I would like to offer you words of encouragement to make positive improvements towards better goods and services tax (GST), harmonized sales tax (HST) and other sales and local taxes (SALT) compliance. I would like to motivate you to make your working lives easier if you are blessed with the task of GST/HST/SALT recording and reporting.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) motivates us to act by fear of negative events, such as an audit and/or assessment. The CRA motivates compliance by threat of penalties and interest assessments. They are not wrong in approaching GST/HST in this manner as it is a self-reporting system --- follow the rules of suffer negative consequences. Many businesses are motivated by money and fear and this system works for some. However, it does not work for many.
Almost all businesses have just completed the task of filing a GST/HST return. Annual filers filed their first GST/HST by today's deadline. Quarterly filers have filed their second GST/HST return (for Q4 2010) by today's deadline. Monthly filers filed their December 2010 GST/HST return by today's deadline.
How many of you have spent hours of frustration in performing the calculations and rechecking documentation and numbers in order to file the GST/HST return? How many of you could not verify whether you were to remit GST at 5% or HST at 13% or 12% or 15%? How many of you had to self-assess GST/HST and were unsure what to do? How many of you needed to complete documentation for a refund/rebate and were not sure what to do? How many of you could not trace your point of sale rebates, your exempt sales and your zero-rated sales (sales when you did not charge GST/HST)? How many of you walked away from the task wanting to scream at assistants and others within your organization? How many called someone in your organization and "idiot" or other unpleasant name (if you did, go apologize).
Would you like this task to be easier for the next reporting period? Are there answers you need in order to perform the task better next month or quarter or year? Is there training that you or your employees need? Would you like to take better control over this reporting process?
If you want to make the tasks related to GST/HST reporting easier, you can. Take the negative experience and make a list of why it was a negative experience to file your GST/HST return. Write down what worked and what did not. GST/HST compliance will improve if you fix the things you listed as not working properly.
Did you have difficulties making sure you claimed 100% of you input tax credits? Fix it.
Did you have difficulties making sure you recaptured input tax credits where required? Fix it.
Did you have difficulty reconciling various reports? Fix it.
Were you lacking information that you needed to make decisions? Fix it.
Do you need help to fix it? Find people who understand GST/HST to help you. They do exist.
You can do this. You can improve your job. You can spend more time with family and friends during GST/HST reporting time. You can be the force of positive change and others will be grateful. what are you waiting for --- another SALT return?