Our Taxation Lawyers
Personal, Corporate, International & Policy
Members of our Taxation Department practice almost exclusively in taxation matters, including all facets of federal and provincial income taxation and provincial retail sales tax, a variety of international taxation matters and a wide range of compliance and planning matters relating to the federal Goods and Services Tax.
These highly skilled practitioners with dedicated practices are an important resource and assist in the effective delivery of services in all areas of the firm’s practice. Further, following the firm’s team approach, the Tax Department draws upon the expertise of other practice groups of the firm in serving clients’ needs.
By working together with the Business Law Department on business structures and acquisitions, with the Estate Department on estate and intergenerational planning matters and with the Litigation Department on a variety of tax litigation matters, the Tax Department is in a position to service a wide range of client tax planning and tax litigation needs.
The firm’s services in the area of Taxation law include:
Income Tax Planning
Federal income taxation impacts on virtually every transaction engaged in by our clients. Deciding on the best form to carry on business or structuring a particular form of business organization in an effective manner are decisions that are laden with income tax consequences. Similarly, each time an asset is bought or sold, the income tax implications can be substantial. We can assist our clients in minimizing tax burdens and maximizing tax incentives and initiatives associated with such organizational decisions and with purchase and sale transactions. We can also assist in developing effective strategies for loss utilization, realization of capital gains exemptions, multiple access of small business tax rates and tax deferral in a variety of circumstances, including corporate reorganizations. We have assisted special status groups with respect to maximizing tax exemptions peculiar to those groups such as ensuring, in appropriate circumstances, the exemptions available to status Indians and the exemptions available to a variety of non-profit organizations. We have assisted several non-profit sponsors of Senior Housing Developments with special attention to tax effective structures.
The imposition of capital gains tax on death requires that Canadian residents consider effective estate planning as part of the organization of their business and investment affairs. The firm’s Tax Department has considerable expertise and experience in implementing a variety of estate plans tailored to meet the diverse needs and circumstances of our clients. Many of these plans incorporate related planning initiatives which minimize tax incidence during the estate planner’s lifetime in a variety of manners including the use of trusts and other vehicles and which take full advantage of tax minimization options available in respect of the administration of his or her estate. Estate freezing, income splitting, maximizing access to capital gains exemptions and assisting in the preparation of tax effective testamentary instruments all form part of the routine workload of the tax department.
Tax Dispute Resolution and Litigation
We act for taxpayers at the various stages of the assessment and appeal process throughout which potential settlement opportunities are evaluated and pursued. We have represented clients in all levels of court on taxation matters, often with the assistance of our Litigation Department. Our Tax Department enjoys considerable success in this area of tax practice, including the Supreme Court of Canada case, M.N.R. v. Neuman.
Tax Policy and Legislation
The Lobbyists Registration Act formally recognizes the role that many tax specialists have played for clients in the past; namely, influencing tax legislation as a method of resolving particular problems and concerns of clients. Our firm has a rich tradition of successful submissions to the Department of Finance, Tax Policy and Legislation Branch which have given rise to amendments to the Income Tax Act and Regulations as a means of resolving problems on behalf of our clients.
First Nations and Aboriginal Business
We provide advice to First Nations and Aboriginal businesses and business people, to enable them to best structure their affairs to minimize taxation and assist with the establishment of appropriate legal structures including settlement trusts and business entities such as limited partnerships. Tax Law is constantly evolving and our firm has been instrumental in helping to share the law in favour of First Nations and their members. We have assisted with obtaining advance tax rulings in connection with treaty land entitlement negotiations used as the basis upon which to structure settlement trusts to ensure the most advantageous tax treatment. Our firm is well-positioned to provide up-to-date strategic tax advice to our clients.
Provincial Sales and Transfer Taxes
The firm’s Tax Department has extensive experience in dealing with issues concerning all provincial sales and transfer taxes which arise in the course of clients’ activities. These include retail sales tax, land transfer tax, payroll tax and motive fuel and gasoline taxes. In addition to interpretive and compliance issues relating to proposed transactions, we have also been able to present our clients with planning opportunities to minimize or defer taxes in a wide range of circumstances. In particular, we have assisted Indian bands in developing structures which help to ensure the application of the exemption from taxation found in the Indian Act. We also have considerable experience in advising our clients on (and assisting our litigation department in litigating) difficult constitutional issues relating to the imposition of provincial sales taxes.
Goods and Services Tax
The Goods and Services Tax (the “GST”) impacts on business structures and many commercial transactions. Our Tax Department advises our clients on particular matters to which the GST applies, such as management contracts, commercial leases, commercial real estate transactions and a variety of other transactions. We have assisted our clients in developing structures and isolating planning techniques to avoid pitfalls and to minimize the impact of GST in respect of their affairs.
The boundaries of personal, investment and business expenditures are rarely confined to one province or even one country in this mobile day and age. The international tax ramifications associated with such mobility impact on many of our clients’ affairs whether they relate to the ownership of a condominium in the United States, importing goods and materials from Asia or setting up business links abroad. All such transactions require an intricate understanding of double taxation issues. While international tax planning does not form part of the daily routine of our firm’s tax department, appropriate technical expertise regarding the avoidance of double tax in cross-border transactions is available to the firm’s clients through our Tax Department.
Tax-Assisted Investment Opportunities
The firm’s Tax Department is involved with providing advice on a variety of tax-assisted investment opportunities, including scientific research and development and the exploration and development of natural resources. Other investment areas such as real estate development or venture capital interests in a variety of business concerns may also be tax-assisted depending on the form of organization of such investment opportunities. Our Tax Department has played and continues to play an active role in structuring tax-assisted offerings and in assessing investment opportunities being considered by our clients.