Obtaining a Business Number

You will need to obtain a Business Number (BN) when you open your new law office. A BN is assigned the first time you register with any participating program in Alberta. In Alberta, your first point of contact will likely be the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for registering any of the following:

  • payroll account for employee deductions (for income tax, CPP and EI),
  • Goods and Service tax (or GST),
  • corporate income tax account (only if you practise through a professional corporation).

The CRA website contains useful information on many income tax, GST, CPP and EI topics, as well as details on who must register and how to register. You can contact CRA either by calling 1.800.959.5525 or through their website.

The first program that you register with will provide you with a BN. The BN is a unique government numbering system that identifies your business and the various accounts you maintain. The BN consists of:

  • a nine-digit registration number that identifies your business -this number will stay the same for all the programs with which you register,
  • two letters for the type of account - for example, the letters RP will be used when you register for the CRA payroll accounts and RT when you register with GST and
  • four numbers for the specific account reference - for example, if you have two payroll accounts, the BNs will end with 0001 and 0002.

For example, a BN for a firm that is registered once with GST would look like: 123456789 RT 0001.

The same firm that is registered twice for Federal payroll deductions would have two accounts: 123456789 RP 0001 and 123456789 RP 0002.

See Do You Need a Business Number? and Registering Your Business both by the Canada Revenue Agency.

This Module does not address tax issues related to a lawyer's personal income or law corporation income. However, for a very useful checklist on incorporation of your legal practice to ensure it is recognized for tax purposes, see How Lawyers Organize Their Professional Businesses. This article is part of the Start-Up Kit, a free resource available from the Law Society. Read the Start-Up Kit here. 

Last modified: Monday, 21 August 2023, 11:39 AM