Frequently Asked Questions
We don't pay tax. How can we get a tax refund?
It's true that bands are exempt of taxes for on-reserve purchases; however, taxes are payable for off reserve purchases. That is where we can help you get a refund.
Our auditors work for us annually. Why would we need your service?
The Auditors main focus is balancing and verifying your records, and preparing financial statements. Refund Associates' sole purpose is to initiate GST/PST refunds for you.
We have internal systems set to recover taxes. Why would we need you?
In over 95% of the time, Refund Associates is able to recover additional tax refunds, due to frequent changes in tax laws. We also provide a free check-up, to ensure that proper systems are in place.
How much do your general rebate services cost?
We work on a "Contingency Fee". This means we are paid on a percentage of successful refunds. We cover all of our own travel expenses, to get out to your office, and the only time we send you a bill is after your refund cheque has been received. If Refund Associates are unable to find any recoveries, our services are free.
How long are the Auditors in our office?
This will vary from client to client. It will depend on the size of your First Nation, how many years our auditors are completing, and availability of these files. In most cases our auditors will be in your office for one or two days. Our auditors will normally need about 5-10 minutes of your time at the beginning but following that they make sure to keep staff disruptions to a minimum. Focusing on a thorough audit and to keep all files in the order they were originally filed.
It is important that our records be kept confidential. How do we know that you will keep our records protected?
We realize that keeping your records confidential is important to your organization. We have a confidentiality clause built into our agreement and we take the privacy of your information seriously.
We have used a regular service provider in the past. Why would we choose Refund Associates?
We provide services not offered by other firms. That means more money for your organization
Why will CRA not talk to me about my account?
CRA will only speak to the authorized representatives that they have on their system. If it happens that you are not on that list they cannot speak to you about the account. We will help to get you, and your requested staff listed as authorized representatives on their system. We can also help to remove any names that shouldn't be there anymore.
We are currently under Third Party Management. How can we use your services?
In these situations, we deal directly with the Third Party Manager to determine if our services would benefit your organization.
When do First Nations-owned businesses need to become a GST/HST registrant?
First Nation-owned businesses are required to become a registrant and to collect and remit GST if they have sales that surpass the required threshold to be a small supplier, as defined by CRA, and you provide taxable supplies. So for businesses that have a separate business number from the First Nation, they will have to collect GST/HST if they have sales exceeding $30,000; however if the business is being operated under the First Nations business number, that threshold amount is increased to $50,000. When calculating your worldwide sales you are required to include taxable sales made to Indians, Indian Bands, and band-empowered entities. As stated by CRA.
Some First Nation-owned businesses may choose to become a voluntary GST registrant. If you contact Refund Associates we will discuss the possible benefits of becoming a GST registrant, even if your sales do not exceed the thresholds stated above.
When should we be collecting GST/HST?
You need to be collecting GST/HST on any purchases of goods or services made to non-status Indians; However purchases of goods, made by a status Indian, on reserve or services completed on reserve are exempt and no GST/HST needs to be collected. For a list of the documentation you need to be collecting for these GST/HST exempt purchases, see here. This information is needed to show that the purchase was in fact tax exempt and GST/HST was not collected.
What are Input Tax Credits?
An Input Tax Credit (ITC) refers to the GST/HST that a registrant pays on purchases or operating expenses for their commercial activities. It is only the end consumer who will ultimately be the taxpayer; however it is required that the suppliers collect taxes at the point of sale. As these purchases are made for your commercial activities you are not the end user so these are recoverable. We will use these to offset the GST/HST that your commercial activities have collected and remitted to CRA.
What would the consequences be if we fail to collect/remit?
This can be a very serious matter. Failing to collect GST/HST when you are supposed to or remitting the GST/HST back to CRA once you have collected can lead to some severe penalties. CRA will start by charging interest on the GST owed. If still nothing is paid they will begin to charge additional late fees and penalties. They will withhold some of your General Rebates, and they can even freeze your accounts. It is important that these are kept up to date and are not ignored. If you have received correspondence from CRA regarding any of these consequences please contact us so we can help, before it gets out of hand.