Whether a supply is taxable under the Excise Tax Act (“ETA”) can depend, in part, on how that supply is characterized. In normal commercial relations, businesses will often bundle many diverse services together – including both taxable and exempt services. Once bundled together, one must consider whether they remain multiple supplies, or whether they now constitute one single supply. If a single supply, one must then determine the character of that supply, which can impact whether it is taxable or exempt.
The courts’ approach to characterizing bundled supplies has evolved over the last few years. This was especially apparent in last year’s Federal Court of Canada (“FCA”) decision in Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce v. Canada, 2021 FCA 96 (“CIBC 2021”), which was recently denied leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) — making it the law of the land.
The recent Tax Court of Canada (“TCC”) decision in Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce v. The Queen, 2022 TCC 83 (“CIBC 2022”), is an example of how the TCC is now applying the FCA’s text-focused approach to other GST/HST characterization cases.