CALL US TODAY
(416) 864 - 6200
  • Home
  • Recent blog posts

Tax & Trade Blog

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Archives
    Archives Contains a list of blog posts that were created previously.
Recent blog posts

The liberalization of Canada’s trade policies over the years has now lead to a situation where goods may often be capable of being imported to Canada on a duty free basis under Canada’s most favoured nation (MFN) tariff, without needing the benefits of Canada’s various preferential trade agreements (PTAs) like the NAFTA.

A problem arises, however, when after importing such goods on the basis of the MFN tariff, an importer discovers, or is assessed, on the basis that the original tariff classification was incorrect.   The problem specifically arises where, more than one year has passed from the original date of accounting, and the new “correct” tariff classification is duty-positive under MFN.  

In Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) historic view of these situations, an importer is obliged to correct the tariff classification and treatment under s. 32.2(2) of the Customs Act, and pay the required MFN duties owing (with no application of the relevant PTA).  CBSA has historically denied application of PTA benefits in these situations on the basis that PTA refunds are usually limited to one year from accounting: see for example section 74(3)(b)(ii) of the Customs Act.

CBSA’s historic practice has been overturned by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) in the recent decision in Bri-Chem Supply Ltd. v. CBSA ((October 2, 2015) AP-2014-017 (CITT)).

Last modified on
Hits: 3061
0

Rules regarding cost awards and settlement offers are important tools to promote settlement in the context of general civil litigation and are generally seen as an important tool to minimize use of scarce court resources. 

In tax cases, settlement offers have historically tended not to play as important a role, which is perhaps attributable to the fact that tax appeal outcomes tend to be mostly binary in nature (i.e. a complete success or complete failure).  This differs markedly from most other civil litigation where the quantum of damages is often the central contested issue.  Furthermore, Canada’s Tax Court Rules have historically only considered settlement offers as one of many factors to be considered when making a costs award, without setting out more definite implications of settlement offers for awarding costs.

This may be changing under new Tax Court Rules 147(3.1) and (3.2) which grant a party “substantial indemnity” costs after the date of its offer to settle (defined to be 80% of solicitor and client costs in Rule 147(3.5)), if judgment is as or more favourable than the offer. 

Although these rules have recently operated in favour of successful appellant taxpayers (see for example: Sunlife (2015 TCC 171) and Repsol Canada Ltd. (2015 TCC 154))  the TCC’s cost award in Standard Life (2015 TCC 138) serves as a warning to taxpayers that they may be liable for significant costs, where a settlement offer from the Crown has been rejected.

Last modified on
Hits: 1668
0

The issue of single versus multiple supplies in the context of the GST is the subject of frequent litigation.  This is likely attributable to the fairly fact-driven analysis employed by the courts in determining the existence of single or multiple supplies and the arguably subjective nature of the test applied to those facts. 

The recent Tele-Mobile decision (2015 TCC 197) will likely do little to reduce the frequency of this issue coming before the courts; however, it does provide some additional clarity on how the issue should be analyzed.

Last modified on
Hits: 2818
0

Litigating parties must consider cost implications at every stage in litigation, which generally requires a cost-benefit analysis of starting litigation in the first place, proceeding with litigation at any given stage, and negotiating towards settlement.  In tax litigation, the cost-benefit analysis is often the same, and can be a comparatively simple exercise, requiring an analysis of anticipated costs of litigation, chance of success at trial or on appeal, consideration of the assessed amount in dispute, and the effect of a judicial decision on the taxpayer’s position going forward.  Court costs have generally not factored into this analysis, since they have historically been negligible.

Things are changing.

Last modified on
Hits: 2258
0

CRA assessments can have devastating financial consequences that commonly push taxpayers into bankruptcy.  In considering bankruptcy, the taxpayer should take into account the extent to which the bankruptcy will impose limitations on the taxpayer’s ability to contest the assessment itself.  Section 71 of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA) specifies that a bankrupt ceases to have any capacity to deal with its “property”, which is a broadly defined term and has the effect of virtually eliminating the bankrupt’s ability to maintain legal actions.  The extent to which the BIA has a limiting effect on a bankrupt taxpayer’s ability to contest an assessment in the Tax Court of Canada (“TCC”) was at issue in the decision in Schnier (2015 TCC 160).

