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Bryan Horrigan

Bryan Horrigan

Bryan Horrigan has not set their biography yet

Given that financial services are exempt from GST/HST under Part VII of Schedule V of the Excise Tax Act, the “financial services” definition in section 123(1) is subject of regular litigation before the Tax Court. 

The definition is structured to delineate what constitutes a “financial service” in paragraphs 123(1)(a) to (m) and what a financial service “does not include” in paragraphs 123(1)(n) to (t)

In SLFI Group - Invesco Canada Ltd. (2017 TCC 78), the Tax Court of Canada recently had another opportunity to deal with these inclusions and exclusions in the financial services definition.  In doing so, the Tax Court applied an unexpectedly broad interpretation of the exclusion found in paragraph 123(1)(q), which deals with the supply of “management services”. 

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Most businesses will, at some point, have to deal with a situation where they have made advance payments for goods and services that never end up being provided.  The cause for this non-supply is often due to the fact that the supplier has become impecunious.  This results in obvious commercial headaches for the recipient, which can be exacerbated by corresponding GST implications. 

Typically in such situations, the recipient will pay GST to the supplier in respect of the advance payment and take a corresponding Input Tax Credit (“ITC”) in its next GST Return.  The supplier is required to remit that GST collected to the fisc.  Pursuant to subsections 232(1) and (3) of the ETA, where the supplier will not be making the supply (or, for other reasons, reduces the consideration owed for the supply), it can adjust, refund or credit the amount collected (including the GST collected), and issue a “credit note” to the recipient.  In turn, pursuant to paragraph 232(3)(b), the supplier can apply an adjustment in its next GST return to reduce its net tax by the GST amount in the credit note.  Correspondingly, pursuant to paragraph 232(3)(c) the recipient is required to apply an adjustment to increase its net tax by the same amount (to account for the portion of the ITC previously taken, but now credited). 

To the extent that the supplier is impecunious, the recipient will be left with a situation where it has had to increase its net tax, pursuant to a credit note received that will never actually be honoured.  This was exactly the situation in the TCC decision in North Shore Power Group Inc. (2017 TCC 1).

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The recent Tax Court decision in Persepolis Contracting (2017 TCC 89) is another example of how the concept of agency is so important in the GST context.  The case serves as a reminder that written documents will be central to the determination of whether an agency relationship exists, and suggests that it might be difficult to establish that written agreements constitute evidence of agency.

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