Announcements

Get caught up with Andrews & Co.

Whether it’s tax season or welcoming new team members, we have a lot going on at our firm. We’ll keep you connected by sharing our ongoing news.

DIRECTOR LIABILITY: Properly Resigning

Directors can be personally liable for unremitted employee source deductions and GST/HST unless they exercise due diligence to prevent failure to remit these amounts on a timely basis. CRA cannot personally assess the director more than two years after the individual properly resigns as a...

Directors can be personally liable for unremitted employee source deductions and GST/HST unless they exercise due diligence to prevent failure to remit these amounts on a timely basis. CRA cannot personally assess the director more than two years after the individual properly resigns as a director.

In an August 11, 2021 Tax Court of Canada case, the Court reviewed whether the individual properly resigned as a director. CRA assessed the taxpayer as a director personally for $305,390 of unremitted source withholdings for the 2008 to 2014 years on the basis that he never properly resigned.

The taxpayer was appointed as a director in 1999 at the commencement of his employment as a programmer. In 2011, the taxpayer sent an email resigning his employment to the corporation’s owner, followed by a phone call. The taxpayer provided nothing in writing to the corporation (as a legal entity separate from its owner). The taxpayer asserted that as the assessment was issued in 2016, more than two years after he allegedly resigned as a director, the assessment should be vacated.

Taxpayer loses – resignation

In referencing the Ontario Corporations Business Act, the Court reiterated that the resignation of a director is effective at the time a written resignation is received by the corporation or at a time specified in the resignation. As no written resignation of his position as a director was sent by the taxpayer or received by the corporation, the Court ruled that the taxpayer had not resigned. In other words, as the taxpayer was both an employee and a director, resigning as an employee was not automatically a resignation as a director.

Taxpayer wins – CRA’s assessment

After reviewing testimony and various documents, the Court found that the underlying assessment was overstated. As the Court did not have evidence to reduce the assessment to the proper amount, the appeal was allowed in full.

While this was an Ontario case, similar rules regarding resigning as a director exist in other jurisdictions.

ACTION ITEM: If you intend to resign as a director, ensure that the resignation of yourself as a director is received by the corporation.

PROVIDING SUPPLIES TO YOUR CONTRACTORS: GST/HST Issues

In a July 29, 2021 Tax Court of Canada case, a trucking company (the taxpayer) engaged the services of a number of drivers as independent contractors (ICs). The taxpayer provided the vehicles along with a fuel card (that would cover all fueling costs). However, since...

In a July 29, 2021 Tax Court of Canada case, a trucking company (the taxpayer) engaged the services of a number of drivers as independent contractors (ICs). The taxpayer provided the vehicles along with a fuel card (that would cover all fueling costs). However, since the contract stipulated that the ICs were responsible for the fuel, payouts to the ICs were reduced by 76 cents/km for fuel. These were referred to as chargebacks. CRA had assessed the taxpayer with HST of 13% on all of the chargebacks (amounting to over $118,000 over a 30-month period), arguing that they were taxable supplies (in Ontario).

Taxpayer loses – no fuel was received

Since the taxpayer never physically received the fuel, the taxpayer argued that it never actually provided a supply (or resupply) to the ICs. However, the Court determined that the taxpayer was considered the original recipient because the taxpayer was liable for the payment of the fuel card debts. The taxpayer then would have been considered to immediately resupply the fuel to the ICs in exchange for chargebacks reconciled at the completion of the delivery.

Further, the Court determined that the taxpayer was not acting as an agent for the ICs since it was in the taxpayer’s best interest to ensure that fuel could always be purchased seamlessly (i.e. without the possibility of interrupting the delivery due to an IC’s financial difficulty), and the independent contractor agreement was clear that the parties were separate and not acting in an agency arrangement.

