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Refund maze

PST Refund Applications for Indian Bands

Recent policy changes within the Consumer Taxation Branch (CTB) are coming into play, and they are not to the benefit of the claimants. We’ve seen an increasing trend of tightening the rules and processes for PST refund applications.

At the time of this post, we’ve filed about 250 PST refunds applications on behalf of various Indian Band clients in BC. We’ve seen a lot of changes, the most dramatic since the PST came back to replace the HST that was revered due to the referendum in 2013.

One recent change is related to the name of the claimant on the application form. In the past, the CTB would accept names on the applications as long as they were the operating names (or close to) of the Indian Bands that were exempt from tax. For example, “XYZ First Nation” may be an Indian Band operating under that name, however INAC publicly recognizes ( them as simple “XYZ” (no “First Nation” attached).

Therefore, the CTB requires the application to be in the name of the claimant, which must be only “XYZ”. Here’s the thing – CTB takes the position that “XYZ First Nation” is not eligible for a refund, as they are not an Indian Band, regardless of the fact that “XYZ First Nation” is the same entity as XYZ – there are not 2 organizations, they are the same. Common sense does not prevail here.

Now, it gets more complicated if you include the CRA business number (which turns out to be optional, but is actually not indicated as optional at this time) of XYZ First Nation on the application form. This is because the CTB may request a new application to be submitted under the name XYZ (which is appreciated rather than simply denying the claim), which you may do to rectify the problem, but then they take the position that the CRA business number on the application form does not match that of XYZ (it matches XYZ First Nation). Therefore, the application must be submitted again. Lastly, don’t forget to include the unchanged second page of the updated application form, as it’s apparent that the CTB cannot accept just the amended application page, they require the complete application resubmitted. This is because the literally close the file on the original refund application, and re-open a new one.

This is one of many examples of the difficulties Indian Bands go through to obtain a refund for tax that was paid in error in the first place. We will include more examples in future blog posts. And it’s not getting easier.

If you are an Indian Band looking to obtain a PST Refund for tax paid in error, please get in touch with us and realize the value that can be created working with a tax recovery specialist.