Government Documents

Save yourself some pain: collect Tslip data and secure consent for e-distribution upon contract

One of the most painful parts of Tslip season is tracking down any missing information for recipients (e.g. SIN, address, email address) so that you can submit their tslip to the CRA and distribute their copy by the February 28 deadline. 

This can be particularly difficult with T4A recipients who are engaged on a short-term basis,  or who are living elsewhere and not in regular communication with your organization. Sometimes contract workers don’t file their income taxes on an annual basis, and therefore do not feel the same sense of urgency in regards to receiving their T4A on time… but when they’re ready to catch up, they don’t want to be delayed! 

The best way to avoid the pain is to collect all the necessary data upon engagement of the individual. Consider making full name, SIN, phone number, address, and email address standard fields on a contract, letter of agreement, or other initiating document so that you are ready for T-slip season before you pay the individual. 

And, since e-distribution of T4As, T4ANRs, and T5s (as well as certain T4s - click here for more info) requires consent from the recipient, add another standard field on your contracts to allow each individual to confirm their email address and opt in to receiving their tslip via e-distribution. 

Taking a bit of extra care at the contracting phase will save you a lot of frustration when February rolls around.  
 

By the end of 2018 charities will be able to manage CRA filings online

Staff Post
By Anna Mathew

By the end of 2018 charities will finally be able to do most of their government submissions and communications online. The improvements are part of the Charities Modernization Project (CHAMP) which came out of funds earmarked in the 2014 Federal Budget for IT improvements at the CRA. 

From the CRA:

The 2014 Federal Budget provided the Directorate with $23 million to modernize its IT systems over a five year period. Improving these systems will allow charities to apply for registration and file their annual returns electronically, reducing their administrative burden.

As part of CHAMP, by the end of 2018:

  • Form T2050, Application to Register a Charity under the Income Tax Act, will be replaced by a new online application for registration e-service.
  • Registered charities will be able to file their annual returns online through the CRA's My Business Account.
  • The Charities Listings will be improved to help Canadians make informed choices about charitable giving.

Drache Aptowitzer has a September 2017 article which discusses the implications and how charities should prepare for the change to online submissions and communications. They advise:

  1. Assigning a person inside the charity to be the main authorized user;
  2. Ensuring that person is subscribed the the Charities Directorate e-lists and visits the Charities Directorate website regularly for updates;
  3. Ensuring that person is aware of what information about charities is publicly available on the CRA website and understands the concept of 'garbage in garbage out' (if a charity gives bad quality data to the CRA, that bad quality data is what will be displayed in the publicly accessible CRA systems); and,
  4. Ensuring that person is aware that all documents filed by the charity with the CRA will be available to all authorized users, so the charity should assess who currently has authorization and maintain their policy and update their authorization lists regularly.

Visit the full Drache Aptowitzer article here

T4 slips can now be distributed electronically

In an attempt to encourage efficiency and reduce administrative burden for filers, the 2017 Federal Budget allows employers to electronically issue T4 slips to active employees, even without obtaining prior consent. Until this announcement, employers could send one copy of the T4 electronically, provided they had the employee's consent ahead of time, (as well as still providing one paper copy), or they could send two paper copies to the employee's mailing address or provide two paper copies in person. 

The Budget announcement means that for 2017 T4 slips (and those for any subsequent year), employers now do not have to obtain consent from an employee to distribute their T4 electronically, provided the following considerations are met:

  • the employee is currently active (not on leave, has not left the company)
  • (by the last day of February in the year following the calendar year to which the T4 applies) the employer provides the employee

    • a secure electronic portal through which the employee can obtain access their T4 slip,

    • a secure site for printing the T4 slip, and

    • an option to receive paper copies of the T4 slip, upon request.

The employer must distribute 2 paper copies of the T4:

  • if the employee has requested that method
  • if the employee is on leave or no longer with the company
  • if the employee can not reasonably be expected to access the T4 electronically
  • if the employer cannot meet the above conditions for secure electronic transfer (unless the employee had previously provided consent to receive the T4 slip electronically)

It is important to note that Budget 2017 does not consider email to be a secure method of transferring sensitive information included in the T4 slip, and it does not permit employers to use email as a method of distributing the T4 to employees without their prior consent. So, the only case in which a T4 slip is permitted to be distributed to an employee by email is if the employee has previously provided (written or electronic) consent to receive one copy of the T4 by email. 

Visit this page on the CRA website for more information.

UPDATED: Bureaucracy 101: Today, Class, We’ll File an RC59 Form!

Staff Post
By Heather Young

See update below on a new CRA form which allows changes to a charity’s director, trustee, or like official information .

Somehow, successfully completing an RC59 Business Consent form – which authorizes access to CRA accounts for HST, payroll and more – has often felt like a hit or miss process. Sometimes there’s no issue, and in other cases it has taken repeated attempts to get account contacts updated.

