As a reminder, the 10% federal tax on certain cross-border insurance premiums is due April 30, 2021. Businesses that have purchased insurance coverage from insurers outside Canada in 2020, or businesses with insurance coverage from a global insurance policy that an affiliated company acquired in 2020 from insurers outside Canada may be required to self-assess and remit the 10% tax. This federal tax is distinct from the provincial sales tax (PST) liabilities and insurance premium taxes that businesses may also face throughout the year if they have bought insurance coverage from insurers that are not licensed in certain provinces where they operate.
Businesses should remember that the 10% federal tax and PST may also apply to insurance coverage purchased over electronic distribution platforms from insurers outside Canada or insurers that are not registered in the particular province.
Federal tax on insurance premiums
Entities, including corporations, resident or carrying on business in Canada, may be subject to the 10% federal tax on certain insurance premiums paid or payable during the preceding calendar year.
This 10% federal tax generally applies where a business or individual purchases cross-border insurance coverage for risks in Canada directly, or where the coverage is obtained on their behalf by a third party. For example, a corporation in Canada may be liable for tax on cross-border insurance if its parent company has acquired global insurance (including excess layers) outside of Canada on behalf of the entire corporate group. This tax may also apply where a business has insurance coverage with an insurer (including any exchange) licensed in Canada, but where the broker or agent is outside Canada.
In general, the 10% federal tax on cross-border insurance does not apply to certain types of insurance, such as life insurance, sickness or personal accident insurance and insurance against marine risks. The CRA may also provide relief to a business that can demonstrate that the particular type of insurance is effectively unavailable in Canada.
To qualify for this exemption, the business must apply to the CRA and provide specific information and supporting documentation, such as five declination letters from authorized Canadian insurance companies to support their claim.
General reminder — PST & insurance premium taxes
Throughout the year, businesses may also face provincial tax liabilities if they have bought insurance coverage from insurers not registered in a particular province.
Provinces with PST on certain insurance contracts
Currently, five provinces apply PST to certain insurance contracts (Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador). Similar to the federal rules, a business that enters into contracts with insurers that are not registered in those provinces may be required to self-assess PST on the related insurance premiums. Otherwise, a business may face significant penalties for non-compliance. For example, Quebec can impose a penalty equal to 200% of the tax amount.
Insurance sold through electronic distribution platforms may also be subject to specific PST rules. For example, Saskatchewan has specific rules for electronic distribution platforms which may require certain unlicensed insurers and marketplace facilitators to be registered and collect PST. Under these rules, insurers located outside of province and marketplace facilitators may be required to register with the province and collect PST on retail sales of contracts of insurance made or facilitated through an electronic distribution platform, even where they have no presence in that province and are not carrying on business there.
Provincial insurance premium taxes and levies
Businesses may also be liable for provincial insurance premium taxes or special levies as the insured person if the coverage is in a territory or a province where the insurer is not licensed (otherwise, the insurer is generally liable for these taxes). In some cases, the business may be required to pay an increased levy on some of these premiums. For example, Alberta imposes a levy of up to 50% of the premiums, and up to 75% of the premiums if the tax is paid late.
Note that some provinces also make it a statutory offence to obtain insurance coverage for risks in the province from unlicensed insurers, unless the coverage is obtained through a "special broker." As such, businesses should obtain legal advice prior to filing returns for taxes and special levies.
The PST and insurance premium tax rates, rules and remittance deadlines vary by province.
We can help
For more information, please contact your KPMG adviser or one of the following Indirect Tax professionals:
Walter Sisti, National Leader - Indirect Tax Services
Information is current to April 5, 2021. The information contained in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act upon such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation. For more information, contact KPMG's National Tax Centre at 416.777.8500