MPs probe officials on ability to collect GST from Netflix, other foreign companies

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OTTAWA — Opposition MPs pressed officials Thursday on how ready they’ll be to start collecting GST on digital sales by foreign companies such as Netflix, Airbnb and Amazon starting next year.

Foreign companies without a physical presence in Canada aren’t currently required to collect the federal goods and services tax, but Ottawa outlined plans to change that in its fiscal update earlier this week.

Senior officials from the Canada Revenue Agency, Finance Department and Canada Border Services Agency said Thursday they are confident they’ll be able to begin collecting GST and HST for cross-border digital sales by July 1, 2021.

CRA chief executive Bob Hamilton told the Standing Committee on Public Accounts that the agency has the resources it needs to meet the deadline.

Hamilton said the CRA will get a “good share” of the GST revenue that should be collected on cross-border sales and then work to close any gaps that it finds.

There were few specific details, but Hamilton and other officials said they’d be able to consult and learn from the OECD, other jurisdictions with similar tax measures and the companies themselves.

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