Taxpayer wins – place of supply

CRA had assessed on the basis that the resupply of fuel to the ICs occurred at the taxpayer’s office in Ontario, the place from which the payments were made and reconciled. However, the Court found that the supply was actually provided in the place where the fuel was purchased and inserted. Since 69% of the fueling costs related to expenditures outside of Canada, the Court found that the same percentage of total chargebacks was not taxable supplies. The GST/HST to be charged on resupply was reduced by this amount.

The Court also noted that some of the fuel costs were also likely incurred within Canada but outside of Ontario, meaning that the GST/HST charged in some cases would likely vary from the 13% assessed.

Audit triggered by inaccurate bookkeeping

The fuel and maintenance chargebacks had been originally incorrectly coded in the accounting records as payments for “rental” of the taxpayer’s trucks to the ICs. As trucks supplied in Ontario by rental likely would have been subject to a full 13% HST charge, one can understand where CRA’s position may have originated. The clarification occurred at the notice of objection phase. Had the chargebacks been correctly coded from the beginning, some of the problems and dispute costs may have been avoided.

ACTION ITEM: The details of supply agreements to contractors should be reviewed to determine if GST/HST should be charged. Also, if uncertain how to code an item for bookkeeping purposes, seek guidance from an accounting professional as incorrect treatment may trigger an audit.

SALARIES TO FAMILY MEMBERS: Amounts Paid Must be Traceable

Oftentimes, family members of the owner of a business will work for the business. However, these arrangements can be somewhat informal, and amounts paid may be denied as a business expense if the work performed and amounts paid to the worker are not properly documented. A...

Oftentimes, family members of the owner of a business will work for the business. However, these arrangements can be somewhat informal, and amounts paid may be denied as a business expense if the work performed and amounts paid to the worker are not properly documented.

A June 10, 2021 Court of Quebec case provides one such example of this issue. An individual (P) owned and operated a corporation (Pco) that provided trucking services. Pco deducted $46,000 over three years for amounts paid to P’s father-in-law and mother-in-law for filing and driving services. Pco also deducted approximately $11,000 over two years for payments to P’s spouse for filing services. P was assessed with income on all of these amounts.

The Court reviewed whether Pco actually paid the amounts to the family members.

Taxpayer loses

The taxpayer argued that, while P’s father-in-law and mother-in-law never cashed the cheques provided by Pco, these payments represented their contributions to household expenses. However, the Court found that the amounts were never paid.

All payments to P’s spouse were made to a joint bank account with P, but the payments did not specifically correspond with the amounts P’s spouse was allegedly paid for her services. P argued that funds from the joint account (reflecting her compensation) were used to pay off P’s spouse’s credit card bills. Again, the Court found that no payments were actually made to P’s spouse.

The Court noted that it believed P’s spouse did provide services and that the result would have been different if the bank statements had shown amounts paid directly to her for her services.

As no payments were determined to have been made to P’s spouse or his in-laws, no amounts were permitted to be deducted. Further, the Court determined that these assessments could be made outside the normal reassessment period and that the assessed gross negligence penalties were justified.

ACTION ITEM: Family members should be paid for work done for the business in the same manner as other non-family members.

ENHANCING THE VALUE OF OWNER-MANAGED BUSINESS: Starting the Transition Early

Many owner-managers are shocked at both the difficulties in finding a buyer for their business and the low prices an owner-managed business often commands. A recent Intelligent Work article (How Does 10x-ing Value Work in an Owner-Managed Business?, John Mill) discussed guidance provided to Harvard MBA...

Many owner-managers are shocked at both the difficulties in finding a buyer for their business and the low prices an owner-managed business often commands.

A recent Intelligent Work article (How Does 10x-ing Value Work in an Owner-Managed Business?, John Mill) discussed guidance provided to Harvard MBA students regarding investing in owner-managed businesses. That guidance included the reality that these businesses with earnings between $750,000 and $2 million tend to be priced at 3x to 5x earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), as compared to 6x to 12x earnings for larger companies with EBITDA of more than $5 million. In addition, most owner-managers are forced to sell due to age or health issues and such distress sales generally result in lower multiples.

