Filing GST/HST Return

Every GST registrant is required to file a periodic return, reporting taxable sales made during the reporting period, and calculating the amount of GST/HST which must be remitted to the federal
government for that period.

To some extent, GST registrants (with the exception of the largest businesses) have some choice in how often they will file GST/HST returns. The chart which appears on the CRA Web
site at www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/gst-tps/rgstrng/rprtng-eng.html, shows the assigned and optional reporting period for businesses of different sizes, and for those in certain specialized sectors.

Regardless of the type or size of business, or the frequency of reporting, the forms used are the same (although there are exceptions for financial institutions). The CRA automatically sends a personalized return—Form GST34, Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) Return for Registrants, which includes information specific to the particular business—i.e. the name and address of the business owner and the business number. In the event that a personalized return form is not received, or is misplaced, a standard form (Form GST62, Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) Return (Non-personalized)) may be used instead. The non-personalized return can be ordered from the CRA’s Web site at www.cra-arc.gc.ca/orderforms or by calling the CRA’s forms line at 1-800-959 2221.

As might be expected, the due dates for GST/HST returns vary, depending on the reporting period. If the reporting period (whether required or chosen) is monthly or quarterly, the return for the period as well as the remittance of amounts due for the period must be filed and remitted by the end of the month following the end of the reporting period. For example, a quarterly filer reporting for the April 1-June 30 period must file the return and remit any amounts owed by July 31.

Where the required or chosen reporting period is annual, most returns and remittances for the period are due no later than three months after the fiscal year end of the business (although there are exceptions for financial institutions). So, for example, an annual filer having a fiscal year end of March 31 would be required to file the annual return and remit amounts owed for that fiscal year no later than June 30.

An exception to the three-month deadline for annual filers is provided for certain small businesses. Sole proprietors who have a calendar year year-end (i.e., December 31) and who file annual GST/HST file that return. Any GST/HST remittance owed for the year is however, due and payable to the federal government by April 30. Essentially, the rules for sole proprietors in this area mirror the rules imposed for payment of and filing deadlines for income tax final balances and returns.

No matter what the filing frequency and deadline, GST registrants have a number of options available when filing their returns and making their remittances. Both the return and the remittance (unless the remittance exceeds $50,000) can be sent by regular mail to the CRA. Returns and remittances can also be filed with a bank, unless the return is a nil return or the registrant is claiming a refund or is offsetting an amount owing on the return by a rebate or refund. In such circumstances, the return and remittance must be mailed to the address shown on the return.

As with income tax returns, many GST registrants now choose to take advantage of the electronic filing options available to them. Like income tax returns, GST/HST returns can be filing by telephone, using TELEFILE or via the internet using GST/HST NETFILE. There are restrictions on the types of returns which qualify for electronic filing – where a return may be eligible for electronic filing, the CRA will provide the GST registrant with a four digit access code printed on the personalized return. A word of caution—the CRA does not consider an amount remitted to have been paid until it is actually received by the CRA or by a financial institution, and interest charges are levied on late payments, with no grace period. (The CRA does make one concession in this area: Where the due date for a return or remittance falls on a weekend or holiday, receipt of the return or remittance on the next business day will suffice.) Where payments are made through a bank’s automated teller machine, registrants should be aware that the CRA does not consider such a payment made until it has been processed by the bank, which may take two or three days. Similar considerations would apply to payments made through Internet banking facilities. And, of course, registrants who send their remittances and returns by mail should ensure that mailing is done in sufficient time for the CRA to receive the remittance by the due date.

The articles posted here provide information of a general nature. These articles should not be considered specific advice; as each vistor’s personal financial situation is unique and fact specific. Please contact a professional advisor prior to implementing or acting upon any of the information contained in these articles.

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