The Canada Revenue Agency building is seen in Ottawa, Monday April 6, 2020. Opposition MPs pressed officials Thursday to say how pared they are to begin collecting GST on sales by foreign companies such as Netflix, AirbnB and Amazon starting next year, as proposed by the Liberal government. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

MPs probe officials on ability to collect GST from Netflix, other foreign companies

MPs probe officials on ability to collect GST from Netflix, other foreign companies

OTTAWA — Opposition MPs pressed officials Thursday to say how ready they’ll be to begin collecting GST on cross-border sales by foreign companies starting next year, as proposed by the Liberal government’s fiscal update.

Foreign companies without a physical presence in Canada, such as Netflix, Airbnb and Amazon, currently aren’t required to collect the federal goods and service tax that’s routinely applied by domestic companies.

Senior officials from the Canada Revenue Agency, Finance Department and the Canada Border Services Agency told a Commons virtual committee meeting Thursday they will be able to begin collecting GST and HST on cross-border digital sales by July 1.

“We’re pretty confident,” CRA chief executive Bob Hamilton said.

“I would say, though, that it’s going to require some thinking between now and then and, obviously, consulting because we want to do this in a way that is streamlined and efficient.”

He said the agency has the resources it needs to meet the deadline but there are always gaps in the tax system that need to be filled.

“The one good thing I would reference is that there are other countries and jurisdictions that have done some of this, so we’ll be looking to those practices as well as engaging the stakeholders to look at best way to implement this,” Hamilton said.

He said the CRA will get a “good share” of the GST revenue that should be collected on cross-border sales and but it’s difficult to estimate what percentage of the total can be collected.

The collection of GST or HST on all transactions could be a politically charged issue for several reasons, including international treaties between Canada and other countries as well as the impact on what comes out of consumer pockets.

Conservative MP Philip Lawrence, who led off the questions a two-hour meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, asked how the CRA can ensure foreign companies comply with the government’s plan — particularly if they’re not a reputable large company.

Ted Gallivan, another CRA official, said that the OECD — a multinational organization that includes Canada and most other advanced economies — has produced good guidance on how to ensure there is voluntary compliance.

He added that “countries are working together to deal with aggressive non-compliance.”

— by David Paddon in Toronto.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta recorded a single-day record of over 57,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta hits daily record of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Central zone has administered 111,735 doses of the COVID-19

Alberta reported an additional 1,980 cases of COVID-19 Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer adds 37th death from COVID-19, active cases drop

Alberta Health identified an additional 1,980 cases of the virus province-wide

A rodeo south of Bowden drew a huge crowd on May 1 and 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy Mom’s Diner’s Facebook page)
FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman didn’t expect to get hit with a double whammy at… Continue reading

A courtroom at the Edmonton Law Courts building, in Edmonton on Friday, June 28, 2019. The effect of the coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact on the Canadian justice system warn a number of legal experts. The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench announced Sunday it would adjourn all scheduled trials across the province for at least 10-weeks limiting hearings to only emergency or urgent matters. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton mother found guilty of manslaughter in death of five-year-old girl

EDMONTON — An Edmonton woman was found guilty Friday of manslaughter in… Continue reading

A Statistics Canada 2016 Census mailer sits on the key board of a laptop after arriving in the mail at a residence in Ottawa, May 2, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Statistics Canada sees more demand to fill out census online during pandemic

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the response to the census is higher… Continue reading

Travellers, who are not affected by new quarantine rules, arrive at Terminal 3 at Pearson Airport in Toronto, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. Ottawa will create a new digital platform to help in processing immigration applications more quickly and efficiently after COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for a faster shift to a digital immigration system, the immigration department said. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ottawa to create new system to tackle delays in processing immigration applications

Ottawa says it will create a new digital platform to help process… Continue reading

A man on a skateboard and a young woman pass large letters spelling out UBC at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver on November 22, 2015. The federal government is writing off more than $200 million in outstanding student loan payments that officials will never be able to collect. Recently released spending documents show the government won't collect $203.5 million in debts from 34,240 students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC Okanagan

VANCOUVER — A B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing is set to start… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday’s $25 million Lotto max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $25 million jackpot… Continue reading

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
States scale back vaccine orders as interest in shots wanes

MADISON, Wis. — States asked the federal government this week to withhold… Continue reading

Toronto FC coach Chris Armas talks with his players during a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg soccer match against Mexico's Cruz Azul at Azteca stadium in Mexico City, Tuesday, May 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Fernando Llano
Toronto FC coach Chris Armas returns to Red Bull Arena to face former team

Toronto FC coach Chris Armas returns to Red Bull Arena to face former team

Most Read