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  • COVID-19: How to adapt your current tax planning?

    The spread of COVID-19 is having a considerable negative effect on the global economy. Several tax planning strategies adapted to the current situation can be considered in order to mitigate the impact. Tax planning for individuals helps to (i) reduce the taxes payable upon death, (ii) encourage intergenerational business transfers, and (iii) maximize the use of the capital gains deduction, through a trust or otherwise. For businesses in the current economic crisis, creativity and strategic vision are needed. In this context, certain tax plans will allow businesses to (i) maximize liquidity, (ii) reduce a corporate group’s taxes payable in the short term, (iii) optimize the use of losses, and (iv) bring about major tax savings in the long term. Here are a few examples of tax plans that are particularly appropriate for the current situation: Employee stock option plans Reviewing strike prices Strategies for using the capital dividend account Strategies for using losses within a corporate group, including: Intragroup management fees Loans between corporations Amalgamation or liquidation of business corporations Deferral of taxes on imports Recovering the GST/QST on bad debts Strategies to increase the fiscal cost of certain corporate assets and shares Estate freeze in order to lower taxes upon death Estate thawing and refreezing Applicable to a previous freeze whose value exceeds the current value Planning with regard to the rule of the average cost of identical properties Income splitting Leaving Canada Dismantling or creating legal entities to facilitate tax planning These plans are particularly effective in a context of economic downturn and a decrease in the fair market value of investments and assets. It is therefore important to act quickly.  Our taxation team is available to answer all of your questions about establishing a tax plan to suit your needs.

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  • New Compensation Method: Employee Benefit Trust Replacing Stock Option Plans

    Nowadays, many employers are seeking out forms of compensation that will help motivate and retain key employees. More and more, employers are opting for one of a variety of company stock ownership profit-sharing plans to reach this objective. Employers who wish to implement this type of structure must ensure that the one they choose most adequately meets their objectives. In this context, employee benefit trusts make it possible to reach objectives that are common to many employers while providing tax treatment that is often much more beneficial to employees. Type of Profit-Sharing Plan With this type of profit-sharing plan, employers must set up a trust and designate employees as beneficiaries. Subsequently, the trust subscribes for or purchases shares of the company. The trustees of the trust (usually the shareholders of the company) then hold these shares acquired for the employees. The deed of trust must include the terms that govern the holding of the shares by the trustees. For instance, it is important to determine which employees will be the beneficiaries of the trust, at which point(s) in time and under which conditions the shares will be designated to the employees, and under which circumstances the company would be able to repurchase the shares. Once the trust is set up, any new employee designated as such by the company may become a beneficiary of the trust. More Flexibility for Employers Employee benefit trusts provide employers with many benefits. First and foremost, employers have more control with an employee benefit trust than with an employee stock option plan (ESOP). Contrary to an ESOP, with an employee benefit trust, employees do not personally hold the company’s shares. Rather, the trustees are the ones holding said shares. As such, employees do not need to attend shareholders’ meetings or have access to the company’s financial information. Furthermore, the fact that the company’s shares are not personally held by the employees prevents problems should a misunderstanding arise with a profit-sharing employee. Furthermore, since the employees are not immediately shareholders of the company, the moment where the employees have to be part of the shareholders’ agreement of the company is postponed to a later date. This type of plan also gives employers much more flexibility in terms of selecting the employees who will become shareholders. If the deed of trust is drafted judiciously, there is no need to finalize the selection of employees who will become shareholders at the time that the trust is set up. Thus, the trust may continue to hold the shares of the company until such time as the employees who will become shareholders are chosen and the necessary conditions for the allotment of shares are met. It is therefore possible to postpone said selection until the sale of the company. In this case, the chosen employees may avail themselves of their capital gains deduction and therefore benefit from tax treatment that is much more advantageous than, say, a bonus at the time of sale. In addition, an employee benefit trust eliminates a common ESOP issue, which is having to frequently determine the fair market value (FMV) of the company’s shares. With an ESOP, the determination of the FMV of the shares underlying the options must be made every time ESOPs are granted in order to ensure that employees receive favourable tax treatment. As ESOPs are usually granted to many shareholders at various points in time over a number of years, the FMV of the company’s shares must be determined repeatedly. An employee benefit trust eliminates the need for this exercise, as the company’s FMV will only have to be established when the shares are acquired by the trust. Benefits for Employees Not only is an employee benefit trust beneficial to employers, but it also provides certain benefits to employees. Just like all other stock ownership profit-sharing plans, employee benefit trusts allow employees to benefit from the company’s future increases in value. Although employees are not shareholders of the company from the time that the trust is set up, they will benefit from all of the capital gain accrued on the participating shares that will be allocated to them by the trust. Moreover, for the purposes of certain provisions of the Income Tax Act (ITA), if a share in trust is held by a trustee, whether absolutely, conditionally or contingently, for an employee, the employee is deemed to have acquired the security at the time the trust began to so hold it. This presumption, set out in subsection 7(2) of the ITA, allows for the beginning of the computation of the two-year period following the owning of the shares, which is relevant for the employees’ eligibility to the capital gains deduction as well as to the deduction in computing the taxable income provided for in paragraph 110(1)(d.1) of the ITA. An employee benefit trust therefore makes certain tax benefits, such as the capital gains deduction, more accessible to employees. Lastly, an employee benefit trust provides a tax benefit to employees in cases in which the shares of the profit-sharing plan have decreased in value since they were issued. In the event that the trust disposes of the securities to the company and that the amount paid by the company to acquire, repurchase or cancel said securities does not exceed the amount that it had previously been paid, employees may deduct an amount to offset the taxed benefit, in accordance with subsection 7(1) of the ITA. Through this tax treatment, employees avoid losing capital at the time of the disposition of the securities to the company, a loss of capital that would remain unusable until employees achieve a capital gain. This scenario may occur, in particular, when an ESOP is implemented. Although an employee benefit trust provides many benefits to employees, this type of profit-sharing plan is more complex than traditional profit-sharing plans. Thus, in situations in which employers wish to share profits with a single employee, it may be appropriate to consider another type of profit-sharing plan. Out team in Taxation and Labour and Employment are ready to advise you and to assist you in implementing them.

