Registering for a Business Number and My Business Account with the Canada Revenue Agency: Step-by-Step Guide

Registering for a Business Number and My Business Account with the Canada Revenue Agency: Step-by-Step Guide

Sebastien Prost, CPA

Registering with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is a critical step for individuals and businesses to stay compliant with Canadian tax laws. It involves a straightforward process that begins with understanding your fiscal responsibilities and how they intertwine with various CRA services. To avoid common pitfalls and ensure a smooth registration experience, it’s important to know what documentation is required and the steps involved in creating a CRA My Business Account.

The process includes applying for business numbers and accounts specific to your business structure and industry, which are necessary for tax filing and remittance. It’s also essential to review registration requirements meticulously to ensure all relevant accounts—such as GST/HST, payroll, and import/export—are accounted for, depending on your business activities. Keeping accurate records and understanding ongoing compliance needs will prevent future complications. Should questions arise, the CRA provides resources and support for businesses to facilitate the registration process and maintain good standing.

Key Takeaways

  • Registering with the CRA ensures compliance with tax obligations.
  • Accurate documentation and understanding the registration steps are crucial.
  • Ongoing maintenance of business accounts is needed for continued compliance.

Understanding the CRA Registration Process

The registration process with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is crucial for compliance and access to various tax-related services. The reader must understand eligibility and the importance of business structuring in this context.

Eligibility Criteria

To access CRA sign-in services, individuals must meet specific conditions. New users must first register for a CRA user ID. The verification process may include waiting for a CRA security code to be mailed, which could take up to 10 business days. For existing users recovering their profile, a linkage of the new user ID with the existing candidate profile is necessary.

Determine Your Business Structure

Business owners must clarify their business structure before engaging with CRA’s electronic services. The business structure impacts taxation and dictates the registration requirements. Common types include:

  • Sole Proprietorship: A single individual’s business.
  • Partnership: A business run by multiple individuals.
  • Corporation: A separate legal entity owned by shareholders.

Each structure will have different implications for registration, tax filing, and benefits eligibility.

Gathering Necessary Documentation

When registering with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), an individual or business must prepare all the required documents. The process is streamlined when one has all the necessary information readily available.

Personal Identification

For personal identification, the individual needs to have their Social Insurance Number (SIN) ready. Additionally, the date of birth for themselves, their spouse, and any dependents should be documented. If they are representing a business or acting as an employee, they need to also register for the appropriate online service, like “My Business Account” or “Represent a Client”.

Business Information

Business owners must provide specific details about their enterprise. This includes the Business Number (BN) and the type of tax services their business requires, such as GST/HST, payroll, or corporate income tax. Business information is fundamental for setting up “My Business Account”.

Creating a CRA My Business Account

Creating a CRA My Business Account is a critical step for Canadian business owners to manage their tax-related information. This process includes a few specific steps to register, followed by a verification process to ensure secure access to the account.

Registration Steps

  1. Visit the CRA Website: Start by navigating to the Canada Revenue Agency’s official website.
  2. Select ‘My Business Account’: Choose the ‘My Business Account’ option for GST/HST, payroll, corporation income taxes, and other levies.
  3. CRA User ID: If you already a CRA user ID for My Account, you should be able to sign in using that information along with your Business Number (BN). Otherwise, you will need to register for one through the following steps.
  4. Identification: Provide the required information, which includes Social Insurance Number (SIN), date of birth and line 15000 of your previous year’s tax return.
  5. Follow The On-Screen Instructions: Complete the prompted fields, which will include personal information to confirm the identity of the individual creating the account.

Account Verification

  • CRA Security Code: Once the initial setup is complete, wait for a physical CRA security code to be mailed to the business address, which may take up to 10 business days.
  • Finalizing Setup: After the security code is received, return to the CRA website to enter the code and fully activate the My Business Account.

Applying for Business Numbers and Accounts

Obtaining a Business Number (BN) is the first step for registering a business with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Program accounts are additional registrations tied to the BN for specific business activities.

Business Number Registration

A Business Number (BN) is a 9-digit identifier issued by the CRA to integrate a business into the federal tax system. Businesses can apply for a BN online through Business Registration Online (BRO), by phone at 1-800-959-5525, by mail, or by fax. Applicants must provide basic information about their business, including the legal name, physical and mailing addresses, and the date the business started.

Steps to register for a BN:

  1. Determine eligibility and necessity for a BN.
  2. Prepare information required by Form RC1, “Request for a Business Number.”
  3. Choose a registration method: online, by phone, mail, or fax.
  4. Complete the registration process with the CRA.
  5. Receive a 9-digit Business Number.

Program Account Registration

After obtaining a BN, businesses may need to register for one or more CRA program accounts. These accounts correspond to various tax obligations and business activities, such as GST/HST (RT), payroll (RP), import/export (RD), information returns (RZ) and corporate income tax (RC).

Common CRA program accounts include:

  • GST/HST account: For businesses that collect Goods and Services Tax (GST) or Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).
  • Payroll account: For businesses with employees, to deduct and remit income tax, CPP contributions, and EI premiums.
  • Import/Export account: For businesses that import goods into Canada or export goods to other countries.
  • Information returns: For business tax pay dividends and have to issue T5 slips for example.
  • Corporate income tax account: For corporations operating in Canada to manage their corporate tax requirements.