Often, investors do not want to be owner-managers, and as such, will employ another individual to run the business. This further reduces the value of owner-dependent businesses.

Some strategies to grow the value by focusing on the qualities that command higher multiples include the following:

  • competent management that is not owner-dependent;
  • lean systems;
  • engaged employees; and
  • a solid track record of EBITDA growth.

The article suggested a 10-year track record of 18% EBITDA growth (an average for the successful expanding of small businesses) as an appropriate target.

ACTION ITEM: Starting the discussion on how to maintain and enhance the value of an owner-managed business should be commenced many years before the anticipated sale or transition.

TRAVEL ALLOWANCES: Limited Distance Covered

In a March 5, 2021 French Technical Interpretation, CRA commented on whether a travel allowance paid to employees on a per kilometre basis, but only up to a limited number of kilometres, could be a non-taxable allowance. For the allowance to be non-taxable, it must be...

In a March 5, 2021 French Technical Interpretation, CRA commented on whether a travel allowance paid to employees on a per kilometre basis, but only up to a limited number of kilometres, could be a non-taxable allowance.

For the allowance to be non-taxable, it must be a reasonable allowance for the use of a motor vehicle when travelling in the performance of employment duties. Further, measurement of the use of the vehicle must be based solely on kilometres, or the allowance will be deemed unreasonable and therefore taxable.

First, CRA opined that placing a cap on the number of kilometres covered would not mean that the measurement was not based solely on kilometres. As such, it would not automatically be unreasonable.

However, the allowance could still be unreasonable since it may not be high enough in relation to the total motor vehicle expenses that the employee is expected to incur in the performance of their employment duties. If considered unreasonable, the allowance would be taxable.

ACTION ITEM: Structure compensation for the employment use of an employee’s vehicle carefully to ensure that any allowance received will not be taxable to the employee. A taxable assessment after the fact can create significant employee/employer issues.

CANADA EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFIT (CERB): Repayments

Self-employed individuals whose net self-employment income was less than $5,000 will not be required to repay CERB, as long as their gross self-employment income was at least $5,000 (in 2019 or the previous 12 months preceding the application) and they met all other eligibility criteria. On...

Self-employed individuals whose net self-employment income was less than $5,000 will not be required to repay CERB, as long as their gross self-employment income was at least $5,000 (in 2019 or the previous 12 months preceding the application) and they met all other eligibility criteria.

On May 12, 2021, a remission order that would allow this relief was released. For the debt to be remitted, individuals will need to file their 2019 and 2020 tax returns before December 31, 2022. The explanatory notes also indicated that CRA estimates approximately 30,000 individuals will benefit from this remission order.

Individuals who have already repaid CERB due to their net income being less than $5,000 (but meeting all other eligibility criteria) will need to apply by completing Form T180 to get reimbursed for their repayment. Eligible applicants can expect reimbursements within about 90 days of submitting their applications. It is estimated that approximately 6,500 individuals could receive this type of reimbursement. CRA has also noted that, if a taxpayer is reimbursed for their CERB payment repaid in 2020, CRA may reassess their 2020 tax return.

ACTION ITEM: If you repaid CERB for the above reasons, make sure to apply to have the amount reimbursed.

TFSA: Excess Contributions

Individuals who contribute excess amounts into their TFSA are subject to a penalty tax of 1%/month on the excess amount for each month that the TFSA is overcontributed. However, CRA has the discretion to waive this penalty tax if the excess amount resulted from reasonable...

Individuals who contribute excess amounts into their TFSA are subject to a penalty tax of 1%/month on the excess amount for each month that the TFSA is overcontributed. However, CRA has the discretion to waive this penalty tax if the excess amount resulted from reasonable error and the excess contribution, plus any income or capital gains reasonably attributable to them, is withdrawn without delay.

