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Rob Kreklewetz & John Bassindale

Rob Kreklewetz & John Bassindale

Rob Kreklewetz & John Bassindale has not set their biography yet

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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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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