I had an illuminating conversation with a CRA officer that has helped to resolve some important misunderstandings, and I’d like to share what I’ve learned.

The RC59 form identifies two levels of authorization. Level 1 allows information-only access: that’s what your bookkeeper should have. Level 2 individuals are authorized to make changes to the account and the information it contains: that responsibility should belong to your organization’s senior staff. CRA lists the actions that can be performed by each level here.

One of the potential disconnects to understanding the process is that there’s actually a Level 3 which is not directly referenced on the RC59 form, although you’ll find its powers itemized on the preceding hyperlink. A Level 3 individual is also referred to as a Delegated Authority – a term that appears in the RC59 instructions section under the heading “Part 5 – Certification.” Only individuals authorized at Level 3 are allowed to sign (certify) RC59 forms. 

Note that, by virtue of their position, members of your board of directors automatically have Level 3 access to your CRA accounts. Your Executive Director or General Manager does not: they must be appointed by a Director. 

The RC59 instructions state, “This form must only be signed by an individual with proper authority for the business, for example, an owner, a partner of a partnership, a corporate director, a corporate officer, an officer of a non-profit organization, a trustee of an estate, or an individual with delegated authority.” 

The potential misinterpretation is to fail to recognize “delegated authority” as a legal term with a prescribed meaning. In the not-for-profit world, boards of directors commonly delegate a broad span of authority to their senior staff, who, for that matter, may have the term “officer” in their job title, as in Chief Executive Officer or Chief Financial Officer. The fact that you are responsible for CRA reporting, or that you sign T3010s or any other tax-related documents carries no weight, and the only officers CRA recognizes are the officers of your board of directors, such as the President, Treasurer or Secretary.

Individuals can be appointed to Level 3, Delegated Authority, upon proper completion of an RC321 form, Delegation of Authority. Since staff typically handle the nitty gritty of CRA interactions, it may be convenient for organizations to appoint their ED as a Delegated Authority, so that they have the ability to manage other account representatives. 

The whole system rests on CRA having access to a current list of directors and officers of the corporation. We’ve often been in the position of filing an RC59 after a long-serving staff member departs – and learning, after much bother, that the only other contacts on record with CRA are ancient history. 

And, here is another disconnect. Registered charities are accustomed to sending CRA a detailed board list annually as part of their T3010 Charities Return. All corporations (commercial and not-for-profit) must also file annual information returns to the appropriate jurisdiction (provincial or federal), naming their directors so that they can be added to the public record. However, CRA’s Business Number (BN) Services Unit does not employ these sources of information. 

You need to make a special request to CRA to update your board list for the purpose of BN administration. There is no official form for this task. According to the CRA officer I spoke to, you must write a letter requesting the update, listing your board members, and providing proof of their appointment; for instance, a copy of the AGM minutes including the motion electing the board. A search of the CRA website for confirmation of these verbal instructions yielded this link, which affirms the general intent, but does not specify the process. If you need to update your board list with CRA, perhaps a phone call to the Business Window (1-800-959-5525) would be the best place to start.

Note that CRA can ask board members to provide their Social Insurance Number. The Charities Directorate does not collect this information, but the CRA at large requires it because board members bear a personal liability for amounts held in trust for the Receiver General, such as unpaid payroll source deductions and HST remittances. 

With your board list up to date, you will always be able to update the RC59 as needed. Putting this on your AGM “to do” list sounds like a good addition to administrative best practices.

So, class, what are today’s main take-aways?

Well, I hope that this information helps to put RC59 woes behind us – but, really, the most important lesson to be learned is the significance of board members to what we usually classify as an administrative process. I suspect most ED’s would prefer that their board members stay out of the minutiae of CRA dealings – but in fact the law assigns Directors an essential role.

By virtue of their position, they have full access to the corporation’s dealings with CRA, and they are the gatekeepers to staff, who are typically charged with direct responsibility for tax filings, remittances and related matters.

And let’s not forget the financial liability issue. When someone joins your board, they assume personal responsibility – legally, up to the point of being held accountable for payment! – for ensuring that taxes are collected, reported and remitted according to the law.

The issues around processing RC59s serve as a good reminder of board members’ fiduciary responsibilities, the details of which may become lost or blurred in the day to day reality of their role as informed, engaged and active volunteers, supporting the paid professionals who carry out administrative operations.

Update:

Some feedback from one of our clients: 

Both Young Associates and [redacted] now have Level 1 authorization to quote "interact with the Canada Revenue Agency." 
I should give a big thank you for all parties involved, with a special shout-out to Heather for giving us very detailed instructions, and for her written column on the RC59, and for [redacted]'s assistance is helping us submit the forms 7x, or so.
I know more now than I ever wanted to do about this process.

update 2: 

As of December 2016, the CRA has created a form to change or update a charity’s director, trustee, or like official information. The form can be submitted by email, fax, or snail mail. Visit the CRA website for more information. 