CRA recently considered whether relief on this penalty tax could be provided where the value of the TFSA had reduced to nil. They opined that, as the excess contribution could not be withdrawn without delay, they would not have the discretion to waive the penalty tax. As such, the penalty tax would continue to apply until the individual accumulated enough additional TFSA room to cover the excess contribution.

ACTION ITEM: Under the facts above, CRA does not believe they have the discretion to waive the penalty tax on an excess TFSA contribution. Even where they have that discretion, they often refuse to waive the tax. Care should be afforded to ensure not to make excess TFSA contributions, and if an error is made, it should be corrected as soon as possible.

WILL AND BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS: Are they current?

RRSP designations A May 10, 2021 CBC article demonstrated the importance of reviewing RRSP beneficiary designations. The article discussed the unfortunate cascade of events where, in 2018, a 50-year-old individual went to the hospital for stomach pain and was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away three...

RRSP designations

A May 10, 2021 CBC article demonstrated the importance of reviewing RRSP beneficiary designations. The article discussed the unfortunate cascade of events where, in 2018, a 50-year-old individual went to the hospital for stomach pain and was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away three weeks later, leaving a spouse and a child. It appeared as if the deceased had not reviewed the designated beneficiary on his $685,000 RRSP, which remained his mother from the time when he had originally set it up while single. Not only did this mean that the surviving spouse and child would not receive these savings, but also that they were effectively liable for the tax on the RRSP funds. Although the will included a clause making the spouse the 100% beneficiary of the estate, this did not override the RRSP beneficiary designation.

While the spouse and mother were able to settle and cover the tax bill with the proceeds of a life insurance policy, the case serves as a good reminder to review whether insurance and registered account beneficiary designations match the current intent of the parties. 

Wills
In a March 16, 2021 Ontario Court of Appeal case, a dispute arose over the interpretation of a will regarding how proceeds from the sale of a cottage were to be distributed. As the deceased’s daughters held a life interest in the cottage, the cottage was not sold until more than 40 years after the original owner’s death. The proceeds from the sale of the cottage were to go to the grandchildren. However, within the 40-year period, one of the grandchildren passed away. At issue was whether the proceeds should be split among the four surviving grandchildren, or in five parts, with the deceased grandchild’s estate and beneficiaries receiving a fifth.

The court used the “armchair rule,” which seeks to interpret the will using the same knowledge that the testator had when making the will, and determined that it should be divided into four.

ACTION ITEM: Ensure to review wills and beneficiary designations when major life events or changes in the family occur. Death or critical illness/injury can arrive unexpectedly, limiting the possibility of estate planning updates that can compound the emotional strife of loved ones after an individual’s passing.

CRA OR SCAMMER: Who is it?

Most, if not all of us, have received a call from someone claiming to be from CRA. They may threaten arrest or other such actions if a tax bill is not immediately paid via iTunes or Bitcoin, for example. While some of these calls have...

Most, if not all of us, have received a call from someone claiming to be from CRA. They may threaten arrest or other such actions if a tax bill is not immediately paid via iTunes or Bitcoin, for example. While some of these calls have become easier to identify as fraudulent, scamming techniques and systems constantly evolve.

On May 26, 2021, CRA released a Tax Tip which discussed why a taxpayer might be contacted by CRA, when to be suspicious, and how to report potential scams.

Some signs indicating that the caller may be a scammer include:

  • they do not provide proof of CRA employment (such as a name and an office location);
  • they pressure you to act immediately;
  • they ask you to pay with gift cards, cryptocurrency or some other unusual manner;
  • they ask for information not normally included on your tax return or not related to amounts owed CRA, such as a credit card number; and
  • they recommend you apply for benefits and ask for related information.

To verify a caller is a CRA employee, CRA recommends that an individual:

  • tell the caller that they first want to verify their identity;
  • ask for, and note the caller’s name, phone number, and office location;
  • call the CRA phone number from the official CRA website to confirm that the call was legitimate; and
  • call the CRA employee back.

To report a scam, go to antifraudcentre.ca or call 1-888-495-8501.

ACTION ITEM: Follow these instructions if you suspect a call is from a fraudster or scammer. Give us a call if you are uncertain how to respond to a call from CRA, whether or not it sounds legitimate. 

 

 

COVID-19 MEDICAL EXPENSES: Tax Treatment

Medical expenses eligible for a personal tax credit are limited to those specifically provided for by the Income Tax Act. While an expense may clearly relate to an individual’s health, it may still not be an eligible medical expense. CRA recently provided comments on a number of medical...

Medical expenses eligible for a personal tax credit are limited to those specifically provided for by the Income Tax Act. While an expense may clearly relate to an individual’s health, it may still not be an eligible medical expense. CRA recently provided comments on a number of medical expenses related to COVID-19.

Face masks

In a February 25, 2021 Technical Interpretation, CRA opined that the costs of a non-medical mask, that is mostly used to protect others from the wearer, would not likely qualify as a medical expense. However, in the specific situation where a medical practitioner prescribes a medical face mask or respirator for a patient to cope with or overcome a severe chronic respiratory or immune condition, the mask or respirator would likely be an eligible medical expense.

COVID-19 vaccines and tests

In an April 22, 2021 Technical Interpretation, CRA opined that a COVID-19 vaccination received outside of Canada and a COVID-19 test (for example, those required for travel) must be prescribed by a medical practitioner to potentially be eligible as a medical expense. CRA also reiterated that they do not have the discretion to waive the prescription requirement.

Leasing costs of temporary accommodations

In a January 19, 2021 Technical Interpretation, CRA stated that the leasing cost of a second condominium to protect a family member’s health during the COVID-19 pandemic does not qualify as an eligible medical expense.

ACTION ITEM: Although expenses may relate to an individual’s health, they should still be reviewed to determine eligibility for the medical expense tax credit. Collect medical-related expenditures throughout the year such that at personal tax time, we can review whether an expense is eligible or not.

CRA COLLECTIONS: Potential Impact on Business

As some businesses struggle with cash flow, they may be motivated to prioritize suppliers and other creditors ahead of CRA. A recent court case demonstrates CRA’s power to collect tax arrears and the impact of CRA exercising this power on a business. In a June 11, 2021...

As some businesses struggle with cash flow, they may be motivated to prioritize suppliers and other creditors ahead of CRA. A recent court case demonstrates CRA’s power to collect tax arrears and the impact of CRA exercising this power on a business.

In a June 11, 2021 Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta case, the taxpayer had fallen into arrears in respect of both GST/HST and payroll remittances. Payment arrangements were entered into with CRA to assist in meeting the obligations. However, after failing to meet the agreed-upon terms, requirements to pay (RTPs) were issued to several of the taxpayer’s clients.

RTPs are legal documents that require recipients (the taxpayer’s clients in this case) to submit payment to CRA rather than the taxpayer. The RTP gives priority to CRA over most other creditors.

After the taxpayer had renegotiated a new payment plan, all RTPs were cancelled except for the one to its largest client. After struggling to meet the new payment plan and facing a new withholding liability, CRA once again issued RTPs. Shortly after, the taxpayer lost its largest client (the one that the sole RTP had been issued to previously).

The taxpayer advised CRA that it was considering receivership, which led to the seizure of assets and issuance of more RTPs. One client sent a letter to the taxpayer that noted that CRA had visited them personally to serve the RTP and implied that the taxpayer could be out of business or shut down. Further, the client noted that they were asked by CRA whether they could get their parts from alternate suppliers, and the client indicated that they were now considering doing so.

Taxpayer loses

The court found that CRA and its agents did not owe a duty of care to the taxpayer, that there was no negligence, and that the government’s actions did not unlawfully interfere with the economic relations of the taxpayer.

