On April 30, 2015, Bill 12: the Common Business Number Act (the
“Act”) came into force in Alberta. The Act created the
authority for Alberta to adopt the Canada Revenue Agency’s
(“CRA”) Business Number system (“BN”). The
BN is a numbering system that simplifies and streamlines the way
businesses deal with the federal government. It is based on the
idea of one business, one number.
Currently, government programs have different ways of
identifying business clients. Practically speaking, this results in
businesses having to use multiple identifiers when dealing with the
government. For example, businesses are issued distinct
identifiers when they register their business, another when they
open a workers’ compensation account, and yet another when
they obtain a liquor license.
The Common Business Number referred to in the proposed Act is a
unique number already issued by the CRA to every Canadian business
for federal income tax purposes. By adopting the Common Business
Number, businesses will be able to conveniently identify themselves
to participating provincial programs using a single business
This Act is a component of Alberta’s Small Business
Strategy, which is attempting to give small business “a
stronger voice in government, easier access to information,
regulatory guidance, and entrepreneurship support.” It is the
government’s intention to simplify provincial and federal
corporate registration requirements, and expand opportunities to
integrate online services and share information with other
The Act allows Alberta to enter into a formal agreement with the
Canada Revenue Agency to obtain basic information about a
business’s identity: such as its name, date of incorporation,
and contact information.
Some concerns have been raised regarding the scope of the
Alberta business information that may required to be collected and
stored under the new regime. Concern has also been raised
regarding access to such information, and the oversight and
regulation of this broad scheme of information sharing across
Moving forward and Implementation:
This change will likely only affect those businesses that
require a BN under CRA rules, including those that have the
GST/HST program account;
Payroll program account;
Corporate income tax program account;
Import/Export program account; and
Other program accounts.
Implementation of the Common Business Number will be staged. The
next step is the construction of technical infrastructure required
to exchange information with the CRA and other provincial programs.
It is unclear if the information of a company that already has a BN
with the CRA will be automatically provided to the CRA.
Regardless, this represents a significant change in the collection,
maintenance and sharing of business information, and all Alberta
businesses should be mindful of the change when reporting their
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions or GST.
Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, the Canada Pension Plan Act and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions.
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