Last modified on
Hits: 1830
0

In order to maintain some level of taxpayer certainty, there are general time limits applied to CRA’s ability to assess taxpayers for previous periods. The normal assessment period is three years under ITA clause 152(3.1)(b) and four years under ETA subsection 298(1) and ITA clause 152(3.1)(a). However, CRA can assess a taxpayer in respect of a matter at any time where,inter alia, the taxpayer has made a misrepresentation attributable to neglect, carelessness or wilful default in respect of that matter (ITA subclause 152(4)(a)(i); ETA subsection 298(4)(a)). The recent Inwest decision (2015 BCSC 1375) considers what “misrepresentation” actually means in this context, and just when a misrepresentation will be “attributable to neglect or carelessness”.

Last modified on
Hits: 4337
0

Although section 323 of the Excise Tax Act imposes joint and several liability onto the corporate director for a corporation’s failure to remit GST/HST, this liability is negated if the director “exercised the degree of care, diligence and skill to prevent the failure that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in comparable circumstances.”  In order to establish this due diligence defence, a director has to meet a fairly high threshold according to current jurisprudence.  The recent decision of Cherniak (2015 TCC 53), suggests that this defence will be very difficult to meet where the corporation assessed was involved in “artificial” transactions.

Last modified on
Hits: 2926
0

In light of the inherent risks of serving as director of a corporation, business owner-operators may be tempted to appoint their spouse or family member as the sole director of their corporation, despite the fact that that person may be completely uninvolved with or unknowledgeable about the corporation’s operations.  This is primarily done with a view to “creditor-proofing”.  However, as the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) decision of Constantin v. The Queen (2013 FCA 233) illustrates, this strategy is far from invincible when it comes to GST/HST remittances.

Last modified on
Hits: 1703
0

As a general rule in tax litigation, the initial onus is on the appellant-taxpayer to “demolish” the Minister’s assumptions that form the basis of the disputed assessment. This initial onus is met where the appellant makes out at least a prima facie case. If this is done, the burden then shifts to the Minister to prove, on a balance of probabilities, that the assumptions were correct.  The primary reason for this rule is that the taxpayer generally has the best knowledge of his/her own affairs in a self-reporting tax system.

However, the TCC has held that the initial onus may not be on the taxpayer in the context of so-called “derivative assessments” such as assessments against directors pursuant to director’s liability provisions for underlying corporate assessments (ss. 323 ETA and 227.1 ITA) and against transferees pursuant to non-arm’s length transfer rules for underlying assessments against the transferor (ss. 325 ETA and 160(1) ITA).  

Last modified on
Hits: 2896
0

Businesses (other than financial institutions) that provide a mix of both taxable and exempt supplies must utilize the allocation rules found in section 141.01(5) of the Excise Tax Act (ETA) to determine the proper amount of input tax credits (ITCs) to claim in their GST/HST return.  This generally requires that the taxpayer employ a fair and reasonable method to determine the extent to which its inputs are each used in making taxable or exempt supplies.   

The TCC decision in BC Ferry Services (2014 TCC 305) provides a good overview of various aspects of the ITC allocation rules for non-financial institutions. 

Last modified on
Hits: 3164
0

In Skechers v. CBSA (2015 FCA 58), the Federal Court of Appeal (“FCA”) considered a Canadian International Trade Tribunal (“CITT”) decision which applied a broad interpretation of “price paid or payable” for Customs Act valuation purposes, resulting in a significantly higher value for duty for the imported footwear at issue in the case, and with far-reaching implications for all Canadian goods, especially apparel and footwear items.

Last modified on
Hits: 1615
0

Both the Income Tax Act (“ITA”) and the Excise Tax Act (“ETA”) include an increased burden on entities considered “large corporations” or “specified persons”, respectively, when it comes to the level of detail required in a notice of objection.  Specifically, the “large corporation rule” in section 165(1.11) of the ITA requires that a large corporation, inter alia, “reasonably describe each issue to be decided” and “provide facts and reasons relied on by the corporation in respect of each issue” in its notice of objection.  The “specified person rule” in section 301(1.2) of the ETA includes the same requirements.  In each instance, the taxpayer is only allowed to appeal to the tax court in respect of the issues described in its notice of objection that meet the requirements of the large corporation/specified person rule.

