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In a previous blog (click here) we wrote about the case of CBS Canada Holdings Co. v. The Queen (2016 TCC 85), and the limitations that decision placed on a lawyer acting as an advocate. In particular, the Tax Court of Canada (the "TCC") held that the law firm representing CBS had sworn an affidavit on a controversial issue, and in doing so had crossed the line between being an advocate for the client and inappropriately become involved in the facts of the case as a witness.

As we noted at the time, the decision was appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal (the "FCA"). The FCA has now issued its decision (2017 FCA 65), completely exonerating the lawyers for CBS!

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CBS Canada Holdings Co. (2016 TCC 85)considered when a lawyer crosses the line between advocate and partisan, and when doing so results in a conflict with the lawyer’s responsibilities as an officer of the court.

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For years it was an open question as to whether or not a Canada Revenue Agency ("CRA") auditor owed a duty of care to a taxpayer under audit.  In the recent case of Leroux (2014 BCSC 720) the Supreme Court of British Columbia (BCSC) concluded that, on the facts, the CRA auditors owed a duty of care to the taxpayer.  But what is the appropriate standard of care a CRA auditor must meet to avoid a finding of negligence? 

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The first class in Tax law 101 features a discussion on the Duke of Westminster ([1936] A.C. 1), wherein the Appeals Court of England ruled that:   “Every man is entitled if he can to order his affairs so as that the tax attaching under the appropriate Acts is less than it otherwise would be.”

Even in Canada today, home of what some would say much over-regulation, it remains generally permissible for taxpayers to structure their affairs in a more tax effective manner.  (Lest we over-generalize, an exception does exist for abusive tax planning, which the CRA refers to as "tax avoidance").

As is often the case with tax planning, however, implementation is the key.

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