WCB teams up with Revenue Canada to ferret out evasive businesses

Some businesses might be able to fool the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board. And some might be able to fool Canada Revenue…

Some businesses might be able to fool the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board.

And some might be able to fool Canada Revenue Agency.

But the two agencies are betting businesses can’t fool ‘em both.

To make sure employers are paying taxes and premiums, the agencies have started sharing information.

This week in a joint announcement, the Canada Revenue Agency and the workers’ compensation board revealed they would be sharing files to ensure every employer is paying what they owe to both agencies.

They will share “tombstone” information, including names and contact information.

Companies appearing on one organization’s list and not another will be flagged, and told to pay their respective taxes and workers’ compensation premiums.

Employers who voluntarily come forward will be charged back payments, plus interest, but can avoid penalties, according to the agencies.

Up to 500 businesses have been flagged by the Yukon workers’ compensation board, said president and CEO Valerie Royle.

It can account for a few hundred on the list. The others it can’t, so they could be delinquent, she said.

“We figure 300 or 400 businesses will be getting letters.”

While employees of deadbeat employers are still covered by the WCB, not paying isn’t fair to the employers who play by the rules.

“Employers who are not registered with the board are not paying their fair share of premiums and therefore other businesses are paying that share for them.”

The board has the ability to charge those employers for every nickel of medical care received by injured employees, so it’s in everyone’s interest to pay, she added.

The WCB will issue its letters later this year, said Royle.

“We’re doing this without any additional resources.”

Revenue Canada also expects to be paid, said agency spokesman Dave Morgan.

“When we looked at it, there’s roughly 230 businesses that we would be sending letters to.

“Failure to file an information return (including taxes, GST and EI) can be $25 a day, up to $2,500.”

“If you receive a letter, you have 30 days to contact us.”

Some businesses on the list may have used a different name when they registered with each agency, he added.

The ability to share tax information was granted to the Canada Revenue Agency in 1999 when parliament amended the Income Tax Act, said Don Salmons, who also works with the agency.

“In 1999 the Income Tax Act was amended to allow the Canada Revenue Agency to share information with other government organizations,” he said.

“It creates a level playing field … it creates a fairer tax system for all Canadians.”

The agreement has been vetted by the privacy commissioner of Canada, according to a joint media release issued by the two agencies.

“Information-sharing between (the revenue agency) and the (WCB) meets the legal requirements under freedom of information and privacy legislation,” states the release.

“An amendment to the Income Tax Act in 1999 provided the CRA with the authority to disclose taxpayer information to administer the Act.”

Section 93(2) of the Workers’ Compensation Act authorizes the WCB to enter into information-sharing agreements with other governmental organizations.

Similar agreements are already in place in Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia.

Business owners should heed the call and pay their taxes and premiums if they haven’t already done so, said Rick Karp, president of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce.

“If you’re doing business, it’s your business to report to the WCB,” he said.

“If you’ve got a business, you’re required to declare and pay your share of taxes.”

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