Jan 10, 2022
Written by: Brian Morcombe, Partner & Indirect Tax Practice Leader, BDO Canada – 2021
On July 1, 2021, new rules came into force that will significantly impact non-resident vendors and online platform operators. Specifically, the changes require certain non-resident vendors and operators of online platforms to register for, collect, and remit goods and services tax (GST)/harmonized sales tax (HST) on:
- sales of digital products and services provided to Canadian customers;
- goods supplied through fulfillment warehouses located in Canada and made by non-resident vendors directly through websites; and
- supplies made via short-term accommodation platforms.
Here’s what you need to know about Canada’s new digital sales taxes.
Supplies of digital property and services
What are the new rules?
Non-resident vendors supplying digital property and services to consumers in Canada are required to register for and collect GST/HST on these taxable supplies to Canadian consumers. An example is Netflix which, prior to July 2021, may not have been viewed as carrying on business in Canada and was not required to register for GST/HST. Under the new rules, Netflix is required to register to collect tax from customers in Canada that are not registered for GST/HST, putting Netflix on equal footing with Canadian resident streaming service vendors already required to collect tax from customers.
A consumer includes persons not registered for GST/HST (persons registered for GST/HST are not considered consumers for the purposes of the new rules). Operators of third-party distribution platforms making these types of supplies are also required to register. A simplified registration and remittance framework is available to these registrants that are not otherwise carrying on business in Canada.
The new requirements apply to non-resident vendors and distribution platform operators whose revenue from taxable supplies of property and/or services exceed, or are expected to exceed, C$30,000 over a 12-month period.
Can ITCs be claimed?
A condition of the simplified framework is that non-resident vendors and distribution platform operators using the simplified registration framework are not able to claim input tax credits (ITCs) to recover any GST/HST paid on expenses they incur related to their Canadian sales.
Goods supplied through fulfillment warehouses and through websites
What are the new rules?
Distribution platform operators are required to register to collect and remit GST/HST under the general regime (as opposed to the simplified framework discussed above) on sales of goods located in warehouses in Canada if the sales are made through that platform by non-registered vendors. Non-resident vendors using Canadian fulfillment warehouses to sell in Canada without the use of a distribution platform are also required to register for and collect GST/HST under the general regime. Fulfillment businesses in Canada are required to notify the Canada Revenue Agency of their activities and maintain certain records related to non-resident clients.
Lastly, non-resident vendors that make sales to consumers in Canada using their own website are generally also required to register for GST/HST under the general regime. GST/HST registration and collection is required where qualifying supplies, including those made through distribution platforms by non-registered third-party vendors to purchasers in Canada that are not registered for the GST/HST, exceed or are expected to exceed C$30,000 in a 12-month period.
Can ITCs be claimed?
Vendors that are registered under the general regime, as opposed to the simplified framework, will generally be eligible to claim ITCs in respect of GST/HST incurred in the course of their commercial activities.
Short-term accommodation platforms
What are the new rules?
GST/HST applies to all supplies of short-term accommodation (generally a residential complex or unit supplied for periods of less than 30 days and for more than C$20/day) supplied in Canada through an accommodation platform, such as Airbnb. If the property owner is registered for GST/HST, the owner continues to be responsible for collecting and remitting the GST/HST from its guests. If the property owner is not registered for GST/HST, the accommodation platform operator must collect and remit the GST/HST on that property owner’s supplies of accommodation to consumers.
Can ITCs be claimed?
Non-resident accommodation platform operators that are not considered to be carrying on business in Canada and are making supplies to consumers (as opposed to GST/HST registered persons) use the simplified registration framework, resulting in no entitlement for ITCs. Accommodation platform operators that are resident in Canada are required to register under the general regime and are able to claim ITCs where all conditions are met.
What about provincial sales tax (PST)?
If all of this sounds familiar, it should. Quebec introduced digital sales tax provisions aimed at non-residents of Canada that are not registered for GST/HST and Quebec sales tax (QST), defined as foreign specified suppliers, as well as specified digital platform operators on Jan. 1, 2019, requiring them to become registered for QST. Beginning Sept. 1, 2019, this QST registration requirement was broadened to include residents and non-residents that are registered for GST/HST but not registered for QST (i.e., Canadian specified suppliers).
