A common theme of our direct selling blogs is that direct selling businesses should pay close attention to the wording of their key documents (compensation plans, contracts, and policies and procedures, etc.) to ensure that plan participants are properly characterized as independent contractors and not as employees.
While not in a direct selling context, a recent decision at the Tax Court of Canada serves as a cautionary tale for businesses that fail to examine the details of their documents – their workers may be characterized contrary to their intentions!
All taxpayers under audit should be aware of both the scope and limitations of Canada Revenue Agency’s audit powers, as well as the consequence of failing to respond to a CRA Auditor’s valid request for documents or information.
The Federal Cout decisions in Canada v. Money Stop Ltd. (2013 FC 133), and Canada v. Money Stop Ltd. (2013 FC 684) are poignant reminders that ignoring the demands of a CRA auditor may land the Director(s) of the Corporation in prison!
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”).