Everything You Need to Know about Non-Resident Tax

In this video blog, I discuss the procedures and government requirements for non-resident tax on investment property.
Meet the Accounting and Admin people at the Downtown Suites office, as they have just finished the Non-Resident Tax information for the month.
About Non-Resident Tax

It’s quite a complicated procedure that the government requires: first of all a non-resident must have an ITN number which is very similar to a resident of Canada’s social insurance number. That became a requirement at the beginning of January 2006.

So the first step is actually applying for the ITN number, which we would help you do – we have the forms in the office. We’ll have you sign them and then we remit them for you. Once you’ve been given an ITN number, the next requirement is to go ahead and file the NR-6 form. For this we estimate what the revenue from the property will be throughout the year, and what the expenses would be – such as insurance costs, management fees, strata fees, taxes, maybe a vacancy allowance. We compute all of this and derive either a net positive income or a negative income. If there is a negative income, of course there is no tax to pay, but if it is into the positive, then you are required to pay 25% of the net income to the Canadian government.

So once we’ve arrived at the net income, we then submit that to Ottawa, the capital of Canada, and they either approve it or disapprove it. Most of the time they seem to approve it, and once the figures are approved, we are issued with a non-resident tax number for you.

When we have this non-resident tax number, we then remit to the government each month 25% of the net income. We charge a very small fee to do all of this work, which is $150 for the year. Physically we actually go to Revenue Canada on a monthly basis, to their head office here in Vancouver, at 1166 West Pender, and, as I say, we help with all the forms, and send out monthly forms to the government as well as forms to the owners.

On an annual basis, we’re required to file what is known as an NR-4. If you’re a Canadian, when you have your income you get a T-4. If you’re a non-resident, you get an NR-4. That’s a statement of your rental income, as you have to file income tax. It’s very important that this procedure be followed, because as your agents in Canada, we have a lot of responsibilities. One of them is that if you don’t pay your taxes, we are required to pay your taxes. However, we can help you to get this done, and we can point you to various accountants and professionals who can help you do that. It would be a conflict of interest for us to actually file your taxes for you.

Just on a warning note, I’ve had the revenue people in my office, for some clients who came to me after they had been dealing with some other management companies who hadn’t been quite as diligent as we are in ensuring that all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. This one unfortunate client had owned a property for five years, she had never been to Canada. She bought it in Singapore. She wasn’t from Singapore, but was from another Commonwealth country. She owned the property, her husband had left her, she had had a bad tenant, had a flood in the suite – the result was that she’d lost thousands and thousands of dollars. In addition, she hadn’t filed the NR-6 form with the government.

Consequently, the government agent’s position when he came into my office was that she’d owned the suite for 5, maybe 6 years, and therefore she owed 25% of the gross income. In this instance, that was in excess of $40,000. And when I said, “This woman has had so much hardship,” and I explained that her husband had left her, her tenants have been bad, she’s had assessments, the carpet had been ruined by the tenant, etc. He just looked at me and shook his head and said, “We don’t care about that. She didn’t file her form. She owes her taxes. She hasn’t paid taxes and hasn’t gone through proper procedures.” So it was out of our hands. I believe there was some negotiation, that I wasn’t privy to. But nevertheless, they do take a very hard stance on it, and if they do deem that you owe non-resident tax and you haven’t paid your taxes, they can be very strict. And as I said, they will then penalize you 25% of the gross. Whether they can actually charge you a penalty on top of that I’m not sure, but it’s definitely worth being very cautious about.

(Originally posted March 19, 2007)