Impacted vendors are required to register for QST under the simplified framework where sales exceed C$30,000 to individual consumers in Quebec in the preceding 12 months and relate to intangibles (like software and digitized products) and services. Canadian specified suppliers are required to collect QST on goods as well as intangibles and services. Like the new GST/HST simplified framework, Quebec restricted input tax refunds on vendors using its simplified framework.
Effective Jan. 1, 2020, Saskatchewan introduced rules targeting non-residents making e-commerce sales to purchasers in the province. Online marketplace facilitators and online accommodation platforms are now required to register and collect PST on electronic distribution services that are delivered, streamed, or accessed through an electronic distribution platform (e.g., website, internet, portal, or gateway) and online accommodation services that are delivered or accessed through an online accommodation platform, respectively.
British Columbia expanded its PST registration requirements to include Canadian sellers of goods, along with Canadian and foreign sellers of software and telecommunication services. These new provisions come into force on April 1, 2021.
Lastly, Manitoba recently released legislation taxing certain digital sales of goods and services effective Dec. 1, 2021. The following vendors will be caught in the new rules and will be required to register for, collect and remit Manitoba retail sales tax (RST):
- online marketplaces on the sale of taxable goods sold by third parties via their online platforms;
- online accommodation platforms on the booking of taxable accommodations in Manitoba; and
- audio and video streaming service providers on the sale of streaming services (by virtue of being included as telecommunication services).
Given the different approaches taken by the federal government and each of the provinces when taxing digital property and services, vendors and platform operators will need to gain a strong understanding of the requirements in each jurisdiction to prevent costly errors. If you need assistance navigating these rules, please contact your WVC advisor
Dec 20, 2021
State of the Global Economy
The same issues have been covered in the news cycle for months; supply chain malfunctions, production shortages, inflation, increased tariffs… all the reasons why businesses are facing heightened costs of resources this year. COVID-19-related disruptions have affected distributors and manufacturers worldwide, with gradual increases in the consumer prices index every month since the third quarter of 2020 (apart from May ‘21.) Numerous products including crude oil and petroleum products, natural gas, leather, lumber and wood, chemicals, and metal products have all seen substantial inflation (from 25% – 200%) in the last twelve months.
As costs go up, one tax leveraging option for those required to maintain inventories is the LIFO (last-in, first-out) inventory method. By using LIFO, goods sold throughout the year are deemed to come first from any goods purchased or produced during that year, then from the beginning inventory. As a result, inflation on items in the ending inventory is already included in the cost of goods sold, which may result in a lower taxable income.
LIFO is an alternative inventory valuation method, used by companies during periods of increased inflation to defer significant taxation. When adopting a LIFO inventory method, taxpayers can measure the effects of inflation on their internal and external prices by assuming the most recently purchased items are being sold first. This is achieved through an “inventory price index computation method,” using indexes published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
First, the taxpayer must ascribe value to all inventory (including beginning inventory) at cost. Then, say the LIFO method was adopted in the tax year 2020, the taxpayer should value all inventory at cost, ratably, for 2020 through 2022 and account for any necessary adjustments. In theory, the result of those adjustments would reflect the impact of inflation on company inventory and would then be deducted from taxable income and removed from the balance sheet.
It is required all taxpayers adopting the LIFO method for tax purposes, apply a LIFO computing method to book income. Additionally, all financial statements issued by the taxpayer must reflect computation under a LIFO method. To adopt LIFO, taxpayers must attach Form 970, Application to Use LIFO Inventory Method, to their federal income tax return.
Adopting a LIFO inventory method may not benefit all taxpayers. Companies considering the use of a LIFO method for the 2021 tax year should first perform a cost-benefit analysis in order to answer the following questions:
- What are the potential tax savings for the 2021 tax year if the company switched to LIFO?
- Historically, what trends has the company experience during periods of inflation?
- Do historic trends and potential tax savings warrant a switch to a LIFO inventory method?
- What costs are associated with implementing & maintaining LIFO computation in-house?
- Are the potential tax savings greater than the projected costs?
