The GST rules (now the HST rules) have historically allowed a supplier (seller) of taxable real property to make a supply to a recipient (purchaser) and not collect GST/HST in respect of the real property if the purchaser is registered for GST/HST purposes and provides a written certification of registration status. The relevant sections of the Excise Tax Act are subsections 123(1), 221(2) and 228(4).
What happens in these real property transactions is that the purchaser provides the seller a certification at closing and the supplier verifies the purchasers GST/HST registration number with the Canada Revenue Agency (as a due diligence step). If the certification is verified by the Canada Revenue Agency, the seller does not collect GST/HST from the purchaser at the time of the closing/transfer and the purchaser self-assesses GST/HST on its GST/HST return for the period in which the transaction took place. On the GST/HST return, the purchaser indicates the amount of GST/HST he/she/it is self-assessing and takes an input tax credit on the same return to neutralize the cash flow effect. The purchaser also files a GST Form 60 with its GST/HST return.
These certifications are not a prescribed form (that is the CRA has not developed a form to complete) and many lawyers and real property businesses have developed a precedent that they use. These precedent certifications need to be updated to account for HST.
I would recommend that the new certifications include the following information:
- The Recipient's (buyer's) correct legal name;
- The Recipient's GST/HST number;
- The Recipient's reporting period (not necessary, but helpful to diarize self-assessment deadline);
- The Recipient's mailing address in the Canada Revenue Agency's records (I have needed this in the past to verify items 1 and 2);
- The municipal address of the real property (in order to make HST place of supply determination at the time f the self assessment)
- The transfer value of the real property; and
- The rate of HST applicable (based on 5 and 6).
The Registrant Real Property Certification should make reference to both GST and HST on a going forward basis so as not to confuse the auditor who wants to raise a big assessment against the parties.
We have prepared such precedent certificates for transactions and will be willing to sell a precedent for a flat rate of $100 (the cost of which can be recoverable).