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Rob Kreklewetz & John Bassindale

Rob Kreklewetz & John Bassindale

Rob Kreklewetz & John Bassindale has not set their biography yet

Canadian energy traders often misunderstand their tax collection obligations for the GST/HST and other sales taxes.

The issue may relate to a 2014 administrative decision by the CRA to begin to take a very restrictive approach to the application of section 144 of the Excise Tax Act (ETA), and a very broad approach to other deeming provisions in the ETA, which has arguably changed how the GST/HST applies to many Canadian energy transactions.

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The Ontario Ministry of Finance continues to turn the Ontario tobacco industry upside down – continuing to assess companies for failure to collect the Ontario Provincial Tobacco Tax (PTT) on sales of cigars and other non-cigarette tobacco (loose tobacco, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff, etc.) to Status Indians on Federal Indian reserves.

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Over the past several years, the CRA Audit Division has directed more attention to businesses that use Employment Agencies for their staffing needs. We understand that many businesses dealing with Employment Agencies, Temporary Labour, Staffing Agencies, or other similar entities, have already been contacted by CRA Auditors looking to confirm their eligibility for Input Tax Credits (ITCs).

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With all of the concerns that businesses engaged in the import/export of products in the United States and Canada face (increased global competition, currency fluctuations and product quality), one of the least considered but most important involves the often confusing world of customs compliance.

While it is inevitable that errors or omissions may occur in customs compliance, errors can be expensive. To avoid customs assessments, and attendant interest and penalties (not to mention potential prosecution), constant vigilance of one's customs obligations is required.

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Whenever a person imports commercial goods into Canada they are required to pay the GST at the border at the time of importation pursuant to Division III of Part IX of the Excise Tax Act (the “ETA”).   This GST rate is currently set at 5%. 

Those who are insufficiently familiar with Canada’s GST/HST system may find themselves treating this tax as a hard cost, or charging the GST/HST to Canadian customers and then keeping it as a form of reimbursement for the tax previously paid at the border.  Neither approach is correct.  

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In the recent case of Club Intrawest v. Her Majesty the Queen (2017 FCA 151), the Federal Court of Appeal (the "FCA") was faced with a unique fact pattern not contemplated by the legislation. In dealing with this unusual situation, the FCA did what common law courts do best, and improvised a solution which it considered both fair and legally justifiable. In the process, the FCA has introduced a new gloss on the common law "single versus multiple supply analysis" and held that even where a recipient is only charged a single amount of consideration, a court may nevertheless find that there were two separate supplies, each with different tax treatment.

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The Customs Act requires corrections of errors in import declarations – such as a tariff classification, country of origin, or value for duty.  Each correction requires the filing of a form B2 adjustment request, which can be an onerous task when multiple corrections are required. The CBSA has an administrative practice that streamlines the procedure for authorized importers by allowing them to file a single blanket adjustment request - a single form with an attached spreadsheet - to process multiple corrections with one form.  However, the CITT decision in Worldpac Canada (AP-2014-021) shows that administrative practice does not have the force of law and a taxpayer’s reliance thereon involves risk. 

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In Fairmont Hotels Inc. (2016 SCC 56) and Jean Coutu Group (2016 SCC 55) the Supreme Court of Canada (the “SCC”) clarified the law of rectification.  The result might be disappointing for taxpayers and tax practitioners alike, yet the decisions bring Ontario back in line with the rest of Canada by establishing that an application for rectification refer to a detailed intention. 

 

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Whether or not a supply is a financial service is a significant issue for suppliers because suppliers of financial services are unable to claim ITCs for the GST/HST they pay on their inputs. Accordingly, financial service providers scrutinize their own suppliers carefully to ensure they are only paying GST/HST where appropriate.

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Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) has been making the headlines for the past year as a result of significant interest in potential sales to energy-hungry Asian markets from the coast of British Columbia. There are at least 19 LNG proposals for British Columbia, but so far none of the proponents have commenced construction.

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January 1, 2015 was a big day for changes in the General Preferential Tariff (the "GPT").  On that day, Canada removed 72 countries from the list of nations that benefited from the GPT.  Most notable among the list of countries removed from the GPT was China, an exporting superpower, but other significant countries on the list include Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa, and Turkey.  The full list is provided at the bottom of this page.

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In a recently released GST/HST ruling, CRA seems to place a high bar on the exempt treatment of administrative services acquired by an Insurance Company in operating its insurance business.  In RITS 154220 (Application of GST/HST to Insurance-related Administrative Services), the CRA effectively takes the view that virtually all administrative services acquired by an insurer are viewed by CRA as excluded from the financial services exemption, and therefore taxable for GST/HST purposes.

