SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES
The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action to support Canadian businesses facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 13, 2020, the Government outlined a coordinated package of measures to support the functioning of markets, the resilience of our financial sector, and continued access to financing for Canadian businesses. These actions will significantly increase the availability of credit to businesses of all sizes, sustain liquidity in key financial markets, and provide flexibility to businesses experiencing hardship.
On March 18, 2020, the government and its partners announced further measures to support businesses. These actions are part of Canada’s whole-of-government response to COVID-19, and the significant stimulus program developed to stabilize Canada’s economy, support businesses and to protect Canadians.
Supporting Canadian Business through the Canada Account
The government is changing the Canada Account so that the Minister of Finance would now be able to determine the limit of the Canada Account in order to deal with exceptional circumstances. The Canada Account is administered by Export Development Canada (EDC) and is used by the government to support exporters when deemed to be in the national interest. This will allow the government to provide additional support to Canadian companies through loans, guarantees or insurance policies during these challenging times.
Flexibility for Businesses Filing Taxes
The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
The Canada Revenue Agency will not contact any small or medium (SME) businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks. For the vast majority of businesses, the Canada Revenue Agency will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives.
The Liaison Officer service offers help to owners of small businesses to understand their tax obligations. Traditionally available in-person, this service is now available over the phone and will be customizing information during these challenging times by ensuring small businesses are aware of any changes such as filing and payment deadlines, proactive relief measures, etc.
Ensuring Businesses Have Access to Credit
The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) to provide more than $10 billion of additional support, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses. This will be an effective tool for helping viable Canadian businesses remain resilient during these very uncertain times. BDC and EDC are cooperating with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses, including in sectors such as oil and gas, air transportation and tourism. The near term credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector will also be increased through Farm Credit Canada.
The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) announced it is lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer by 1.25% of risk-weighted assets, effective immediately. This action will allow Canada’s large banks to inject $300 billion of additional lending in to the economy.
The Bank of Canada also took a series of actions to support the Canadian economy during this period of economic stress, enhance the resilience of the Canadian financial system, and help ensure that financial institutions can continue to extend credit to both households and businesses. This included cutting the interest rate to 0.75% as a proactive measure in light of the negative shocks to Canada’s economy arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent sharp drop in oil prices.
Supporting Financial Market Liquidity
As a further proactive and coordinated measure to bolster the financial system and the Canadian economy, the government announced on March 16 that it is launching an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program (IMPP). Under this program, the government will purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This action will provide long-term stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders, help facilitate continued lending to Canadian consumers and businesses, and add liquidity to Canada’s mortgage market. Details of the terms of the purchase operations will be provided to lenders by CMHC later this week.
The IMPP enhances the already substantial set of measures announced on March 13 to support the economy and the financial system. CMHC stands ready to further support liquidity and the stability of the financial markets through its mortgage funding programs as necessary.
Further, the Bank of Canada has announced that it will adjust its market liquidity operations to maintain market functioning and credit availability during the current period of uncertainty in which conditions are evolving rapidly.
The Bank of Canada also announced that it will broaden eligible collateral for its term repo facility to include the full range of collateral eligible under the Standing Liquidity Facility, with the exception of the non-mortgage loan portfolio. This expansion of eligible collateral will provide support to funding conditions for financial institutions by providing a backstop to regular private funding.
The Bank also announced that it stands ready, as a proactive measure, to provide support to the Canada Mortgage Bond (CMB) market so that this important funding market continues to function well. This would include, as required, purchases of CMBs in the secondary market. Similar to the increase in Government of Canada bond buybacks, this will support market liquidity and price discovery.
This program is meant to support employers and employees affected by the downturn in business caused by COVID-19.
The new temporary special measures are available to employers impacted directly or indirectly by COVID-19.
The measures allows for eligible employers to retain skilled employees and workers to remain employed during the temporary downturn in business due to COVID-19. The temporary special measures will:
• extend the Work-Sharing agreements by an additional 38 weeks
• wave the mandatory waiting period between agreements
• ease the recovery plan requirements
For more information on the Work-Sharing program, employers across Canada may call toll-free 1-800-367-5693.
Temporary Foreign Worker and Seasonal Agriculture Worker Programs
On March 20th, the government announced an exemption for the Temporary Foreign Worker and Seasonal Agriculture Worker Programs following the closure of the border to the majority of non-citizens. This exemption includes seasonal agricultural workers, fish/seafood workers, caregivers and all other temporary foreign workers.
Due to health and safety concerns during the COVID-19 crisis, individuals entering Canada under these two programs must isolate for 14 days upon their arrival in Canada.
