Alain Ranger pratique depuis plus de 30 ans en droit fiscal, plus spécialement en droit fiscal lié au droit des sociétés et au droit des affaires. Au cours des années, Alain a développé une expertise reconnue dans une variété de domaines dont les fusions et acquisitions, les transactions transfrontalières, les réorganisations d’entreprises, les investissements étrangers, les financements structurés et la fiscalité des sociétés.Le 28 mai dernier, le ministre des Finances du Canada a déposé à la Chambre des communes un avis de motion de voies et moyens (l’« Avis ») officialisant ainsi l’intention du Canada de présenter un projet de loi pour mettre en oeuvre les propositions retenues de la Convention multilatérale pour la mise en œuvre des mesures relatives aux conventions fiscales pour prévenir l’érosion de la base d’imposition et le transfert de bénéfices (l’« IM »). L’Avis a été adopté par les parlementaires le 21 juin et le projet de loi a ainsi franchi l’étape de la première lecture à la Chambre des communes.
Pour fins de rappel, le Canada était l’un des signataires de l’IM le 7 juin 2017 et il avait alors annoncé son intention d’adopter les normes minimales proposées par l’OCDE dans le cadre des propositions BEPS ainsi que l’arbitrage obligatoire lié aux différends dans les conventions fiscales. L’Avis prévoit donc l’adoption de ces normes minimales, ainsi que d’autres mesures à l’égard desquelles le Canada avait initialement réservé sa position.
On May 28, 2018, nearly a year after Canada became a signatory to the OECD’s Multilateral Instrument (“MLI”), a notice of ways & means motion has been tabled by the Minister of Finance (Canada) in the House of Commons signalling the Canadian government’s intention to introduce legislation to ratify the MLI. On June 20, 2018, Bill C-82, which will enact the MLI, received first reading in the House of Commons. The MLI has been signed by 78 countries including Canada.
When the MLI is ratified by Canada and the other signatories, existing bilateral tax treaties may be modified to apply certain agreed to minimum standards on treaty abuse and improving dispute resolution that were endorsed by participating countries under the OECD /G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project.
A huge data leak from a Panama-based law firm has exposed billions in secret, offshore transactions involving multiple political leaders around the world and approximately 350 Canadians with offshore tax haven investments.
Previous leaks of offshore activities have led the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to engage in multiple tax audits targeting wealthy Canadians, such as clients of the LGT Bank, the Swiss HSBC Bank, and recently clients of one international accounting firm, just to name a few. This time should be no different. CRA was already instructed to get the leaked data in Panama Papers.
Many OECD-participating countries have engaged in a fight against tax evasion, treaty shopping and base erosion and profit-shifting (BEPS). Combined with the upcoming exchanges of financial information between countries starting in 2017 and 2018, Canada’s “new” offshore tax compliance section since 2013 and the offshore tax informant program (OTIP) rewarding whistleblowers, wealthy Canadians and businesses engaged in aggressive tax planning are more likely than ever to be audited.
In addition, the 2016 Federal budget proposed a plan to “improve tax compliance, prevent underground economic activity, tax evasion and aggressive tax planning,” requiring an investment of $444.4 million over five years to be used by the CRA for:
- hiring additional auditors and specialists
- developing robust business intelligence infrastructure
- increasing audit activities
- improving the quality of investigative work that targets criminal tax evaders
The expected additional revenue from such measures is $2.6 billion.
To most Canadians, these measures may sound perfectly legitimate. But many taxpayers in the province of Québec will hear a familiar tune that evokes unpleasant memories.
For many years, both the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have treated limited liability companies (LLC) formed under Delaware law as hybrid entities, in that a LLC has been “opaque” for the purposes of domestic tax law despite being generally disregarded or treated as a partnership for United States tax purposes.
Hybrid entities, including LLCs, are due to be somewhat of a hot topic next month because, as part of its Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, the OECD is due to present its recommendations to the G20 Finance Minister in relation to “Action 2: Neutralizing the effects of hybrid mismatch arrangements”. However, over the summer the United Kingdom Supreme Court has stepped into the fray in its decision in Anson v. Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs ( UKSC 44).
This decision emphasizes that entity classification for international tax purposes is highly dependent on the facts and the governing law applicable to the entity, despite guidance from tax authorities that prefers to apply a “one size fits all” approach. As discussed below, the Anson decision may create renewed interest and support for taking a tax position that diverges from the traditional opaque characterisation of a US LLC.