How to Calculate, File and Pay your GST HST Return in Ontario
If you’re a business with a December 31 year-end that files your GST/HST return quarterly, it’s getting close to the deadline to file your second quarter returns. Businesses are required to file and remit HST returns by the end of the month following the end of the reporting period, so if your filing period is the second quarter then the deadline is July 31. Here are some basic guidelines on how to calculate, file and pay your GST/HST return in Ontario.
Receiving Your GST/HST Return from CRA
Towards the end of your reporting period, you’ll receive a filing information form from CRA. On the front page you’ll see your company name and address in the top right corner, and in the top left corner you’ll find your due date, business number and reporting period, and a little further down you’ll see your access code.
You’ll need all of this information a little later when you NETFILE your tax return, but first you need to find out what the values on your return are.
Calculating Your GST/HST Return Amount
If you use QuickBooks Pro, you’re in luck, because calculating the amounts for your GST/HST tax return is quite easy.
Before you file your return, you have to make sure that you’re caught up on all of your invoicing. This includes invoicing for the products and services that you’ve sold and delivered during the reporting period, as well as entering all of the invoices for the products and services you bought from your suppliers. CRA gives you a month to file your HST/GST after the reporting period ends so you have time to receive and enter the invoices from your suppliers.
The easiest way to find out the values you’ll need to file your GST/HST return in QuickBooks is to run a GST/HST/QST Return Report. You’ll find it under the Sales Tax > Tax Agency Report. Click on the Sales Tax entry on the left side menu and then click on the Tax Agency Report.
This report will include all of the numbers you’ll need to file your GST/HST return.
Filing Your GST/HST Tax Return
With your GST/HST report in hand, it’s time to head over to CRA’s NETFILE website to file your tax return.
The CRA NETFILE website can be found at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/gsthst-netfile/. Once you get there, you’ll see a ‘Ready to File’ button.
Click through the information screen until you get to a screen where you’ll enter all of the information from the GST/HST form that the government sent you, along with the information from your QuickBooks GST/HST report: your business number, reporting period, access code, total sales, GST/HST collected and applicable input tax credits. Once you’ve entered and confirmed all of this information, confirm to file your tax return and you’ll get a printed receipt that you should print or save to your computer.
Paying Your GST/HST Tax Return
If you collected more HST than you paid then you have to remit the difference to CRA. There are a few different ways you can do this.
Most banks allow you to pay your GST/HST return online. You have to set up an account link between your bank and CRA, but this is pretty easy with most online banking portals. If you have this set up you can simply pay the owed balance from your business bank account.
If you can’t pay your HST return through online banking then you can pay it at the bank. Simply take the bottom portion of the last page of the forms that CRA sent you to a teller and tell them which account you want to pay from. They’ll detach the remittance stub and stamp the rest of the form as proof of payment.
The last option is that you can mail a cheque CRA. If you do send a cheque in, make sure you clearly identify what the payment is for because your business might have several accounts with CRA (corporate income tax, HST, payroll, etc.) and if it’s not clearly marked they might apply it against the wrong account and that can be a headache to undo.
How a Bookkeeper Can Help
Calculating, filing and paying your GST/HST return isn’t always straightforward and if it’s not something that you do on a regular basis it can be confusing and intimidating. What’s worse, if you file late or if you have errors in your filing then CRA can impose fines or penalties, and they might even flag your file for an audit.
GST/HST returns are commonplace for a professional bookkeeper, so if it’s something you’re not comfortable doing yourself maybe it’s worthwhile hiring a bookkeeper, even if only on a part-time basis.
For businesses with a December 31 year end that file GST/HST returns quarterly, the deadline for filing for the second quarter is the end of the month. Once you receive the GST/HST electronic filing form from CRA you need to make sure your invoicing is fully up-to-date so you can run an accurate GST/HST/QST Return Report in QuickBooks. Once you have that, head over to CRA’s NETFILE service to file your return, and then make sure you pay if you have an outstanding balance.
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Have Your Say
Trying to figure out how to manage your GST/HST filing this quarter? Which parts of the process are causing you grief? Ever considered getting help from a professional bookkeeper? Leave us a comment and tell us about your experiences. Also, please share this article using the social media share buttons – other people might also be trying to figure out how to deal with their HST tax return and might benefit from this post.