As always, our team of advisors is available to help you determine the best approach for your given situation.
Nov 15, 2021
Don’t leave ERTC money on the table!
The Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) is a provision established under the CARES Act which has been enhanced by additional legislation and could provide an immense amount of capital to employers. Unfortunately, statistics are showing the credit is being underutilized. The good news is with year-end planning on the horizon, now is the perfect time to leverage the ERTC.
What is the ERTC?
This is a refundable tax credit employers can claim against certain employment taxes, equal to a percentage of qualified wages and health insurance premiums paid after March 12, 2020, and before September 30, 2021.
For 2020, the credit is 50% of qualified payments, up to $10,000 per employee. Simply put, an eligible business has the potential to request refunds of up to $5,000 per employee for the year.
For 2021, the credit increases to 70% of qualified payments, up to $10,000 per employee per quarter. The credit was intended to run through December 31, 2021, but the passing of the recent Infrastructure Bill put an end to it after September 30. Nevertheless, the credit is still fair game for the first three quarters of 2021. With a maximum credit of $7,000 per employee, per quarter, a business eligible for all three quarters of 2021, could receive refunds of $21,000 per employee. Without question, the ERTC can provide much-needed dollars for eligible employers.
How do I know if my business is eligible?
For most businesses, eligibility is determined by meeting one of two tests; with a third test available for quarters 3 and 4 of 2021, which will be outlined later.
- TEST #1 – A measure of decline in gross receipts. If an employer experiences a significant decline in gross receipts for any calendar quarter, as compared to the same calendar quarter in 2019, they will be eligible for the credit in that quarter. For 2020, this is defined as gross receipts that are less than 50% of gross receipts for the same quarter in 2019, and for 2021, this is gross receipts being less than 80% of gross receipts for the same quarter in 2019.
- TEST #2 – A full or partial suspension of operations. If an employer was subject to any full or partial suspension of operations because of government orders related to COVID-19 they could be eligible. These orders could be Federal, State, county, and/or municipality. Even if your business was deemed essential and was not directly affected by such orders, there still could be avenues to be eligible for the credit.
- TEST #3 – Under a third test, if a business can meet the definition of a recovery startup business, they can claim the credits for the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2021 only (not exceeding $50,000 per quarter). A recovery startup business is any employer that began a trade or business after February 15, 2020, and has average annual gross receipts of less than $1,000,000.
What are some important details to keep in mind?
- First, gross receipts are determined based on the method used for the employer’s tax return. Meaning, if your business uses the cash method for tax purposes, then gross receipts for Test #1 should be calculated using the cash method, even if your financial statements use the accrual method. This could be beneficial for businesses, especially during times when the pandemic was hitting the hardest and collections slowed.
- Another important item to keep in mind is that, for this credit, employers are considered either small or large. For 2020, a small employer is one that, based on 2019 counts, averaged 100 or fewer full-time employees. For 2021, this number increases to an average of 500 or fewer full-time employees, still based on 2019 counts. If a business is above these amounts, they are considered large. Small employer status is more advantageous because it allows qualified wages to include all wages paid. If a business is considered a large employer, qualified wages are limited to wages paid to an employee only for the time that employee was not providing services. For example, if your business is a large employer and operations were partially suspended, but all your employees continued working during that time, your business may not be able to claim any credits on the wages paid during that suspension period. For this purpose, a full-time employee is an employee that, in 2019, averaged at least 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month. As an example, an employer in 2019 who had 5 employees that worked 25 hours per week and 5 employees that worked 30 hours a week, would only be considered to have 5 full-time employees. Early on, a common misconception was that full-time employees were equal to full-time equivalents, which may have caused some businesses to think they were large employers, when in fact that may not be the case.
- Finally, there are several different paths a business could take to qualify for the ERTC based on a full or partial suspension of operations due to governmental orders. As previously mentioned, even if your business was not directly affected by the orders, there still could be ways to qualify for the credit. We encourage you not to overlook this test as it could be very beneficial to revisit.
What are my next steps?
With year-end planning season looming, your William Vaughan Company advisor will surely be discussing this topic with you in the coming weeks. If you are not currently a client, but this topic has piqued your interest and you would like us to look at how this credit might benefit your business, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. As mentioned, the credit has been generally underutilized, so we would love to help your business realize the greatest benefits it can.
