The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is issuing notional assessments to financial institutions for failing to file GST/HST Annual Information Returns; significant penalties have been imposed. Similar requirements apply for Quebec Sales Tax (QST) purposes for QST registrants.
Banks, credit unions, insurers, security dealers and registrants that are a de minimis financial institution as a result of having financial revenues that exceed certain thresholds are affected.
Because the definition of “financial institution” is very broad, all GST/HST and QST registrants should:
A “reporting institution” must file an Annual Information Return within six months of its fiscal year end. A person is generally a “reporting institution” if:
A person can be a “financial institution” because:
Persons who are a financial institution by virtue of the type of business they operate are generally a “listed financial institution.”1 This includes businesses that have filed the section 150 election and are deemed to be a financial institution.
De minimis financial institutions
There are two ways that a person can be a de minimis financial institution:
Test 1: Financial revenue exceeds thresholds
A person can be a financial institution under the de minimis rules if the financial revenue (i.e. the interest, dividends and separate fees or charges) it:
Financial revenue excludes interest and dividends from a related corporation and proceeds derived from the sale of financial instruments.
Test 2: Actively engaged in lending money or granting credit
Alternatively, a person can be a de minimis financial institution if:
With respect to the 2016 taxation year, interest earned from guaranteed investment certificates, demand deposits and term deposits with maturity dates that do not exceed 364 days from the day on which the deposit is made are excluded from the interest calculation.
For each line item on the Annual Information Return, a person is liable for a penalty2 equal to the lesser of:
Recently, the CRA has assessed financial institutions penalties3 for failing to file an Annual Information Return. Depending on the type of financial institution, the penalty can exceed $250,000 for each fiscal year.
GST/HST registrants should determine if they were a financial institution that was required to file an Annual Information Return.
As there is a general four-year assessment period for the CRA to assess penalties, as well as discretion to waive or cancel the penalties, GST/HST/QST registrants should:
[1.] Referred to in paragraph 149(1)(a) of the Excise Tax Act (ETA).
[2.] Subsections 284.1(1) and 284.1(2) of the ETA.
[3.] Section 284.1 of the ETA.