact to the government. Examples of such situations (e.g. so called “wash transactions”) would include the wrong person collecting and remitting the GST/HST in a closely related group, or GST/HST not being collected in circumstances where the recipient would have been entitled to a full Input Tax Credit (“ITC”) in any event.

 

The practice of demanding interest for monies that the CRA already had in its possession, albeit received from another person, is viewed as patently unfair by many of the taxpayers so assessed. In the recent GST/HST case Gordon v AGC (2016 FC 643), the Federal Court put into issue the fairness of the CRA’s approach, and found that the CRA must consider waiving interest in these circumstances on a case by case basis.

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If your business ever provides a good or service in exchange for advertising, you should be aware of a recent CRA ruling (RITS 2015-158946), dated November 4, 2015), which sets out how GST/HST applies to barter transactions and includes an example of a person who exchanges advertising services for goods or services. Case law such as 9022-8891 Québec Inc. (2006 TCC 60)confirmed that a barter of goods or services for advertising may constitute two taxable transactions for GST/HST purposes. RITS 2015-158946, however, provides more details on the tax consequences of a barter exchange - consideration, place of supply, input tax credits, and zero-rating - and represents a blueprint for the GST/HST analysis of barter transactions.

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There has been significant jurisprudence on the extent to which recipients are entitled to ITCs in respect of GST paid to so called “rogue suppliers” – suppliers who collect but fail to remit GST to the fisc.  The CRA has often taken the position that where the recipient fails to make efforts to confirm the identity of its supplliers or where the recipient is wilfully blind to the bona fides of its suppliers, the recipient will not be entitled to ITCs. The recent decision of SNF LP (2016 TCC 12) adds another layer to this analysis.  Although the TCC makes a number of distinct findings, the most interesting aspect might be with respect to a briefly explained conclusion regarding a claim for a rebate of tax paid in error.

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Posted by on in Tax Law

New Brunswick is increasing its HST by 2%, effective July 1, 2016, resulting in an HST rate of 15%.

Businesses will need to consider which tax rate – the existing HST rate of 13% or the new HST rate of 15%, will apply to transactions that straddle July 1, 2016.

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Section 254 of the ETA allows the purchaser of a new residential unit to claim a partial GST/HST Rebate (often called a New Housing Rebate – “NHR”).  The NHR was intended to off-set GST/HST payable on new housing, back to the point where the GST/HST actually paid on the purchase of new housing equates, more-or-less, with the expected former federal sales tax (“FST”) component of comparable housing.  The NHR was designed to ensure that the GST did not pose a barrier to affordable housing. 

The NHR is only available where the builder makes a supply by sale to a person, which makes that person a “particular individual” for purposes of the NHR rules (s. 254(2)(a)). The particular individual (or their relation) generally must be first to occupy the new home as their primary residence (s. 254(2)(d)(i)).  Each buyers of a new home (i.e. each particular individual) must meet each NHR requirement (s. 262(3)).  Where new home ownership structures are slightly complicated, meeting these requirements can become tricky. 

This was the issue in Crooks v. The Queen (2016 TCC 52). 

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Businesses (other than financial institutions) that provide a mix of both taxable and exempt supplies must utilize the allocation rules found in section 141.01(5) of the Excise Tax Act (ETA) to determine the proper amount of input tax credits (ITCs) to claim in their GST/HST return.  This generally requires that the taxpayer employ a fair and reasonable method to determine the extent to which its inputs are each used in making taxable or exempt supplies.   

The TCC decision in BC Ferry Services (2014 TCC 305) provides a good overview of various aspects of the ITC allocation rules for non-financial institutions. 

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In Invesco Canada Ltd. v. The Queen (2014 TCC 375), CRA assessed the taxpayer for GST, arising out an arrangement designed to minimize income tax.  Specifically, at issue was a determination of the value of the consideration paid for the supply of management services provided to mutual fund trusts. 

Tagged in: GST HST
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Section 156 of the Excise Tax Act (the "ETA") provides GST/HST relief in the context of certain supplies between closely related corporations and partnerships, and is amongst the most important provisions in the GST/HST legislation. Recently enacted changes have created quite the buzz around this election, as among other things, it now needs to be filed with the CRA, and that filing needs to be done in early 2015 for it to be effective for 2015 supplies. Here are some helpful details.

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With the New Year approaching, GST/HST registrants should be aware of a number of GST/HST compliance requirements for 2015, the more notable of which include as follows.

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