New GST/HST Forms from the CRA

The roll-out of new GST/HST notices of assessment from the CRA has started. If your business has not already received an assessment in the new format, keep your eyes open. You will see one soon.

What are the main changes?

Unlike the old GST/HST assessments, you’ll be able to access all the pertinent information you need on the first page. The information has also been simplified so it’s easier to understand.

Why are these changes happening?

These changes follow the results of a review by CRA that included international best practices and consumer feedback. The review assessed how notices are designed, formatted and written. It was discovered that notices, such as GST/HST, Notice of Assessment (NOA), etc., should have assessment results, account summaries and action points listed on the first page, followed by streamlined, clear information about how the assessment should be handled by the recipient.

During a press release earlier this year, the Honorable Diane Lebouthillier, P.C., M.P., Minister of National Revenue, stated, “Improving how we communicate with Canadians is a part of my mandate as Minister of National Revenue. The CRA will now offer clear and easy to understand correspondence products. We will continue to consult with Canadians and draw on international best practices to make sure our service improvements truly meet their needs and deliver the best possible results.”

Minister Lebouthillier’s statement were followed by Marc Miller, M.P., Ville-Marie-Le Sud-Ouest-Île-des-Soeurs saying, “The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of providing simple and easy to understand tax information to Canadians. Improvements to the Notice of Assessment are just one way of delivering on this commitment.”

Why is it important for CRA to gather and use consumer feedback?

Let’s be honest, few people look forward with delight to any interaction with CRA. Long hold times after navigating a complicated automated voice mail system and correspondence based on an extremely complex Tax Act have most Canadians putting of calling, writing, or doing anything with CRA. The irony is, if we don’t file our taxes or pay our GST on time, be diligent in our reporting or actually read those assessments, businesses and individuals face stiff penalties and fines.

Since CRA sends out more than 130 million pieces of correspondence annually, it is in the organization’s best interest to make that correspondence as easy to read and as user friendly as possible. This year, 75 per cent of CRA’s correspondence will be converted to the new format, with the rest phased for completion over two years.

In keeping with their mandate to simplify its correspondence process, CRA also offers a variety of documents and payment methods online.

What should you do?

As a consumer and business owner, never put off remitting your taxes, GST/HST and documentation to CRA. We know that sifting through forms can be low on your to-do list, so enlist the services of a qualified accounting firm that specializes in small business to ensure all your dealings with CRA are up to date and all your remittances are paid on time.

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