Sales Tax Audit: What happens if the CRA audits you?

  • By Nicole Mirabal
    • Apr 21, 2023
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The possibility of a tax audit can be daunting for any business. It is crucial to know what to expect and how to handle the situation if it does arise. In this article, we will provide an overview of sales tax audits, what happens if the CRA audits you, what you can do if you get audited, and much more.

What is a sales tax audit?

A sales tax audit is an examination of a business’s financial records to ensure that they are complying with tax laws and regulations. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has the authority to conduct tax audits and can request documentation, such as receipts and invoices, to verify information on a sales tax return. An audit may be carried out for a specific month to determine a refund amount or for a longer period of time going back four years (the maximum period that the law permits).  

What happens if the CRA audits you?

If the CRA decides to audit you, they will typically send a letter or notice informing you of the audit and requesting information and documentation. This information can include financial statements, bank statements, invoices, and receipts. It is important to respond to the CRA’s requests promptly and to provide accurate and complete information.

During the audit, the CRA may ask questions about specific transactions or expenses, and they may ask to meet with you or your representatives. It is important to be cooperative and responsive during the audit process.

If the CRA finds errors or discrepancies during the audit, they may reassess your sales tax return and impose penalties or interest charges. In more serious cases, they may also pursue legal action, such as prosecution for tax evasion.

CRA Sales tax audit

Can a sales tax refund still get audited if it is being processed?

Yes, even if a sales tax return in a refund position is being processed, it can still be audited. An audit may be carried out to validate the refund request. If the CRA identifies errors or discrepancies during the audit, they may adjust the refund amount or request additional documentation.

What is a reverse audit?

A reverse audit is a process in which a company or individual examines their own financial records to identify and correct errors or discrepancies before they are audited by the CRA. This can help prevent penalties, interest charges, and other negative consequences that may arise from a CRA audit.

What can you do if you get audited by the CRA?

If you are audited by the CRA, there are several steps you can take to make the process as smooth and successful as possible:

  1. Be cooperative and responsive: Respond to the CRA’s requests promptly and provide accurate and complete information.
  2. Get professional help: Consider hiring a tax professional to help you navigate the audit process and provide expert advice.
  3. Practice good record-keeping: Maintain detailed financial records and receipts to help support your tax return and provide documentation during an audit.
  4. Understand your rights: Familiarize yourself with your rights and obligations as a taxpayer, including your right to appeal any reassessment or penalty.

In conclusion, a sales tax audit can be a stressful and intimidating experience, but it is important to know what to expect and how to handle the situation if it arises. By implementing best practices and seeking help from a sales tax expert, any stress related to audits can be minimized. In the case of an audit,  being cooperative, and well-prepared, can help ensure a successful outcome and minimize any negative consequences that may arise. In the case of an audit, it is best to speak with a seasoned professional. 

At Leyton, our experts can help you navigate a tax audit and get more out of your sales tax through sales tax recovery. Schedule a free consultation with one of our experts and start feeling the relief of working with a sales tax expert.

*** Sales tax audits are also carried out by the governing provincial agencies such as Revenu Quebec, British Columbia Ministry of Finance, Manitoba Finance, and Saskatchewan Minister of Finance. The audit process will be the same as that described for the CRA above.



Nicole Mirabal
Nicole Mirabal

Brand Content Executive

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