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Posted by on in Tax Law

An undisclosed agency exists if an agent enters into a contract with a third party on behalf of a principal, but does not reveal to the third party either the identity of the principal or the fact that the agent is acting on behalf of any principal.

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On October 18, 2013 the Prime Minister of Canada announced that Canada had reached an agreement in principle for a “Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement” (CETA) with the European Union. While not yet in force, and expected to take upwards of two years to be translated and ratified by all 28 EU member states and the European Parliament, the Agreement has generated a lot of excitement about the EU – already Canada’s second biggest trading partner behind the US.

What many businesspeople do not realize is that Canada already has a Free Trade Agreement with a group of European countries – The Canada-European Free Trade Association Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA).

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Like many areas of law, in customs valuation there are cases that represent so-called high and low water marks – cases that represent the extremes of possible outcomes, given a set of facts. Every once in a while, a case comes along that moves these marks around – often surprising practitioners. The recent case of Skechers USA Canada Inc. v. CBSA is one of those cases, and the decision of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (the “CITT”) has caught the attention of many practitioners.

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The CRA's treatment of "bare trusts" has been problematic from the first days of the GST.

When the GST was first implemented in January 1991, the CRA was initially advising bare trustees of bare trusts (trusts that operating at the behest of their beneficiaries, and where the trustee has no independent authority other than following express directions of the beneficiaries) that it was the bare trustee that was viewed as the supplier for GST purposes, and the person required to register for GST purposes. This position was changed in mid-1992, when the CRA flipping its position, and now advising that bare trustees were not allowed to register, and that the beneficiaries of these bare trusts were the one's required to register.

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Directors often ask about creditor-proofing personal assets when facing a possible assessments for "Director's Liability" under Canada's income tax and GST legislation. That question usually follows the director's first understanding that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has special powers in both the Income Tax Act (ITA) and the Excise Tax Act (ETA) to assess a director where a corporation leaves behind unpaid income tax or GST debts, and to realize on (seize) a director's personal assets (e.g,, homes, cottages, cars, monetary savings) to satisfy those debts. (These rules are more specifically found in section 227.1 of the ITA and section 323 of the ETA, and is almost identical.)

Also surprising most directors are special rules in the ITA and ETA allowing the CRA to attack transfers of a director's personal assets to non-arm's-length parties (e.g. wives, children, siblings, parents, etc.) where the value paid by the relatives is less than the fair-market value of the property being transferred. (These rules are found in subsection 160(1) of the ITA and section 325 of the ETA, and are also fairly similar.)

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Generally input tax credits (ITCs) can be claimed if a property or service is acquired for consumption, use, or supply in the course of a GST registrant’s commercial activities. The presence or absence of consideration does not appear to be critical to the finding of a supply as defined under the ETA. However, the FCA in Lyncorp International Ltd. (2011 FCA 352) concluded that ITCs cannot be claimed for GST paid on inputs acquired in providing free management and consulting services to related companies.

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What is really required for GST ITC Claims?

For more years that we can remember, “ITC Documentation” has been a “Top 10” Audit Issue with Canada Revenue Agency GST Audits. This is a reference to the evidentiary requirements imposed by ss. 169(4) of the Excise Tax Act (ETA) and the Input Tax Credit Information (GST/HST) Regulations (the “ITC Regulations”) which the CRA has been prone to interpret as a “documentation requirement”, reviewing and disallowing ITCs claimed for “lack of required documentation”.

The law in this area is fortunately changing, with a recent decision of the Tax Court of Canada (TCC) Forestech Industries v. The Queen. (2009 TCC 591) providing a helpful review on the actual requirements of subsection 169(4) -- which pointedly are not exactly what many CRA auditors would have taxpayers believe.

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Both the “Large Corporation rules” in the Income Tax Act (the “ITA”) and the “Specified Person rules” under the Excise Tax Act (the “ETA”) are probably unfamiliar to most people other than experience tax practitioners.  However, they can impact the ability of large corporations to properly appeal income tax and GST issues, since if they are not complied with - to the letter - the government will take steps towards barring the taxapyer from further appealing the matter beyond the Canada Revenue Agency's Appeals Process. 

Generally, the overall effect of these provisions is to attempt to prevent a Specified Person (or a Large Corporation) from appealing to the Tax Court of Canada where the Notice of Objection does not contain certain required pieces of information.

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