Tax Time – Canadian Tax Returns Due By June 30

While perhaps unwillingly, most players in the North-American entertainment sector have become rather well-versed in the various obligations facing both artists and buyers in relation to performances in Canada, but a little refresher never hurts! One of those obligations facing artists is that of filing annual Canadian tax returns.

Non-resident corporations (this includes American LLCs and U.K. LLPs by the way – these entities are not recognized as “look-throughs” in Canada) are required to file T2 corporate tax returns no later than June 30th following the tax year in question.

That means corporate tax returns for 2016 are due in – 2 weeks!

So what happens if you don’t file a T2 return? There are 2 consequences

  1. Non-compliance: if any of your filing obligations are not met on time, you will be considered “non-compliant” by the Canada Revenue Agency, and you will no longer be eligible for R105 tax waivers or reductions.
  2. Late filing penalty: the penalty is $25 per day up to $2,500 dollars and yes, the CRA absolutely does assess this penalty for every year that is not filed. If you actually have to pay tax, you will also be charged interest on your amount owing, but to be clear, even if you are treaty-exempt and have no tax liability, or if you obtained a tax waiver prior to your services in Canada, you are still required to file and the penalty will be applied to you if you don’t.

What if you are an individual? Do you have to file an individual (T1) return? This answer seems to be shifting as well – while the traditional thinking was that you didn’t have to file unless you actually had to pay tax (the CRA’s own website still reflects this directive) we have started to see non-filing notices sent to individual artists, most often headline artists who applied for tax reductions based on income and expense. While many CRA agents still have the same understanding that there is no filing obligation for individuals unless there is tax owing, a few senior managers have expressed their disagreement with this. This is still truly a “grey area” so for our part, we are dealing with individuals on a case by case basis for now, but at the very least, we know the $2,500 late-filing penalty does not apply to individuals, only interest on amounts owing. This means if you don’t actually owe tax, the only consequence if you fail to file a return may be non-compliance.

If you are an individual and had taxes withheld throughout the year, a tax return will likely allow you to recapture some of that withholding based on your net profit in Canada for the year, so there are certainly many cases where you may want to file a T1 return for your own benefit, regardless of the obligation.

There is still time to prepare your return so if you performed or produced shows in Canada in 2016, you should definitely contact your tax preparer if you haven’t already (or contact us – we can handle all your Canadian tax matters and we promise to make it less of a drag!)


T4 Information Returns

Canadian withholding taxes and waivers have long been part of the landscape of Canadian taxes, and the vast majority of non-resident artists and Canadian buyers were well aware of these regulations. In recent years however, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has been placing an increasing emphasis on compliance with annual filing requirements. Remaining tax compliant is now a necessary condition for any artist who wants to benefit from Tax Waivers, not to mention avoid penalties or assessments being levied against them by the CRA.

Non-resident artists performing in Canada through a corporate entity in a given year are required to file a Canadian T2 Tax Return – this is the primary element of tax compliance. A new element has entered the compliance requirements in recent years: that of filing T4 Information Returns.

T4A-NR forms are essentially tax receipts which a payer must issue to all staff having been paid for services in Canada in any given year – for a touring artist, this generally means supporting musicians, techs, and tour managers traveling with the artist on their Canadian dates. The form indicates the fees paid to each individual, and any tax amounts withheld from their fees, for work in Canada. These forms must be issued regardless of whether or not taxes were withheld from fees paid to staff.

The artist must send a copy of all T4A-NR forms along with a T4A-NR Summary to the Canada Revenue Agency no later than February 28th following any given year in which the artist performed in Canada.

This is actually not a new requirement – in other words, the law did not recently change in this regard. Never heard of it? We are not surprised! The CRA turned a blind eye to this requirement for many years in connection with touring artists.

It was not until late 2014 that we started seeing artists being penalized for not filing these T4 Returns for work in Canada in previous years. Unfortunately, throughout 2015 we continued to learn of penalties being assessed against new clients for the non-filing of these T4 Returns, and so we now consider these filings to be an unavoidable requirement for maintaining tax compliance in Canada.

We are very aware of the increasing burdens of Canadian tax requirements on touring artists and we remain dedicated to ensuring our clients’ Canadian tax matters are managed as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

Not sure if you are required to file T4 Returns this year? Wondering what the risks are of not filing in past years? Do not hesitate to contact us, we will be pleased to assist you with any non-resident tax issues.