Conquering the HST Audit Challenge


In the realm of Canadian tax compliance, businesses often face the intricate landscape of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) conducts audits to ensure businesses follow the rules and guidelines. This case study illuminates how SDG Accountants expertly navigated a demanding HST audit on behalf of XYZ Transport Inc., skillfully resolving substantial Input Tax Credit (ITC) challenges. The narrative delves into the nuances of the audit process, highlighting a strategic and methodical approach that led to noteworthy financial savings.

The Challenge:

In the early months of 2023, XYZ Transport Inc., a respected player in the trucking industry, received a notice from the CRA, indicating a forthcoming HST audit. This notification left our client with a substantial challenge, as the CRA had called into question over $120,000 in ITC claims. These challenges raised concerns regarding potential liabilities and financial impacts. To address this substantial challenge, XYZ Transport Inc. enlisted the expertise of SDG Accountants on February 5, 2023.

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Understanding the Audit Letters:

The audit process began with a meticulous examination of the CRA audit notification. This examination unveiled the objectives and requirements of the audit, offering insight into the complexity of the impending challenge. The audit notification specified several areas of focus, including:

  1. A detailed description of business activities: The CRA requested a comprehensive summary of the client’s taxable and non-taxable revenues, aiming to gain a thorough understanding of the nature of operations.
  2. Gross sales listing and GST/HST collection breakdown: The audit letter demanded a detailed listing of gross sales for the specified period. Each entry was to include the invoice date, customer name, sale amount, and GST/HST collected or collectible. The listings were to demonstrate total sales and total GST/HST collected/collectible. Any discrepancies were to be explained.
  3. Supporting documents for major invoices: Copies of the ten largest invoices, each issued to different customers, were requested. The CRA sought to verify the accuracy of these invoices against the recorded amounts in the gross sales listing.
  4. Detailed listing of Input Tax Credits (ITCs): For ITC claims, the CRA requested a detailed listing of each purchase. This listing was to include the invoice date, supplier name, description of goods or services, and the amount of GST/HST paid or payable. The total GST/HST paid or payable for the period was to be included, with explanations for any discrepancies.
  5. Documentation for ITCs on vehicle expenses: If ITCs were claimed on vehicle expenses, the CRA asked for complete copies of registration and insurance documents, mileage logs, and a description of how the vehicles were utilized in business activities. This was to include the percentage of business and personal use.
  6. Submission of profit and loss statement: The audit letter also called for the submission of a profit and loss statement for the audited period.

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Dealing with the Audit:

SDG Accountants responded systematically to address the audit challenges. The approach involved several key steps:

  1. Data Collection: Our team collaborated closely with the client to gather a comprehensive set of financial records, HST filings, invoices, and receipts. Particular emphasis was placed on documenting expenses exceeding $3,000.
  2. Data Organization: To facilitate a structured and detailed response, we meticulously organized the collected data. Detailed Excel files were prepared to address the CRA’s queries. Each entry was supplemented with an explanation to provide context and clarity.
  3. Data Analysis: A rigorous analysis of the collected data was conducted to rectify any discrepancies, errors, or inconsistencies. This was instrumental in preparing a compelling response.
  4. Timely Submission: The comprehensive response was submitted to the CRA on February 9, 2023, well before the stipulated deadline. This early submission underscored the client’s commitment to cooperation and transparency.

Responding to CRA's Queries:

SDG Accountants responded systematically to address the audit challenges. The approach involved several key steps:


At the close of the audit, the results were both substantial and quantifiable. XYZ Transport Inc. successfully saved $114,000 of the initially contested $120,000 in ITCs. This remarkable outcome showcases the importance of professional expertise and comprehensive documentation in managing complex tax audits.

  • Remarkable Financial Savings: Through a methodical and strategic approach, SDG Accountants enabled our client to reclaim $114,000 out of the initially contested $120,000 in ITCs. This significant financial recovery underscores the pivotal role of professional expertise and comprehensive documentation in managing tax audits.
  • The Importance of Document Retention: This successful outcome reinforces the critical necessity of retaining all receipts and documents for at least six years. Robust documentation played a pivotal role in resolving the audit challenges efficiently and delivering substantial savings to our client.

SDG Accountant remains committed to achieving tangible results in tax-related challenges. Contact us for expert guidance, and we will help you navigate tax audits with confidence, ensuring financial compliance and securing your financial affairs. Your success is our mission!

The information is not intended to constitute professional advice and may not be appropriate for a specific individual or fact situation. It is written by the author solely in their personal capacity and cannot be attributed to the accounting firm with which they are affiliated. It is not intended to constitute professional advice, and neither the author nor the firm with which the author is associated shall accept any liability in respect of any reliance on the information contained herein. Readers should always consult with their professional advisors in respect of their particular situations.

Sami Ghaith

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