Information for Canadian Small Businesses: Chapter 8 – At your service

Digital services for businesses

Digital services help businesses by streamlining communications with the CRA and simplifying the preparation and submission of tax information. For more information, go to E-services for Businesses.

Registering your business

Business Registration Online is a CRA web page that is a one-stop registration service that lets you apply for a business number (BN) and register for programs administered by British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Ontario.

You can also use this online service if you have a BN and need to register for any of the four common program accounts (GST/HST, payroll deductions, corporate income tax, and import/export). Businesses with a physical address in Quebec that need a GST account will be linked automatically to the Revenu Québec website. For more information, go to Business Registration Online (BRO).

Filing returns

File your income tax and benefit return using NETFILE

NETFILE is one of our digital tax-filing options. This service lets you file your income tax return with us using the Internet. You can only send your own return to us using NETFILE. Authorized representatives cannot send returns for their clients through NETFILE. When you use this service, you cannot change any of your personal information such as your name, address, date of birth, or direct deposit information.

If you have registered with the My Account service, you can change your address before using NETFILE by going to My Account for Individuals.

If you are not registered, call 1-800-959-8281 to make the necessary changes to your address before using NETFILE.

File your corporate income tax return over the Internet

You can file your corporation income tax return with us online. All corporations with annual gross revenue of more than $1 million must file their corporate income tax return online. Businesses can use our corporate Internet filing service or file through My Business Account, and authorized representatives can file through Represent a Client without a web access code.

Mandatory digital filing for GST/HST registrants 

Some GST/HST registrants have to file their GST/HST return online. Your filing options, however, depend on your reporting circumstances.

For more information on options for the digital filing of GST/HST returns, go to File a GST/HST return.

You may also be able to file your return online and make your payment through a participating financial institution or third-party service provider. Contact your local branch or service provider to see if they offer this service, or go to GST/HST EDI filing and remitting.

Note

Eligible T2 corporation income tax, GST/HST, and information returns can be filed online by business owners using our online services:

The GST/HST Registry

The GST/HST Registry is an online service that you can use to validate the GST/HST number of a business. This ensures that the ITCs you claim only include GST/HST charged by GST/HST registrants.

For more information, go to Confirming a GST/HST account number.

You can validate a Quebec sales tax (QST) registration number for a person who is registered for the QST, other than a selected listed financial institution (SLFIs), by accessing the QST registry on the Revenu Québec website at Validation of a QST Registration Number.

Note 

The CRA administers the QST for selected listed financial institutions.

Getting help

To get help using My Business Account, GST/HST NETFILE, GST/HST TELEFILE, Information Returns, Digital Filing, Represent a Client, and the Payroll deductions online calculator, you or your authorized representative can call Business enquiries at 1-800-959-5525. To find other telephone numbers go to Telephone numbers.

Note

The e-Services Helpdesk is not available on weekends, statutory, or civic holidays.

For help with Corporate Internet Filing, call 1-800-959-2803.

For general business enquiries, call 1-800-959-5525.

For more information about our digital services for businesses, go to e-services for Businesses.

Advance income tax rulings and interpretations

An advance income tax ruling is a written statement from CRA that says how we will interpret and apply Canadian income tax law to transactions a taxpayer is considering. For more information, see Information Circular IC70-6R7, Advance Income Tax Rulings and Technical Interpretations.

Ruling for a Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or employment insurance (EI)

You can ask for a ruling on the status of a worker or workers under the Canada Pension Plan or the Employment Insurance Act, using the Request a CPP/EI ruling service by using our online services:

To ask for a ruling for a given year, you have to send your request by June 29 of the next year.

GST/HST rulings and interpretations

You can ask for a written ruling or interpretation on how the GST/HST applies to your operations or transactions. We will provide guidance, and as much certainty as possible, about how the GST/HST applies and the consequences of your transactions or proposed transactions. If you need general information about GST/HST, go to Goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) or call 1-800-959-5525.

We provide our GST/HST rulings and interpretations service from rulings centres across Canada (except in Quebec). You or your authorized representative can call us at  1-800-959-8287. For service in Quebec, call Revenu Québec at 1-800-567-4692.

For more information, see Pamphlet RC4405, GST/HST Rulings – Experts in GST/HST Legislation and GST/HST Memorandum 1.4, Excise and GST/HST Rulings and Interpretations Service.

Excise duty rulings and interpretations

You can ask for a written ruling or interpretation on how excise duties apply to certain goods such as alcohol and tobacco products. For more information, contact a regional excise duty office. For a listing of their numbers, see Excise Duty Memoranda EDM1-1-2, Regional Excise Duty Offices, at Forms and publications.

Excise taxes and other levies rulings and interpretations

You can ask for a written ruling or interpretation on how the excise tax or air travellers security charge applies to your operations or transactions. For more information on requesting an excise tax or other levies ruling, go to Excise Taxes – Contacts.

Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Program

The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Program is a federal tax incentive program designed to encourage Canadian businesses of all sizes and in all sectors to conduct research and development (R&D) in Canada. Whether you are a first-time claimant, or need help to understand the requirements of the program, we have various free services and tools that can help you. For more information on this credit and these sessions, go to Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax Incentive Program or call 1-800-959-5525.

Canada business service centres

On the Government of Canada website, you can find a list of links to the websites of Government of Canada departments, agencies, and Crown corporations. You can also find links to websites maintained by organizations for which federal departments and agencies are responsible.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

To access Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada's extensive expertise and information resources, visit Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

Your rights, entitlements, and obligations

The CRA operates on the fundamental belief that taxpayers are likely to comply with the law if they are treated fairly and have the information, advice, and services they need to meet their obligations. These obligations may include filing required returns, paying taxes, providing information, and properly declaring imported or exported goods.

What is the Voluntary Disclosures Program?

The Voluntary Disclosures Program allows you to come forward and correct inaccurate or incomplete information or to disclose information you had not previously reported to us.

You may avoid penalties and prosecution if you make a valid disclosure before you become aware of any compliance action being initiated against you by us. You will only have to pay the taxes owing plus interest.

A disclosure is valid if it:

  • is voluntary
  • contains complete information
  • involves the application or the potential application of a penalty
  • generally includes information that is more than one year overdue

The Voluntary Disclosure Program provides an avenue for you to correct past errors and omissions and become compliant with tax laws.

For more information, go to Voluntary Disclosures Program or see Information Circular IC00-1R5, Voluntary Disclosures Program, or GST/HST Memorandum 16.3, Cancellation or Waiver of Penalties and/or Interest.

Cancel or waive penalties or interest

The CRA administers legislation, commonly called the taxpayer relief provisions, that gives the CRA discretion to cancel or waive penalties or interest when taxpayers are unable to meet their tax obligations due to circumstances beyond their control.

The CRA's discretion to grant relief is limited to any period that ended within 10 calendar years before the year in which a request is made.

For penalties, the CRA will consider your request only if it relates to a tax year or fiscal period ending in any of the 10 calendar years before the year in which you make your request. For example, your request made in 2018 must relate to a penalty for a tax year or fiscal period ending in 2008 or later.

For interest on a balance owing for any tax year or fiscal period, the CRA will consider only the amounts that accrued during the 10 calendar years before the year in which you make your request. For example, your request made in 2018 must relate to interest that accrued in 2008 or later.

To make a request, fill out Form RC4288, Request for Taxpayer Relief – Cancel or Waive Penalties or Interest. For more information about relief from penalties or interest and how to submit your request, go to Taxpayer relief provisions.

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