GST/HST – Voluntary Disclosures Program
What you need to know
Before you contact the Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP) to correct your tax account, first make sure you are eligible for relief. You may be eligible if you:
- failed to fulfil your tax obligations under the relevant legislation
- failed to charge, collect, or report GST/HST for any reporting period
- improperly claimed input tax credits, refunds, or rebates
- provided incomplete information on a return for a reporting period
- failed to file information returns (example: GST111)
Although special situations will be considered on a case-by-case basis, the following applications will typically not be considered eligible under the VDP:
- applications where you are attempting to increase the amount of input tax credits, other credit adjustments or rebates without any corresponding increase in tax liability in the application period
- elections - there are provisions in the various acts administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) which entitle you to choose or elect a specific tax treatment of certain transactions. For example, elections for nil consideration between closely related persons (under section 156 of the Excise Tax Act) should be completed using Form RC4616
- applications where a person is in receivership or has become bankrupt
- post-assessment requests for penalty and interest relief (these requests will be considered to be retroactive tax planning)
Required Information and documentation:
Include all CRA returns, forms, and schedules needed to correct the non-compliance with your application. Your Form RC199, Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP) Application, or letter with the same information, must be signed by you and, if applicable, the representative submitting the application on your behalf.
Make sure that your application meets the following five conditions of a valid application. To be valid your application must:
- be voluntary, which means you must submit your application before the CRA takes any enforcement action against you or anyone related on the same information disclosed in your application
- be complete, which means that you must include all relevant tax years with all information and documentation (which includes all returns, forms, and schedules needed to correct the error or omission)
- involve the application of or the potential application of a penalty or interest
- include information that is at least one reporting period past due
- include payment of the estimated tax owing
Payment of the estimated tax owing
The CRA can only grant you relief from prosecution and from some penalties or interest. You still have to pay any taxes owing. Payment of the estimated taxes owing is required as a condition to qualify for the VDP.
If you do not have the ability to pay in full at the time of filing a VDP application, you can ask to be considered for a payment arrangement on Form RC199. To learn more about your payment options, go to Make a Payment to the Canada Revenue Agency.
If you are paying by cheque and you are making more than one submission (for example, individual and business) in the same application, include one cheque for each submission.
There are instances where a payment is not required. Examples include applications that are made up of only information returns (for example, the GST111 Financial Institution GST/HST Annual Information Return).
Do not send cash by mail.
Since the information you disclose in your application relates to your tax affairs, the CRA has an obligation to review and assess the information you submit. As a result, even if CRA concludes that you are not eligible for relief under the VDP, the information disclosed could be referred to another CRA program area. This referral may result in an assessment or reassessment, the charging of penalties, and the start of an investigation and later prosecution. Also, the CRA can verify and may later audit any information for any tax year, not just those included in your application. If the CRA finds that you misrepresented the facts because of neglect, carelessness, willful default, or fraud, the CRA will cancel any relief granted as part of the VDP.
Pre-disclosure discussion service:
If you are not sure you want to proceed with an application, you can use the pre-disclosure discussion service to have preliminary discussions about your situation on an anonymous basis to get:
- insight into the VDP process,
- a better understanding of the implications of not updating your tax affairs in order to meet your obligations,
- and the relief available under the VDP.
Pre-disclosure discussions with a CRA officer are for your benefit. The discussions are informal, non-binding, and can happen before your identity is revealed. These discussions do not mean you are accepted into the VDP and have no impact on CRA’s ability to audit, penalize, or refer a case for criminal prosecution.
For complex technical reporting issues or questions, you will be referred to a CRA officer in a specialized audit area to discuss your situation on an anonymously.
To speak with a CRA officer, contact General Enquiries:
- Businesses (Canada and the United States): 1-800-959-5525
- Individuals (Canada and the United States): 1-800-959-8281
For all other telephone numbers, go to Telephone numbers – Canada Revenue Agency .
It is essential that your application contain all the necessary information and documentation when it is submitted.
In the exceptional case where an extension is granted to provide the necessary information and documentation, it is important that you reply by the due date provided. Applications where information and documentation is not received by the provided due date may be denied as incomplete.
If your application is denied as incomplete, because information was not sent by the due date, the CRA will not consider a request for a second administrative review and we will deny a later application for the same matter.
How many times can you apply?
If you submit a second application, it will normally only be considered if the circumstances surrounding the second application are both beyond your control and related to a different matter than the first application.
Forms and publications
- Form RC199, Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP) Application
- GST/HST Memorandum 16-5, Voluntary Disclosures Program
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