Audit First, Pay GST/HST Tax Refunds (Much) Later

November 10, 2020 | Molly Luu, Colleen Ma | Toronto, Calgary

Canadian Tax Focus, Volume 10, Number 4, November 2020

GST/HST registrants who commonly make zero-rated supplies often file a return claiming a net tax refund, relying on the prompt payment of that refund in order to finance their businesses. The minister is required to pay the refund “with all due dispatch” (ETA section 229). However, where the return is selected for audit prior to assessment, there is often a delay of months, or even years, while the CRA audits the return to ensure that the refund is in fact payable (perhaps appropriately for the management of the public purse). Recent attempts to compel the CRA to pay the net tax refund through a court granting a writ of mandamus have been unsuccessful, apparently because the time taken for the audit was not considered unreasonable (see Iris Technologies Inc.2020 FC 532; aff’d 2020 FCA 117; and Express Gold Refining Ltd.2020 FC 614). On the other hand, a mandamus application can cause the minister to assess the applicant, which at least allows the taxpayer to file of a notice of objection.

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