What are the Penalties for Filing a Late GST/HST Return?

By Randall Orser | Business

Businesses that have registered to charge and collect GST must file a return to the CRA at intervals determined by the CRA. Depending upon your business income you may have to file monthly, quarterly or annually. If a business misses it's filing deadline it may be subject to penalties.

The CRA says that if a business has a zero balance GST account or it is owed a refund from the CRA then it will not get any late penalties.  If a business does owe a balance and files a late return then late penalties will be applied.  GST penalties are 1% of the balance owed, plus the result of the calculation of 25% of the 1% x the number of months the return is overdue to a maximum of 12 months.

For example:   1% of $20,000  = $200

                        (25% of $200) x  6 (months)    = $300

                        $300 + $200 = $500 total penalties

In addition the CRA will charge interest on any overdue amount equal to the 90 day Treasury bill rate plus 4%.  This also applies if you have been instructed to make instalment payments and you do not pay by the due date.

There are other penalties that you can incur by not filing a GST return on time.  If you receive a demand to file a GST return and do not do so then a penalty of $250 will be charged.  If you fail to file electronically when required to do so you will be charged a penalty of $100 for the first offence and $250 for each instance afterwards.

What happens if you file an incorrect return?

  • If you make a genuine mistake for example forgetting to include an Input Tax Credit you can include it on a subsequent return.  You have up to four years to claim a missing ITC
  • For other errors such as incorrectly reporting the amounts of GST collected or collectible you will have to request an adjustment of the reporting period affected and this can usually be done through your My Business Account
  • If you have deliberately incorrectly reported and wish to correct this at a future date you use the CRA voluntary disclosure program and pay amounts owed and hopefully avoid penalties and prosecution, although filing through this program does not automatically mean that your request will be granted.
  • If you file an inaccurate return you can be subject to a penalty of 5% of the amount plus 1% per month of the difference between the amount you initially reported and the actual amount up to a maximum of 10%.

It is worth also noting that you cannot claim any income tax deduction for penalties or interest that you may have to pay if you file your GST report late. 

From an article by Susan Ward

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President/CEO Number Crunchers® Accounting Inc. Learn how to just say stuff it to this bookkeeping thing with our 'Just Say: "Stuff It" To Bookkeeping program.