Connect With Us.
Mike Hanf, CPA, CGMA
Categories: Tax Planning
Nov 01, 2021
Charitable Gift Planning Opportunities
In the third installment to our Timely Estate Planning Strategies Series, we outline how traditional income and estate planning may incorporate an individual’s desire to fulfill philanthropic goals. Giving can be done both while living (receiving current income tax deductions) and through one’s will at the time of death (garnering estate tax deductions). However, given the current ‘perfect storm’ we outlined in the first blog of the series, there is no better time to address your giving strategies.
The estate tax exclusion is currently $ 11.7 million per individual which means persons with an estate less than this will NOT benefit from charitable bequests in their wills. The emphasis for these individuals should be obtaining current income tax deductions while fulfilling their charitable intent. Individuals with taxable estates greater than $ 11.7 million can receive a double tax benefit by making lifetime charitable gifts. The donation is deductible for income tax purposes when the gift is made; the property along with any future appreciation is removed from the taxable estate.
Several opportunities to benefit from current charitable gifts are available. It is important to note, total itemized deductions including charitable deductions must exceed the standard deduction to receive a current income tax benefit. Some of your options include:
- Bunching contributions into one year to make sure you exceed the standard deduction.
- Contributing to Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs). A large contribution to the fund in year one provides the income tax deduction. After which, amounts can be paid from the fund to charities over a designated number of future years.
- Donating to Charitable Remainder Trusts. The remainder interest in a given property is donated to charity, obtaining a current income tax deduction, and retaining an annuity (income) interest in the property during the donor’s lifetime. Or the reverse of this,
- Giving to Charitable Lead Trusts. This provides a charity an annual distribution while the remainder interest passes to a Trust beneficiary in the future.
- Making Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs). Taxpayers over the age of 70 1/2 contribute directly from their IRA to a specified charity. The distribution is not taxable and no charitable deduction is taken. Structured properly, this can convert required minimum distributions into nontaxable withdrawals from the retirement account.
Your WVC advisor would love to meet with you and your estate planning team to see how charitable transactions could help you meet your philanthropic goals in a tax-efficient manner.
Connect With Us.
wvco.com | 419.891.1040
Categories: Estate Planning
Oct 19, 2021
During the past year, ransomware attacks and other cyber breaches have skyrocketed leading to significant changes in the cyber insurance marketplace. Historically, obtaining cyber insurance was simple and renewals were a matter of updates based on major changes within an organization. Fast forward to now and notable shifts in insurance policies and regulations are taking shape. Underwriters are now asking for more information related to cyber controls and IT risk management.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Multi-Factor Authentical (MFA) is now a minimum requirement for cyber insurance through most carriers. The message, if you have not incorporated MFA into your current IT environment, your organization may be considered a high risk which would disqualify you from coverage.
MFA provides an additional layer of security above and beyond your traditional password protection. It requires users to validate their identity with additional credentials. These credentials could be the answer to a security question, the click of a button in an app for approvals, or even a biometric identifier such as a fingerprint. This extra layer of protection stops attackers as they won’t be able to access an account without all required credentials, even if they have stolen a password. The additional proof points confirm the person attempting to enter the system is truly who they say they are.
According to both Microsoft, ‘up to 99% of cyber identity attacks can be prevented with MFA’. Google has also supported this with their research ‘which shows that simply adding a recovery phone number to your Google Account can block up to 100% of automated bots, 99% of bulk phishing attacks, and 66% of targeted attacks.’
If you already have cyber insurance you more than likely will find stricter requirements during your renewal. If you are in the market for cyber insurance, you will need to incorporate MFA before you seek coverage. Carrier data proves those without MFA are at a much higher risk for extortion and therefore coverage is not obtainable.
Our WVC Technologies team can assist with your MFA initiatives to help you: one, qualify for cyber insurance quotes from multiple carriers, and two, help reduce your claims activity which can improve your insurance pricing.
Connect With Us.
Greg Gomach, WVC Technologies Senior Client Rep.
Categories: Risk Services