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Mark Feldstein & Associates Tax Accounting Blog

Tax Alert

Canadians must report all of their worldwide income. Individuals working in industries where cash transactions are prevalent must take extra care that all of their income is reported accurately. The books and records of the business must be immaculate and reflect their income.

If the books and records are inaccurate and sloppy, then CRA can undertake a net worth audit and will examine the life style of the taxpayer and their family. The CRA auditor will reconcile the income reported on the income tax returns for the family to the standard of living in the household. If CRA cannot find all of the personal expenses then they will use statistics Canada averages for a family of a particular size. For example, if a family of five pays cash for their groceries during the year, then CRA will determine what a family of five consumes a year in groceries.

Years ago, I had a client that was audited and CRA used the net worth audit technique on them. CRA even estimated the consumption of family alcohol and cigarettes. In my discussions with CRA, I informed them that my client did not drink or smoke. Consequently, these numbers were dropped in their audit calculations.

When CRA completes a net worth audit, the onus is on the taxpayer to prove them wrong. If the taxpayer disagrees with the findings on the audit, they can go to the Tax Court of Canada to dispute the audit findings. The problem is that the taxpayers has to prove their lifestyle expenses and if they cannot, then they will not be successful in court and the process will be very expensive.

It is imperative to keep copies of personal expenditures if you are in a cash business, because if CRA performs a net worth audit it will usually be very expensive for the taxpayer. CRA will take the difference between the income that they calculated for the family based on lifestyle and they will deduct this from the income reported on the personal income tax returns. The difference will be taxable and subject to severe penalties and interest charges. Therefore it is important that if you are in a cash business that you maintain excellent books and records.

If you are in a cash business and have not declared all of your income, then you can apply under the voluntary disclosure program to avoid penalties and prosecution. This program is only available before CRA commences an audit investigation.

Visit my website for more information or assistance on the voluntary disclosure program.