Prior to the enactment of these rules, a number of large corporations had their tax years left open through outstanding notices of objection or appeals such that they had been able to raise new issues based on emerging interpretations and court decisions challenged by other taxpayers. The rules were intended to identify disputed issues sooner so that a taxation year's ultimate tax liability can be timely determined, and avoid appeals from dragging on.

Recently, in Ford Motor Company of Canada v. The Queen, 2015 TCC 39, Justice Boyle of the Tax Court of Canada (“TCC”) considered a Crown motion to strike portions of a Notice of Appeal under the ETA on the basis that the issues identified in the Notice of Appeal were not “reasonably described” in the Notice of Objection.  The decision includes a thorough analysis of the existing case law on the rule and a serves as an example of its sound, practical application.

Last modified on
Hits: 2180
0

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.

Last modified on
Hits: 3262
0

Where a business provides both taxable and exempt services, claiming ITCs can become a thorny issue that generally requires an attribution of inputs between the business’ supply of exempt and taxable services.  Section 141.01 of the Excise Tax Act (“ETA”) creates a framework for allocating ITCs for non-financial institutions.  These rules require registrants to allocate ITCs in a manner that is “fair and reasonable”, which predictably leaves significant room for interpretation. 

In the recent decision in Sun Life Assurance Company v. The Queen (2015 TCC 37), the Tax Court of Canada considered whether ITC allocation in respect of leased office space was “fair and reasonable” under section 141.01(5).  The decision is notable for what it says regarding the concept of intention in allocating ITCs for the purposes of section 141.01(5). 

Last modified on
Hits: 2400
0

Although importers have regularly been subject to paying additional customs duties on their imports as a result of subsequent upwards price adjustments, importers had been limited in their ability to obtain a refund or reduction in duties where subsequent downward price adjustments were made.  However, a recent change in Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) policy in light of a 2014 Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) decision now provides importers with an expanded ability to claim reductions in duty in the context of downward price adjustments.

Last modified on
Hits: 1972
0

Determining whether contracts are for the sale of tangible personal property or for provision of services is often of central importance in provinces still levying Provincial Sales Tax (“PST”).  This issue has been the subject of on-going litigation in the context of providing oilfield services to oil and gas exploration companies in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.  A recent case from the British Columbia Court of Appeal (“BCCA”) provides practitioners with increased guidance on how to avoid application of PST on materials used in the provision of oilfield services.  The bottom line still remains:  get advice early and often !

Last modified on
Hits: 3238
0

Whether a notice of assessment was mailed or not has important legal consequences for taxpayers.  There is an irrebuttable presumption of receipt of the notice of assessment by a taxpayer once it is mailed by the Minister (S,248(7)(a) of the Income Tax Act (“ITA”)); a notice of objection must be served on the Minister within 90 days of the date on which the notice of assessment was mailed (s.165(1)); upon receipt of a notice objection, the Minister is obliged to reconsider the assessment and vacate, confirm or vary the assessment or reassess and to notify the taxpayer of its decision (s. 165(3)); and the taxpayer may appeal the assessment to the Tax Court of Canada (“TCC”) if the Minister has not vacated or confirmed the assessment or reassessed within 90 days of receiving the notice of objection (s. 169(1)). Parallel provisions are found in the Excise Tax Act.

Last modified on
Hits: 2353
0

Input Tax Credits (“ITCs”) are typically not available for “holding companies” that exist solely to hold shares or indebtedness of another company due to the fact that taxpayers are only entitled to ITCs in respect of tax paid on property or services acquired in the course of commercial activities. However, section 186(1) of the Excise Tax Act contains a special rule allowing a company to claim ITCs in respect of expenses “that can reasonably be regarded as having been so acquired for consumption or use in relation to shares of the capital stock, or indebtedness, of another corporation that is at that time related to” the company, in certain instances. 

Last modified on
Hits: 4715
0

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.

Last modified on
Hits: 2701
0

In Invesco Canada Ltd. v. The Queen (2014 TCC 375), CRA assessed the taxpayer for GST, arising out an arrangement designed to minimize income tax.  Specifically, at issue was a determination of the value of the consideration paid for the supply of management services provided to mutual fund trusts. 

Tagged in: GST HST
Last modified on
Hits: 4149
0

Toronto Office

24 Duncan Street, Third Floor, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2B8 Canada
Phone: (416) 864-6200| Fax: (416) 864-6201

Client Login

To access the Millar Kreklewetz LLP secure client file transfer system, please log in.