The government also made a number of changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker and Seasonal Agriculture Worker Programs. These changes include:
A temporary modification to the Labour Market Impact Assessment process for agriculture and food processing employers, waving the 2-week recruitment period for the next 6 months.
Increasing the maximum allowable employment duration for workers in the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program from 1 to 2 years.
Support for small businesses facing impacts of COVID‑19
On March 27, 2020, the Prime Minister announced additional measures to support small businesses dealing with the economic impacts of the pandemic. These measures will help Canadian businesses protect the jobs that Canadians depend on, and pay their workers and bills during these difficult times.
To further support small businesses, the Government of Canada will:
Announce a 75 per cent wage subsidy for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. This will help businesses to keep and return workers to the payroll. More details can be found below (see the update from April 1st).
Allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) payments until June, as well as customs duties owed for imports. This measure is the equivalent of providing up to $30 billion in interest-free loans to Canadian businesses. It will help businesses so they can continue to pay their employees and their bills, and help ease cash-flow challenges across the country.
Launch the new Canada Emergency Business Account. This program will provide up to $25 billion to eligible financial institutions so they can provide interest-free loans to small businesses. These loans – guaranteed and funded by the Government of Canada – will ensure that small businesses have access to the capital they need, at a zero per cent interest rate, so they can pay for rent and other important costs over the next number of months.
Launch the new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program that will enable up to $40 billion in lending, supported through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank, for guaranteed loans when small businesses go to their financial institutions to help weather the impacts of COVID-19. This is intended for small and medium-sized companies that require greater help to meet their operational cash flow requirements.
Emergency Wage Subsidy for small businesses
On April 1st, the Government announced the details of the proposed Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy:
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would apply at a rate of 75 per cent of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees – representing a benefit of up to $847 per week. The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.
Eligible employers who suffer a drop in gross revenues of at least 30 per cent in March, April or May, when compared to the same month in 2019, would be able to access the subsidy.
Eligible employers would include employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy, with the exception of public sector entities.
For non-profit organizations and registered charities similarly affected by a loss of revenue, the government will continue to work with the sector to ensure the definition of revenue is appropriate to their circumstances. The government is also considering additional support for non-profits and charities, particularly those involved in the front line response to COVID-19. Further details will be announced in the near term.
An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy will be based entirely on the salary or wages actually paid to employees. All employers would be expected to at least make best efforts to top up salaries to 100% of the maximum wages covered.
Deferral of Sales Tax Remittance and Customs Duty Payments
In order to provide support for Canadian businesses during these unprecedented economic times, the Government is deferring Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) remittances and customs duty payments to June 30, 2020.
This measure could provide up to $30 billion in cash flow or liquidity assistance for Canadian businesses and self-employed individuals over the next three months
GST/HST Remittance Deferral
The GST/HST applies to sales of most goods and services in Canada and at each stage of the supply chain. Vendors must collect the GST/HST and remit it (net of input tax credits) with their GST/HST return for each reporting period.
Vendors with annual sales of more than $6 million remit and report monthly, and those with annual sales of $1.5 million to $6 million are able to remit and report on a quarterly basis (or monthly if they choose to). Small vendors can report annually.
The GST/HST amounts collected are generally due by the end of the month following the vendor’s reporting period: e.g., for a monthly filer, the GST/HST amounts collected on its February sales are due by the end of March.
To support Canadian businesses in the current extraordinary circumstances, the Minister of National Revenue will extend until June 30, 2020 the time that:
Monthly filers have to remit amounts collected for the February, March and April 2020 reporting periods;
Quarterly filers have to remit amounts collected for the January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020 reporting period; and
Annual filers, whose GST/HST return or instalment are due in March, April or May 2020, have to remit amounts collected and owing for their previous fiscal year and instalments of GST/HST in respect of the filer’s current fiscal year.
Businesses in need of information about their particular obligations may contact the Canada Revenue Agency or refer to its website.
Deferral of Customs Duty and Sales Tax for Importers
Imported goods by businesses are generally subject to the GST, at a rate of 5 per cent, as well as applicable customs duties, which vary by product and country of origin. While the vast majority of imports enter Canada duty-free, some tariffs remain, especially on consumer goods.
The Customs Act, for which the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is responsible and which is administered by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), governs the levying and payment of customs duties in Canada.
Typically, payments owing for customs duties and the GST on imports are due before the first day of the month following the month in which the Statements of Accounts are issued.
Section 33.7(1) of the Customs Act allows the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness or an officer designated by the President of the CBSA to extend, in writing, the timeline for accounting or payment of amounts owing.
