Yes folks, they are at it again! We routinely blog about CRA and the different groups that they target. This year alone CRA targets include condo flippers, those who operate POS (point of sale) terminals in their establishments, those who make charitable donations to certain identified charities and now it seems that the list of groups being targeted is expanding.
According to The Financial Post and a number of other credible news publications, CRA currently has dozens of pilot projects underway targeting everyone from waitresses to used car salespeople and real estate agents. It seems to be an all-out assault on middle class income earners who generate some or all of their income through self-employment.
This is quite sad because these groups represent some of the hardest working sectors in our economy, yet with the flip of a switch they are dubbed ‘middle income tax cheats’ operating an ‘underground economy.’ The Financial Post reported that in St.Catherines there is currently a blitz against local servers in the food and entertainment industries.
Waiters and waitresses specifically: Make sure that you are keeping track of you tips and reporting them on your tax return. This is because, if your employer is increasingly recording them, CRA can learn of them whether or not you received them in cash and whether or not you deposited them into a bank account. Unlike the old times when people tipped in cash they now add it to their credit or debit terminal payment and the employer will pass it along to you (sometimes in cash) but the employer does not want to pay tax on this so he claims the payment to you as a valid tax deduction. Well, the employer’s deduction is your taxable income and CRA know about it.
Pay close attention to any and all correspondence that you receive from CRA. If CRA writes to you asking you for information this is your first indication that they are taking a look at you. CRA can conduct an audit or investigation without coming to your home or business and conducting a full blown audit. They may write to you asking you to clarify information on a past return. Pay attention to who wrote the letter. The letter may not indicate that the writer is an auditor. The title of the writer could be investigation or compliance officer. If this happens, seek professional tax advice (not from a tax preparer but an expert in tax problems) immediately as CRA could corner you into a re-assessment resulting in thousands of dollars in penalties and interest.
In the event CRA simply re-assesses you and assesses a tax debt, it is crucial that you act fast. You may file a Notice of Objection to object not only to the re-assessment but also to penalties and interest.
If you work in one of the targeted groups, declaring all income, maintaining clean books and ensuring that all of your returns are filed on time is a good measure to ensure that you come out on top in the event that you come under scrutiny.
At the end of the day stay smart, stay agile and if you think may have a problem, seek professional guidance immediately.
For more information about what you can do if you are being investigated by CRA please visit www.taxsolutionscanada.com or call 1-888-868-1400.