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  • Business Succession Planning: Transfer, Financing and Planning

    Have you built a prosperous business through your hard work and perseverance? Are you the kind of entrepreneur who invests countless hours in growing your business? Every business owner must one day plan for the succession of his business, whether with a view to his retirement, to sell the business to a third party, or to transfer it to a family member or to the employees. In order to properly prepare for that day, it is crucial to develop a succession plan.

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  • Federal budget and capital gain: Time for tax planning

    There is currently speculation in the media that Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s next federal budget will increase the capital gain inclusion rate from 50% to 75%.The combined marginal tax rate on capital gains is currently 26.7% for a resident of Québec. This rate would reach nearly 40% if the budget was to increase the capital gain inclusion rate to 75%. A $1,000,000 capital gain would thus generate approximately $133,000 in additional taxes. Proposed tax planning Assuming that the rumour materializes, it is possible to counter the adverse effects of such change by implementing a simple tax planning measure before the budget is tabled. The planning involves transferring assets that have appreciated in value to a corporation. Subject to certain conditions, the transfer allows for the gain to be made prior to the new rules coming into force, thus allowing the taxpayer to benefit from the current 50% inclusion rate. Such a course of action could be of interest to someone who is considering selling assets in the short or medium term. Impact if anticipated measure is not adopted Should the budget not include the anticipated change, it would be possible to reduce and even cancel the capital gain by filing rollover tax forms after the budget is released. No gain would be realized and consequently no tax would be payable. Our highly qualified tax team is available to assist you in that regard.