Under this authority, payment deadlines for statements of accounts for March, April, and May are being deferred to June 30, 2020.
Businesses in need of information about their particular accounting and payment obligations on imported goods may contact the Canada Border Services Agency for more details.
New Loan Programs for Businesses
Canada Emergency Business Account
To ensure that small businesses have access to the capital they need to see them through the current challenges, the Government of Canada is announcing the launch of the new Canada Emergency Business Account, which will be implemented by eligible financial institutions in cooperation with Export Development Canada (EDC).
This $25 billion program will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced, due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus.
This will better position them to quickly return to providing services to their communities and creating employment.
Small businesses and not-for-profits should contact their financial institution to apply for these loans.
To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000).
A New Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium Enterprises
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19. To support their operations, EDC will guarantee new operating credit and cash flow term loans that financial institutions extend to SMEs, up to $6.25 million.
The program cap for this new loan program will be a total of $20 billion for export sector and domestic companies.
A New Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium Enterprises
To provide additional liquidity support for Canadian businesses, the Co-Lending Program will bring the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) together with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements.
Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts up to $6.25 million BDC’s portion of this program is up to $5 million maximum per loan. Eligible financial institutions will conduct the underwriting and manage the interface with their customers. The potential for lending for this program will be $20 billion.
Canada Revenue Agency’s Additional Measures for Individuals and Businesses
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) understands that individuals and businesses might be dealing with difficulties filing their income and benefit returns, and could experience cash-flow challenges in the coming months. In response, the CRA will be applying these additional measures:
Administrative tax measures
In addition to the income tax filing and payment deadline extensions, unless otherwise noted, administrative income tax actions required of taxpayers by the CRA that are due after March 18, 2020, can be deferred to June 1, 2020. These administrative income tax actions include returns, elections, designations and information requests. Payroll deductions payments and all related activities are excluded.
Trusts, Partnerships and NR4 Information Returns
The deadlines for trusts, partnership and NR4 information returns are all extended to May 1, 2020. This is due to administrative requirements in advance of the June 1, 2020 deadline for filing individual income tax and benefit returns.
Any objections related to Canadians' entitlement to benefits and credits have been identified as a critical service and will continue to be processed during the COVID-19 crisis. As a result, there should not be any delays associated with the processing of these objections.
With respect to objections related to other tax matters filed by individuals and businesses, the CRA is currently holding these accounts in abeyance. No collection action will be taken with respect to these accounts during this period of time.
Extending the deadline for filing an objection
For any objection request due March 18 or later, the deadline is effectively extended until June 30, 2020.
Canada Pension Plan/Employment Insurance (CPP/EI) appeals to the Minister
In cases where taxpayers wish to file an appeal in relation to CPP/EI rulings decision, they are encouraged to do so through MyAccount to avoid potential delays.
The CPP/EI appeals program is currently only actioning appeals that are related to cases where EI benefits are pending. These cases will be treated on a priority basis. All other appeals will be actioned when normal services resume.
In addition, the CPP/EI Appeals to the Minister program will exercise discretion on a case by case basis when additional time is required to respond to a request.
Deadlines for charities
CRA is extending the filing deadline to December 31, 2020, for all charities with a Form T3010, Registered Charity Information Return due between March 18, 2020 and December 31, 2020. This will allow charities more time to complete and submit their T3010.
Suspending audit activities
CRA will not initiate contact with taxpayers for audits, with certain exceptions, This includes:
no new audits being launched, and
no requests for information related to existing audits.
No audits should be finalized and no reassessments should be issued.
Suspending collections on new debt
Collections activities on new debts will be suspended until further notice, and flexible payment arrangements will be available.
Payment arrangements are also available on a case-by-case basis if you can’t pay your taxes, child and family benefit overpayments, Canada Student Loans, or other government program overpayments in full.
If you have concerns and require contact with a Collections Officer, please contact our toll free number 1-800-675-6184 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. your local time.
Requirement to pay (RTP)
Banks and employers do not need to comply or remit on existing RTPs during this time.
Taxpayer relief requests
Taxpayers who are unable to file a return or make a payment by the tax-filing and payment deadlines because of COVID-19 can request the cancellation of penalty and interest charged to their account. Penalties and interest will not be charged if the new deadlines that the government has announced to tax-filing and payments are met. For more information about deadlines, see Helping Canadians with the economic impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
For more information about taxpayer relief and how to make a request to the CRA to have interest and/or penalties cancelled, please go to Canada.ca/taxpayer-relief.
For more information, visit Helping Canadians with the economic impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic.