Canada’s New Digital Sales Tax

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

Categories: Uncategorized


Everything You Need to Consider About the Advance Child Tax Credit Payments

Jul 16, 2021

As we are heading into the second half of 2021, individuals are now starting to receive their advance Child Tax Credits payments as a result of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The law, signed in March, increases the overall child tax credit, expands it to include children turning 17 this year, and adds another annual $600 benefit per child under six years old. While the advance payment on the credit may be a welcomed windfall, there are some important aspects of this tax credit individuals should be aware of when receiving these payments.

Receiving Payments
Individuals with dependent children started receiving monthly payments on July 15th which are estimated to total half of the amount of their estimated 2021 Child Tax Credit. The other half of the Child Tax Credit will be received when the 2021 Tax Return is filed in 2022. Individuals are required to reconcile the payments received on their 2021 Tax Return so they should keep track of the payments received throughout the year and include that information with their tax documents.

Overpayment
If an individual receives more than what is due to them, they will be required to pay back the difference. This differs from the stimulus payments, where individuals were allowed to keep the additional funds. This primarily applies to those with a dramatic increase in income during 2021. An example of this scenario:

  • If your income level qualified you to receive additional Child Tax Credits in 2020, and your new income level in 2021 does not, you will have to pay back the money received in regards to the additional Child Tax Credit you no longer qualify for.

Increase in Tax Due
The advance child tax credit received will be in lieu of claiming the tax credit on the 2021 income tax return. Since half of this credit will be received by the time the 2021 income tax return will be due, the amount of the child tax credit will be halved on the 2021 Return. This means that there will be fewer credits to offset against the tax due, which may cause a higher-than-normal tax due, or decrease the potential refund some are used to receiving. This holds especially true for those with a dramatic increase in income for 2021.

Opting Out of Advanced Payments
If taxpayers do not wish to receive the advanced payments of the Child Tax Credit, they can elect out of them. Typical reasons for opting out of the advanced payment are as follows:

  • An individual normally has a balance due to the IRS after filing their taxes
  • An individual doesn’t claim a dependent every year due to shared custody arrangements
  • An individual’s dependent(s) is(are) aging out of the range of the credit
  • An individual prefers having a large tax refund

Anyone wishing to elect out of the advanced payments, you may do so by clicking this link and following the instructions provided.

Changing Bank Account Information
If taxpayers would like to learn how to change/update their banking or direct deposit information, click here.

New IRS Portal
The IRS is currently developing a portal in which a user can enter updated information impacting the amount of payment an individual will receive. A user can do all of the following in this portal:

  • Update marital status
  • Enter in children born in 2021
  • Re-enrollment into the Child Tax Credit if you were previously unenrolled
  • Adjust your income for the calculation of the Child Tax Credit

As previously stated, this portal is still in development but the IRS is looking to release this portal in the coming months. Reach out to your WVC professional for questions on your specific situation.

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Categories: Tax Planning


PPP Deadline Extended Through May 2021

Mar 31, 2021

The PPP Extension Act of 2021 passed by Congress last Thursday has now been signed into law by President Biden. The PPP Extension Act of 2021 expands the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan application due date two months from March 31, 2021, to May 31, 2021. With nearly 190,000 pending applications, the law provides small businesses and nonprofits 60 additional days to apply for the roughly $79 billion of funds remaining. This extension comes just two weeks after the American Rescue Plan (ARP) made several changes to the PPP, which we previously outlined here.

An additional provision of the Act allows the Small Business Administration (SBA) until June 30, 2021, to process lender applications.

Categories: COVID-19


How to Prepare For the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Opening

Mar 24, 2021

This story was updated on 4/1/21 to reflect a potential change in SBA requirements for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). Restaurants will not be required to acquire a System of Award Management (SAM) number nor a D-U-N-S number as previously thought.

In a previous post, we examined the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) under the American Rescue Plan and outlined the program details, eligibility, and the qualifying uses for the funds. With more than $20 billion available for restaurant businesses of different sizes, we anticipate a high demand for RRF grants.

As the restaurant industry patiently awaits further guidance from the Small Business Administration (SBA), there are steps restaurant owners can take now to best prepare for the opening of the fund. We encourage you to take action now by:

Gathering your paperwork – Finally, you should begin compiling your receipts and financial statements to show your 2019 and 2020 revenues.

Unfortunately, as of the date of this advisory, the SBA’s application process is not yet open. Nonetheless, we expect the application to be available on the SBA’s website, and, once available, applications will be submitted directly through the SBA. It is important to keep in mind not everyone who applies for an RRF grant will receive funds. Much like the first round of PPP, funds will go fast. We highly recommend you take the steps above to best position your restaurant. If you have questions or need help, we are here!

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Kristin Metzger, CPA
Restaurant Practice Leader
kristin.metzger@wvco.com | 419.891.1040

Categories: COVID-19, Restaurant & Hospitality


Tax-Free Employer Contribution to Student Loan Debt Incentive

Mar 23, 2021

Statistics show that a mere 8% of employers offer some kind of student loan repayment option. While this is not a new phenomenon, bigger corporations like Google and Hulu recognize the value-add of such offering to attract and retain top talent. Recent changes to a CARES Act provision providing employers tax incentives if they offer student loan repayments has been making news. Similar to employer-sponsored retirement and health care plans, employers can contribute up to $5,250 toward an employee’s student loan balance (principal or interest) and the payment will be free from payroll and income tax under Section 2206 of the CARES Act. This temporary tax-free provision has now been extended for at least five years, and employers are starting to take notice.

Due to the pandemic, many employers are focusing efforts on employee wellbeing and financial stability. This opportunity benefits both sides: the employee doesn’t have to pay income tax on the $5,250 and the employer gets a tax deduction. Some employers have evaluated the benefit of providing annual raises or offering a contribution to student loan debt. Given the economic impact of the pandemic, some may prefer the latter. Especially with student loan interest suspended until September of this year.

If you are interested in taking advantage of this tax-free provision, employers who already maintain an educational assistance program will need to amend their program, and employers who do not already maintain such a program will need to adopt one. Developing a written plan that outlines: 1) how to notify employees of the program, 2) eligibility and, 3) benefits is a good place to start. If you have questions, please contact your William Vaughan Company advisor today.

Categories: COVID-19, Tax Planning