A New Housing Rebate (“NHR”) is available under ss. 254(2) of the Excise Tax Act (“ETA”) to enable those who qualify to obtain a rebate of GST/HST paid on the purchase of a new residential property. To qualify para. 254(2)(b) says a “particular individual” must acquire a property for use as a primary place of residence of that individual or a family member.
In Cheema v. The Queen, 2016 TCC 251, the Tax Court of Canada (“TCC”) held that based on the general principle that a bare trust is considered a non-entity for tax purposes, a guarantor that signs an agreement of purchase and sale as a bare trustee for the beneficial owners was not a “particular individual”.
The TCC decision was recently overturned by the Federal Court of Appeal (“FCA”) in Cheema v. The Queen, 2018 FCA 45 (“Cheema”) where a 2-1 majority held that a bare trustee was a “particular individual”.
Section 254 of the ETA allows the purchaser of a new residential unit to claim a partial GST/HST Rebate (often called a New Housing Rebate – “NHR”). The NHR was intended to off-set GST/HST payable on new housing, back to the point where the GST/HST actually paid on the purchase of new housing equates, more-or-less, with the expected former federal sales tax (“FST”) component of comparable housing. The NHR was designed to ensure that the GST did not pose a barrier to affordable housing.
The NHR is only available where the builder makes a supply by sale to a person, which makes that person a “particular individual” for purposes of the NHR rules (s. 254(2)(a)). The particular individual (or their relation) generally must be first to occupy the new home as their primary residence (s. 254(2)(d)(i)). Each buyers of a new home (i.e. each particular individual) must meet each NHR requirement (s. 262(3)). Where new home ownership structures are slightly complicated, meeting these requirements can become tricky.
This was the issue in Crooks v. The Queen (2016 TCC 52).