Government Grants Relief to Importers In the Midst of COVID-19 Crisis:  Deadlines for Payment of Duties and Taxes on Imports Extended

In a move intended to ease the financial burden on the Canadian importer community that has resulted from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the Canadian Government announced today that it would take the extraordinary step of extending the timeframes for the payment of duties and GST on imported products, as well as certain other payments owing to the Canadian Border Services Agency (“CBSA”).

This decision has been set out in further detail in Customs Notice 20-11, published today by the CBSA (the “Notice”). Specifically, the Notice confirms that the deadline for payment of customs duties and GST on regular imports, as well as amounts owing in relation to re-assessments and penalties, is extended to June 30, 2020. Of significance is the fact that this extension also applies in relation to charges on statements of account due April 1, 2020.

Importers should note that the extension does not affect the timeframes for import accounting currently imposed under the Customs Act and Regulations. In other words, importers are still required to engage in their regular reporting activities with the CBSA in accordance with the usual timelines, although the associated duty and GST payments will not be due until June 30, 2020.

This extension was implemented by the Canadian Government under the authority of section 33.7(1) of the Customs Act, which permits the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to extend the payment timelines prescribed in section 10.1 of the Accounting for Imported Goods and Payment of Duties Regulations. Over the past several days, the Canadian importer community has been vocal in its requests for relief from import duties. The significant reduction in business activities resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak has left Canadian businesses with limited liquidity in the face of shrinking revenues. This measure to extend payment deadlines constitutes a significant step towards supporting the importer community as it navigates a challenging business environment.

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