To register for program accounts:

  1. Identify the specific program accounts needed for your business activities.
  2. Complete the relevant sections of Form RC1, or register through the BRO service.
  3. Submit your registration via selected method.
  4. Receive individual account numbers for each program tied to your BN.

Reviewing Registration Requirements

When registering with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), it’s crucial to understand the requirements that pertain to your specific industry and geographical location within Canada.

Industry-Specific Obligations

Individuals and businesses must identify their industry type, as some sectors have unique tax implications and registration requirements. For example, importers/exporters may need to register for an import-export account, whereas corporations dealing in goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) are mandated to obtain a GST/HST number.

  • For business owners: If you deal in GST/HST, payroll, or corporate income tax, a Business Number (BN) is needed.
  • For employees or representatives acting on behalf of a business: A different set of procedures for logging into ‘Represent a Client’ must be followed.

Provincial and Territorial Considerations

Businesses must be attentive to the varying tax legislations across Canada’s provinces and territories. For instance:

  • In Quebec: Register with Revenu Québec for QST.
  • In British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan: A separate PST number is required.

The registration process may involve different steps or additional forms specific to a province or territory. It’s essential for businesses to check province-specific guidelines to ensure full compliance with local tax laws.

Maintaining Compliance

To ensure uninterrupted operations and avoid penalties, businesses must adhere to the Canada Revenue Agency’s compliance regulations. This entails timely reporting and precise record-keeping.

Ongoing Reporting Responsibilities

Businesses must:

Failure to comply with the CRA’s reporting schedule could result in severe penalties.

Record Keeping Obligations

Record keeping must be:

  • Accurate and complete, providing a clear picture of the business’s income and expenditures.
  • Retained for a minimum of six years from the end of the last tax year they relate to.

Proper records support the amounts declared and deductions or credits claimed and are essential during CRA audits.

Getting Help with Registration

When registering with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), it’s crucial to understand the various support channels available. Whether one needs step-by-step guidance or has specific inquiries, the CRA offers multiple ways to get assistance.

CRA Support Channels

The Canada Revenue Agency provides several support channels to assist with registration:

  • Telephone Support: For direct assistance, calling the Business Enquiries line at 1-800-959-5525 can provide answers to questions and guidance through the process.
  • Online Instructions: Detailed instructions for registration are available online on the CRA website during the sign-up process.
  • Mail: Upon request, the CRA can mail a security code that is part of the registration process. This code typically arrives within 10 business days.
  • FAQs and Online Resources: The CRA website hosts a wealth of resources like frequently asked questions and step-by-step guides.

Professional Tax Advisors

  • Hiring a Professional: Engaging with professional tax advisors or accountants can simplify the registration process. They possess in-depth knowledge of CRA requirements and can ensure accuracy in the application.
  • Authorized Representatives: In some cases, a business owner may choose to have a representative handle their tax matters. The representative can register and act on their behalf through the Represent a Client service.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, the reader will find concise and relevant answers to common queries related to registering with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). These answers will guide individuals and businesses through their initial interactions with the CRA, ensuring compliance with Canadian tax laws.

What documents are required for registering with the Canada Revenue Agency?

To register with the CRA, individuals need their social insurance number (SIN) and may also need documents relating to their business structure if registering a business. It’s important to follow the online instructions during the registration process.

How does a small business qualify for tax purposes in Canada?

A small business qualifies for tax purposes in Canada by meeting the definition of a business under the Income Tax Act. This typically involves engaging in an activity for profit and being able to provide supporting documents if requested by the CRA.

What steps are involved in filing my first tax return in Canada?

When filing a first tax return in Canada, the steps involve gathering all tax-related documents, including income statements and receipts for deductions and credits. The individual must then complete the appropriate tax forms or utilize tax software and submit the return to the CRA by the deadline, typically April 30.

Who is obligated to register for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Canada?

Businesses that provide taxable goods and services in Canada and have worldwide gross revenue greater than $30,000 in the last four consecutive calendar quarters are obligated to register for the GST. Smaller suppliers may register voluntarily.

What is the process to register for CRA’s My Account service?

To register for CRA’s My Account service, individuals need their SIN, date of birth, postal code, and amount entered on a line of a previously filed tax return. They can follow the instructions provided online and, if needed, may have to wait for a CRA security code to be mailed for access.

What needs to be considered when filing small business taxes for the first time in Canada?

When filing small business taxes for the first time, it is crucial to understand the business structure, maintain accurate financial records, be aware of filing deadlines, and know which expenses are deductible. The business may also need to register for a Business Number and be aware of additional filing requirements.

Sebastien Prost, CPA

Written by Sebastien Prost, CPA

Seb Prost, a CPA with over 10 years of experience in taxation and accounting, offers a unique blend of insights from his time at the CRA and his experience in public practice. Originally from QC and now based in Nelson, BC, he specializes in guiding Canadian startups, SaaS companies and other online businesses for all of their accounting and taxation needs.

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