ACTION ITEM: CRA can collect your tax liability by requiring your clients to pay them rather than you. To limit the business and operational issues arising from an RTP, steps should be taken proactively to communicate with CRA collections. 

CANADA EMERGENCY RENT SUBSIDY (CERS): More Clarification

CERS provides support to businesses by covering a portion of rent and property ownership costs of qualifying property. The government has recently extended access to this program until October 23, 2021. The CERS program has the following two components: the base CERS which subsidizes eligible expenses...

CERS provides support to businesses by covering a portion of rent and property ownership costs of qualifying property. The government has recently extended access to this program until October 23, 2021.

The CERS program has the following two components:

  • the base CERS which subsidizes eligible expenses based on the applicant’s revenue decline compared to pre-pandemic earnings; and,
  • the lockdown support component, which provides an additional subsidy for eligible applicants subject to a lockdown under a public health order (due to COVID-19) that must shut their doors or significantly restrict their activities (25% of the revenue derived from the property from the prior period must have been earned from “restricted activities”).

CRA has recently provided several comments on these subsidies.

Eligible property

Property with a personal living space

A self-contained domestic establishment (“SCDE,” typically a living unit with restricted access that contains a kitchen, bathroom and sleeping facilities) used by the applicant (or by a person not dealing at arm’s length with the applicant) is not a qualifying property and therefore not eligiblefor CERS.

However, in a May 17, 2021 Technical Interpretation, CRA opined that property could still be eligible for CERS even if a portion of it were an SCDE. CRA provided the example where an individual owned a single-story building, with a store in the front of the building and a separated apartment in the back. The separated apartment had its own entrance, bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, and living room. The portion of the building used for the store could be a qualifying property, and therefore eligible for CERS.

Hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast

Property primarily used to earn rental income from arm’s length persons is not eligible for CERS.

In a July 16, 2021 Technical Interpretation, CRA considered whether a hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast was earning rental income for this purpose. While it is a question of fact, CRA opined that a hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast that provides significant additional services that are integral to the success of its ordinary activities, in addition to basic services that are customarily supplied with real estate rentals, would be considered to be earning income from those services, and not earning rental income. Therefore, these venues may be eligible for CERS.

CRA applied the same test they historically use to assess whether such businesses generate active business income eligible for the small business deduction.

Lockdown support – changes to a business model

In two June 7, 2021 Technical Interpretations, CRA provided clarification on what constituted restricted activities, allowing, in some cases, more entities to access the additional lockdown support component of CERS. CRA provided examples of specific businesses, with an overall theme that, even if a business could continue, changes in how the business is conducted could allow access to lockdown support. These comments focus on instances where in-person visits are replaced with remote or other types of less traditional visits.

Travel agencies

CRA opined that, where in-person visits were previously used to book travel arrangements and a public health order prevented the in-person visits, these activities would be considered restricted. Working from home and making bookings over the phone may be considered a different activitythan the restricted in-person visits. Where all activities were performed in person at the travel agency previously, CRA opined that the 25% test to access the additional lockdown support may be met.

Stores in a mall

Some stores located in malls were required to close for in-person shopping but could deliver goods via curbside pick-up or delivery to a designated area of the mall.

CRA noted that the activity of in-person shopping would have been restricted in respect of the stores. As such, even though the goods could be collected outside the store, in-person shopping could still be considered a restricted activity.

Food court restaurants

Where sit-down dining was no longer available because a food court was closed due to a public health order, CRA opined that the activity could also be considered a restricted activity. Providing take-out food would not preclude the restaurant from having a restricted activity.

ACTION ITEM: Business traditionally conducted in person may have required changes (e.g. services provided virtually; curbside pick-up; delivery) during a lockdown.  These changes may permit access to the lockdown subsidy, even though business continued in some form.

GUARANTEED INCOME SUPPLEMENT: More People Are Now Eligible

As many individuals had lower income in the 2020 year, some may be surprised that they are eligible to receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). In addition, changes in July 2020 allow individuals to earn more without eroding benefits. For those who have been eligible...

