Common Reporting Standard FAQs
What is the Common Reporting Standard?
The Common Reporting Standard (“CRS”) is a new international standard for the automatic exchange of financial account information between tax administrations to use in fighting tax evasion and to promote voluntary compliance with tax laws. Canada and close to a hundred other jurisdictions are committed to its implementation. For a list of the jurisdictions that have committed to implement the CRS, visit the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”) website at: https://www.oecd.org/tax/transparency/AEOI-commitments.pdf
What are the key features of the CRS?
The CRS requires financial institutions in a jurisdiction to report to their tax administration the financial accounts held by non-resident individuals and entities or, certain entities controlled by non-resident individuals. Tax administrations are, in turn, expected to share the financial account information with other jurisdictions committed to the CRS through formalized arrangements.
The implementation of the CRS in Canada would result in Canadian financial institutions having to report to the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) the financial accounts they maintain for non-residents of Canada (for tax purposes) and certain entities controlled by non-residents of Canada (for tax purposes). The CRA would, in turn, give to each foreign jurisdiction with which it has formalized a CRS partnership information on account holders who reside in that jurisdiction. To improve Canada’s ability to protect its tax base, the CRA would receive information on financial accounts held by Canadian residents outside of Canada from its CRS partners. For more information on CRS please visit http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/nnrsdnts/nhncdrprtng/crs/menu-eng.html
When would the CRS take effect?
The Department of Finance has proposed that the CRS take effect starting on July 1, 2017. As of that date, Canadian financial institutions would be required to have procedures in place to identify accounts held by non-residents and to report the required information to the CRA.
Would the implementation of the CRS change how you, as an individual, interact with your Canadian financial institution?
If your financial institution has information indicating that you may be a non-resident of Canada (for tax purposes), it may ask where you reside for tax purposes. You could also expect to be asked by your financial institution to declare your residency for tax purposes when you open an account and to provide documentation to support your declaration, such as a driver’s licence. Financial institutions have to know where you reside, so they can satisfy their tax reporting obligations to the CRA.
Would the implementation of the CRS cause the account information of Canadian residents to be shared with other jurisdictions?
The CRS is designed to help jurisdictions maintain the integrity of their tax systems by making it more difficult for their residents to conceal investments through foreign financial institutions. As such, the implementation of the CRS in Canada would cause reporting by Canadian financial institutions only in respect of non-residents of Canada (for tax purposes).
Does the CRS apply to all types of financial accounts?
The CRS applies to most financial accounts held by individuals and entities, including bank accounts, mutual funds, brokerage accounts, custodial accounts, annuity contracts (including segregated fund contracts), and life insurance policies with cash value (collectively referred to in this document as “accounts”). Accounts that are deemed to be low risk for tax evasion, such as most CRA registered plans (including RRSPs, RRIFs, RESPs, RPPs, PRPPs, and RDSPs), are excluded from the CRS (based on draft Canadian legislation). Accounts subject to reporting are referred to in the remainder of this document as “reportable” accounts.
How does the CRS compare to U.S. FATCA?
The CRS was developed based on FATCA (the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), a U.S. tax law intended to improve tax compliance. In 2014, the Canadian government entered into an agreement with the U.S. to implement FATCA. As of July 1, 2014, Canadian financial institutions are required to identify account holders who are U.S. persons for U.S. tax purposes (both U.S. residents and U.S. citizens) and to report certain information about those accounts to the CRA, which then exchanges this information with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Further information about FATCA is available on the CRA’s website at: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/nnrsdnts/nhncdrprtng/menu-eng.html
The CRS expands upon FATCA by requiring Canadian financial institutions to identify and report to the CRA information about accounts held by persons who are resident for tax purposes in any country other than Canada or the U.S. The CRA will then exchange this information with tax authorities of the countries with which Canada has entered into an agreement. Reportable accounts held by U.S. persons will continue to be reported to the CRA under FATCA, not the CRS. One important difference between the CRS and FATCA is that FATCA provides exemptions for certain small accounts (below a U.S. $50,000 threshold) held by individuals while the CRS does not.
How will customers opening accounts at Canadian financial institutions be affected by the CRS?
Effective July 1, 2017, customers opening accounts with a Canadian financial institution generally will be required to provide their tax residency status and tax identification number (“TIN”) for all countries in which they are resident for tax purposes. In addition, applications for accounts held by certain entities may require disclosure of the entity’s individual controlling persons who are tax residents of countries other than Canada.
What is a tax identification number?
This is a number assigned by a country’s tax authority for identification purposes. For example, in Canada, a Social Insurance Number (“SIN”) is a Canadian individual resident’s TIN and, for entities, such as corporations and partnerships, the TIN will be the entity’s Business Number issued by CRA. The OECD has information about TINs for CRS participating countries at: http://www.oecd.org/tax/automatic-exchange/crs-implementation-and-assistance/tax-identification-numbers/
How will existing customers with accounts at Canadian financial institutions be affected by the CRS?
Customers who hold accounts with Canadian financial institutions as at June 30, 2017 may be required to confirm their tax residency status and provide TINs for all countries in which they are a resident for tax purposes. It is expected that most Canadians with existing accounts at Canadian financial institutions will be minimally affected by the CRS, since many will be solely resident in Canada for tax purposes. Customers who are tax residents of other countries will have information on their reportable accounts reported to the CRA.
What if customers do not provide required information about their tax residency?
Canadian financial institutions and their customers will be required by law to comply with the CRS. It is important for customers to respond to requests from financial institutions to provide required information about their tax residency and TINs, even if they are not tax resident outside of Canada. If a customer does not respond, the customer’s financial institution will generally be required to report the account to the CRA.
What if customers are unsure about their tax residency?
Financial institutions cannot provide advice about tax residency rules to customers. It is possible to be a tax resident in more than one country. Customers who are unsure about their tax residency should consult a tax advisor. The OECD has information about tax residency rules for CRS participating countries: http://www.oecd.org/tax/automatic-exchange/crs-implementation-and-assistance/crs-by-jurisdiction/
If a Canadian resident has an account with a financial institution outside Canada, will information be reported to CRA?
If a Canadian resident has a reportable financial account in another country that has agreed to exchange information with Canada, the financial institution in that country will be required to report information to their local tax authority, which will then exchange that information with the CRA.
What information will be shared under the CRS?
If an account is reportable, the CRS requires financial institutions to provide the following information of an account holder to the local tax authority (e.g. CRA):
- Date of birth (for individuals)
- Tax identification number (TIN) (if country issues TINs)
- Country/countries of tax residence
- Account number
- Account balance or value (or the closure of the account)
- Amount of interest, dividends, gross proceeds and other payments made or credited to the account (if applicable).
- Other countries participating in the CRS may require additional information to be reported to their local tax authorities (such as the account holder’s place of birth).
Disclaimer: None of the information here is intended to serve as tax or legal advice. Please consult the CRA or a tax specialist if you have any questions.