Operating a business? Why you may need a business number

For those operating a business, business services and consultancy firm For Business Sake in Hamilton explains under what criteria you may need a business number (BN).

A business number (BN) is a nine-digit number assigned to registered businesses to help simplify dealings with federal, provincial, and municipal governments in Canada — but not all businesses have or require a business number.

A business requires a business number only if it has registered for a “program account.” A program account is registered through the Canada Revenue Agency for specific programs such as for payroll deductions, corporate income tax, and the GST/HST. As a business grows or changes, that business might need to register for more program accounts, but only one business number is ever required for the business. If your business has dealings with the government for one or more program accounts, a BN is required. But a BN is not required if you do not need a program account.

Here’s an example: If you start a new business, such as a sole proprietorship, and you are not hiring employees and also do not need to register for the GST/HST, then such a business would not require a program account and would also not need a BN.

But, if that same business grows and now does need to register for the GST/HST, that business would need to register for the GST/HST program account. In this scenario, the business will also now receive a BN. Further to this, if, due to the growth of this business, employees are hired, the business would also be required to register for the payroll deductions program account. Since the business will now already have a BN, another BN would not be assigned; the payroll deductions program account would link to the existing BN.

In the event you transfer legal ownership of your business, or if your business structure changes, you may be required to apply for a new BN. In this case, the Canada Revenue Agency provides online information for changing your business status.

The Canada Revenue Agency also provides information to help you determine if you need a business number or a program account.

For further information about business regulations and tax matters for your business, For Business Sake is a Hamilton-based management and financial resource company that helps small businesses by providing accounting services and a line of other expert business services that includes consultancy.

Contact For Business Sake by calling 905-297-1755 or by emailing claude@forbusinesssake.ca. For Business Sake is located at 969 Upper Ottawa Street, Unit 7, in Hamilton.

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