With all data moving to the cloud these days and ubiquitous online access to banking, customer and supplier portals, it makes sense that Revenue Canada (CRA) and Revenue Quebec (RQ) have followed suit. Considerable resources have been spent by the revenue agencies on developing their online portals and encouraging both individual taxpayers and businesses to move the majority of their tax related interactions online (almost every accountant conference has an appearance by a CRA representative talking about the improvements to their online portal and imploring accountants to convince their clients to make the switch). The upfront investment has resulted in significant cost savings for CRA/RQ (postage costs alone have dropped dramatically) while improving accuracy and perhaps most importantly increasing the effectiveness of tax collection efforts. CRA personnel have been able to move away from verifying calculations and manually reviewing tax returns to more value added analysis which has allowed them to identify tax miscreants with higher accuracy.
For both the individual taxpayer and small business owner there are numerous benefits to registering online:
1. Ability to review all tax documents, including notices of assessment, in one place rather than having to save/scan them and inevitably lose them when needed most.
2. Access to deductions at source, GST/HST and QST and corporate tax files including amounts paid to date and installments
3. Being able to keep on top of tax obligations to avoid penalties, reduce interest charges and run afoul of request for information/audits due to missed and/or overlooked mail
4. Submit documents relating to open queries/cases/authorizations online rather than faxing them in (which for some unknown reason is the only other non-mail way to send them to CRA, who does not have access to email. They are among the last fossils to use fax technology. RQ is a little more advanced and has a secure server by which documents can be emailed)
5. Consult statements of account to reconcile payments made to the various tax accounts. Often GST/HST QST refunds will get allocated to a balance owing on the corporate tax side or vice versa and as such this can greatly facilitate the reconciliation process.
6. Consult year end tax balances eg. capital and non capital loss carry forwards, refundable dividend tax on hand (RDTOH) and Capital dividend account balances are all available on the CRA site.
7. You can add your accountant as an authorized user using CRA “represent a client” allowing them to retrieve notices of assessments directly or reconcile accounts to payments made.
8. GST-QST returns can be filed online using the Revenue Quebec portal. Once filed a payment code is generated which simplifies the payment of tax through online banking (by going to bank’s tax payment and filing service and adding the payment type "Revenue Quebec download code". To make payment, copy and paste the code and it will be allocated to the correct tax accounts)
GST/HST returns can also be filed using CRA with payment that can be mailed in or paid online. This is especially useful if there is a refund owing.
9. Year end salary declarations including T4 and RL1 slips and RL1 summaries can be filed online rather than having to complete these by hand, mail them in and hope that they arrive on time.
Online registration is also fairly straightforward. With CRA, identity verification can be provided by a banking partner which can be seen on the the registration page. You want to make sure that you have your notices of assessment (both CRA and RQ depending on which agency you are registering with) handy and then follow the instructions to register. CRA will usually send a security code either in the mail or can also be retrieved by calling them. Revenue Quebec will generally want to call you to verify your identity.
CRA register account for business Login (click on one of the "register" buttons)
RQ my business account Login (click on access my account and then follow the instructions for registration. Note that you will be provided with a user name and password. It is essential that you save this document or copy and paste otherwise you will have to call them which can be a tedious process)
Registration itself may take some time, however, once completed it provides much more control over your tax situation which can be the cause of significant amount of stress for many business owners and their accountants.
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