As many individuals had lower income in the 2020 year, some may be surprised that they are eligible to receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). In addition, changes in July 2020 allow individuals to earn more without eroding benefits. For those who have been eligible for some time, GIS (and OAS) can be applied for retroactively (up to eleven months back).

Individuals over the age of 65, living in Canada, receiving OAS and having income not exceeding certain thresholds, will qualify for GIS. A single, widowed or divorced individual must have income below $18,648. The combined income of a married or common-law couple cannot exceed the following:

  • $24,624 if the spouse/common-law partner receives the full OAS pension;
  • $44,688 if the spouse/common-law partner does not receive an OAS pension; and
  • $44,688 if the spouse/common-law partner receives the Allowance. 

Income for this purpose is generally net income on the personal tax return (line 23600) with the most notable difference being the exclusion of OAS, GIS and related payments. CPP and EI premiums can also be deducted against income. In addition, effective July 2020, up to $5,000 of employment and self-employment income annually is exempted. For those earning between $5,000 and $15,000, 50% of income earned in this bracket is also exempted.

Payments from July to June are based on the previous year’s income. So, the 2020 personal tax return will impact benefits from July 2021 to June 2022.

Also, note that individuals outside Canada for more than six months cannot collect GIS. Service Canada and the Canada Border Services share information.

ACTION ITEM: Review whether you or a relative may be eligible for GIS as soon as possible. Retroactive applications can only be made for the previous 11 months.

TAXPAYER RELIEF: Financial Hardship

In a January 14, 2021 Federal Court case, the taxpayer sought a judicial review of CRA’s denial to provide interest and penalty relief on a tax debt of nearly $400,000. The taxpayer argued that relief should be granted due to financial hardship and inability to...

In a January 14, 2021 Federal Court case, the taxpayer sought a judicial review of CRA’s denial to provide interest and penalty relief on a tax debt of nearly $400,000. The taxpayer argued that relief should be granted due to financial hardship and inability to pay. While the taxpayer provided information demonstrating that monthly expenses and income resulted in a deficit, the taxpayer’s own statements referring to his assets suggested that there was more to his financial situation.

 Taxpayer loses

The Court supported CRA’s view that assets and liabilities, not just income and expenses, were relevant to the question of financial hardship, and information requested on his assets had not been provided.

The Court ruled that, as it appeared that the taxpayer could pay the debt arrears by selling assets, it was not unreasonable for CRA to deny relief. The Court also stated that financial hardship is “the prolonged inability to afford basic necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter and reasonable non-essentials” reiterating the high bar to demonstrate financial hardship.

ACTION ITEM: Be aware that interest relief requested on the basis of financial hardship is very difficult to obtain.

COVID-19 BENEFITS FOR INDIVIDUALS: Period Extensions

The eligibility periods for several personal income replacement COVID-19 benefits have been extended: the previous limit of 26 weeks for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) and Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit (CRCB) will be extended by 12 weeks to 38 weeks; the previous limit of two...

The eligibility periods for several personal income replacement COVID-19 benefits have been extended:

  • the previous limit of 26 weeks for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) and Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit (CRCB) will be extended by 12 weeks to 38 weeks;
  • the previous limit of two weeks for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) will be extended to four weeks; and
  • the normal limit of 26 weeks for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits will be extended by 24 weeks to 50 weeks.

In the absence of these extensions, individuals who transitioned to CRB or EI on September 27, 2020 could have reached the maximum claim period as early as March 27, 2021.

In addition, self-employed workers who have opted in to the EI program to access special benefits will be able to use a 2020 earnings threshold of $5,000 compared to the previous threshold of $7,555. This change will be retroactive to claims as of January 3, 2021 and will apply until September 25, 2021.

ACTION ITEM: More weeks of COVID-19 income support are now available. Make sure to file your 2020 personal tax returns to reduce the chance of interruptions in benefit receipt.