by Marc Weisman of Torkin Manes LLP
The GST/HST Web Registry (www.cra.gc.ca/gsthstregistry) was first announced in the Federal Budget of February 23, 2005, and is authorized pursuant to subsection 295(6.1) of the Excise Tax Act (Canada) (the “ETA”).
The purpose for the Registry is to allow one to check whether a person (including a corporation, partnership, trust etc.) is registered for GST/HST. As long as one has the person’s full name as registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (the “CRA”) and their GST/HST registration number, a GST/HST verification can be made. The Registry can be used by: a purchaser, that intends to claim input tax credits on the purchase of goods and services, to ensure that the GST/HST registration number on a vendor’s invoice is valid (see subsection 169(4) of the ETA); and a vendor of commercial real estate that does not intend to collect GST/HST from a purchaser if the latter is GST/HST-registered (see paragraph 221(2)(b) of the ETA).
Unfortunately, many users of the Web Registry are not aware of the fact that using the Registry is not without caution.