Note from the CRA: 
This form does not replace the requirement to complete Form T1235, Directors/Trustees and Like Officials Worksheet, when you file your Form T3010, Registered Charity Information Return. Form T1235 is used to update the director, trustee, and like official information in the Charities Listings.

T4A’s: Should we or shouldn’t we?

Staff Post
By Heather Young

According to the Canada Revenue Agency, fees for services provided by contract staff should be reported on a T4A slip in Box 048.

CRA’s Guide – titled RC4157 Deducting Income Tax on Pension & Other Income, and Filing the T4A Summary – directs payers to: “Enter any fees or other amounts paid for services. Do not include GST/HST paid to the recipient for these services.”

A couple of observations.

The CRA makes no distinction regarding who provided the services. Many companies assume T4A slips are for freelancers – but that’s not what the Guide says. An email to the Canadian Payroll Association’s InfoLine confirmed that incorporated businesses should also receive T4A slips.

And for sure HST registration makes no difference! Every year, clients’ contract staff tell Young Associates bookkeepers that they don’t want a T4A slip because they have an HST number. Whether or not a contractor charges HST is irrelevant to the payer’s T-slip obligation.

Make no mistake: this has nothing to do with individual preferences. Our job is to do our best to help our clients – the payers – comply with the Income Tax Act.

We hear all sorts of variations from payers too. Some companies are willing to issue T4As to freelancers who work under their own name but not to those who have a company name. Other organizations make apparently arbitrary decisions; for instance, that they’re willing to issue T4As to actors but they don’t want to generate slips for technicians.

Indeed, there’s a lot of confusion out there – and, to boot, a tacit acknowledgement on the part of the CRA that the T4A requirement is unclear.

CRA’s Guide RC4157 goes on to say: “Currently the CRA is not assessing penalties for failures relating to the completion of box 048.”

We don’t take this as a blanket pass for organizations to do whatever they want – and we don’t think you should either.

The wisdom from the Canadian Payroll Association – experts in the field – is that organizations should implement a process for issuing T4A slips to contractors so that when the CRA provides clear guidance they are able to comply immediately.

We can add to this some experience of payroll audits, where CRA examiners have scrutinized companies’ practices around T4A slip preparation.

Young Associates’ position is that clients need to work with their auditors and boards to interpret the Guide as best they can for their own situation. We always advocate for CRA compliance – and, if anything, for a more conservative interpretation that protects you from unwelcome attention from the government.

We appreciate comments on this post, although please note that Young Associates specializes in services for organizations. If you are an individual with a question about a T4A issue related to personal tax, we suggest that you contact a bookkeeper or accountant who prepares personal tax returns. 

Annual T-Slip Deadline – February 29, 2012

Staff Post
By Heather Young 

The annual payroll reporting deadline is looming. T4 and T4A slips must be filed by Wednesday, February 29, 2012.

T4 Slips

In preparation, you should reconcile your payroll accounts: make sure that the balance on your PD7A form (i.e. the total source deductions that the government acknowledges receiving) matches the total of the cheques you issued.

Conduct your own “pensionable and insurable earnings review.” The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) checks this for every filer. Before you submit your T4s, you should confirm that the correct CPP and EI amounts were withheld, and were properly matched with employer contributions. If you find any shortage, it needs to be accrued to the employee record and remitted to the CRA.

Review your company’s employment relationships for any taxable benefits. Taxable benefits are items above and beyond payroll that have a value for employees, and that the CRA considers taxable income. Check this page on the CRA website for information about cell phones, parking, transit passes, insurance, gifts and other benefits.

Taxable benefits should be processed on a pay period by pay period basis, as required by law. If you’ve overlooked something, though, be sure to record it and remit the appropriate taxes at payroll year-end.

T4A Slips

Here’s the CRA’s word on when you need to issue T4A slips.

For small not-for-profits, including arts organizations, the most common requirement is to document “fees or other amounts for services.” This includes freelancer and self-employed contractor fees and, indeed, fees paid to any unincorporated business. (That is, cases where the fees are to be reported on a personal income tax return.)

Amounts paid to freelancers are to be reported on Box 48 of the T4A slip.

Here’s what the Canadian Payroll Association says about T4As: “The CRA is currently conducting a review of the types of payments that payers will be required to report in this box (i.e. Box 48). While this reporting requirement may be expanded in the future, it currently applies only to payers of independent or self-employed contractors, who should report any fees (excluding GST/HST) on the T4A using Box 48.”

Late filing

The penalties for late filing of T4 and T4A information returns can be found here on the CRA website.

Questions? Please contact us or comment below and we’ll do our best to help!