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  • Directors’ Liability

    CONTENTS Directors’ liability for payroll withholding taxes Due diligence: An evolving standard To what risks of liability or being found guilty are directors exposed? Environmental liability of directors and officers Directors’ liability for payroll withholding taxes Luc Pariseau and Audrey Gibeault Directors of a corporation may be held personally liable in cases where the corporation fails to withhold and remit federal or provincial payroll taxes on salary, wages and certain benefits. Directors may also be liable for amounts which ought to have been withheld on payments to a non-resident that are subject to withholdings under Part XIII of the Income Tax Act1 (herein referred to as the «Act»). This article reviews in more detail the potential exposure that directors face, and also briefly describes some of the possible remedies that are available in such cases. With respect to federal income taxes, the failure of a corporation to deduct, withhold or remit source deductions under the Act, the Employment Insurance Act2 or the Canada Pension Plan Act3 subjects its directors to personal liability for the unpaid and unremitted amounts. A similar principle applies in the province of Quebec for an amount that an employer was required to deduct, withhold or remit under the Tax Administration Act4 (hereinafter referred to as the “Administration Act”), the Act respecting the Québec Pension Plan,5 the Act respecting parental insurance,6the Act respecting labour standards,7the Act to promote workforce skills development and recognition,8 and the Act respecting the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec.9 The purpose of these rules is to make the directors liable for the payment of the employer’s contributions. Section 24.0.1 of the Administration Act and section 227.1 of the Act apply to directors holding office on the date on which the amounts were to be remitted, the date they were to be deducted, withheld or collected, and the date on which an amount was to be paid. In certain circumstances, a person not officially appointed as a director could be considered to be a “de facto” director and become liable if such person performs some of the functions that a director would normally perform. Before a director becomes liable under these provisions, the tax authorities have to demonstrate that they cannot recover the amounts directly from the particular corporate taxpayer. Additionally, the tax authorities must register a certificate for the amount of the corporation’s liability and establish that the amount remains unsatisfied. The director will need to establish that he exercised the degree of care, diligence and skill to prevent the failure that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in comparable circumstances.10 The case law on this point11 has shown that the issue is generally whether, at the relevant time, the director knew or ought to have known of the problem, and whether he took the action within his power under the circumstances to correct the situation. In addition, the tax authorities cannot assess a director for source deductions owing after the expiry of two years from the date on which the director ceased to be a director of the corporation.12 Directors may require the corporation to purchase insurance on their behalf to protect them and former directors against liabilities incurred due to their status as directors, provided that they have fulfilled their fiduciary duties. Directors may, in particular, seek the advice of tax specialists to ensure that they comply with their obligations relating to payroll withholding taxes. _________________________________________ 1  R.S.C. 1985, c. 1 (5th Supp). 2  SC 1996, c. 23. 3  RSC 1985, c. C-8. 4  R.S.Q. c. A-6.002. 5  R.S.Q., c. R-9. 6  R.S.Q., c. A-29.011. 7  R.S.Q., c. N-1.1. 8  8 R.S.Q., c. D-8.3. 9  R.S.Q., c. R-5. 10  227.1(3) of the Act and 24.0.1 of the Administration Act. 11  Soper v. Canada, [1998] 1 C.F. 124 and Peoples Department Stores Inc. (Trustee of) v. Wise, [2004] C.S.C. 68. 12  227.1(4) of the Act and 24.0.2 of the Administration Act.     Due diligence: An evolving standard Jean-Philippe Latreille and Emmanuel Sala Nobody is held to the impossible. This maxim is reflected in statutes that hold directors of a corporation liable, on a solidary or joint and several basis, for its failure to comply with certain tax obligations. Indeed, directors will generally be relieved from such liability if they can demonstrate that they acted with a degree of care, diligence and skill that is reasonable under the circumstances. This is commonly known as the “due diligence defence.” Naturally, the circumstances are specific to each case, and there are no hard and fast rules for determining whether a director can rely on the due diligence defence. We must therefore turn to the courts’ interpretation of this standard, which has fluctuated somewhat in recent years. For many years, an “objective-subjective” test prevailed. This meant that directors had to show they had exercised the skill that can be expected from a person with the same level of knowledge or experience. The fact that the director’s personal abilities were taken into account made it possible to apply the standard of due diligence with some flexibility. However, following the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2004 decision in Peoples,1courts have determined that the test for the due diligence defence should be objective, but must also include a consideration of the specific circumstances faced by the corporation and its directors. Although all directors have the same duty of diligence, it should be noted that the analysis of a director’s liability must take into account the very different contexts in which “outside” and “inside” directors operate. Inside directors play an active role in the corporation’s management and can influence the conduct of its business affairs. They are in a better position to become aware of a corporation’s financial difficulties soon after they arise, and to take such corrective measures as are possible. The reality for outside directors is very different: most often, they are completely dependent on the information they receive from the corporation’s management and on the opinions expressed by experts (such as the corporation’s auditors) though this does not give them licence to disregard outward signs of financial difficulty. Consequently, the distinction between outside and inside directors is a contextual factor to take into consideration as part of the “objective” analysis associated with the due diligence standard ordained by the Supreme Court. This means that instead of considering the skills, aptitudes or personal characteristics of a given director — an approach that would fit more closely with the “objective-subjective” analysis that used to prevail — one must consider the circumstances associated with the director’s role and position with the corporation. Furthermore, the obligation which tax statutes impose on directors is an obligation of means, not an obligation of result. Thus, a director will not be held liable if he or she implemented measures that a reasonably prudent person would have taken, even if those measures did not yield the desired results. In this sense, directors cannot be regarded as unconditional guarantors of a corporation’s tax liabilities. For example, a director will not be held liable for the failures of an employee of the corporation if that employee had the necessary training and was appropriately supervised. In conclusion, the decision to become a director of a corporation should not be taken lightly. Before accepting such an office, one should ensure that the corporation has sound governance practices in place and that these practices will be followed throughout one’s mandate. Directors should not hesitate to consult with their legal advisors in order to ensure that they act in accordance with their obligations and thereby limit their exposure to liability. _________________________________________ 1  Peoples Department Stores Inc. (Trustee of) v. Wise, [2004] xv3 SCR 461.     To what risks of liability or being found guilty are directors exposed? André Laurin Directors are subject to the legal liability regime provided in the incorporating statute of the legal person and possibly to that of its registered office and, in some respects, to the regimes in place in jurisdictions where the legal person carries out its activities. It is therefore important to have a good knowledge of the laws that apply to the legal person and directors. In the context of Quebec law, directors face two major types of potential liability, namely: contractual liability to the legal person of which they are directors or, by way of derivative action, to the persons who may step into the shoes of the legal person in certain circumstances (shareholders or creditors of the legal person); and extracontractual liability (delictual, quasi-delictual and penal) to third parties, but also to the legal person. Contractual Liability Civil contractual liability stems from the nature of the link between the legal person and its directors. Under Quebec law, directors are mandataries of the legal person. They may incur liability to the legal person if they do not discharge their duties (care and loyalty) to the legal person or if they exceed the limits of their mandate. Extracontractual Liability Extracontractual liability may be civil or penal in nature. A person seeking a civil liability judgement is required to prove that the director, in the course of discharging its duties, committed a fault which caused damages to such person. However, the person may in some circumstances rely on legal liability presumptions against the director. The court will assess the elements put before it according to the rule of preponderance of evidence. For instance, a director who would knowingly support the decision of the board to authorize the marketing of a product which he knows is hazardous or non-compliant with the regulatory standards of the industry and may cause damages to third parties may be ordered to pay damages to the victims who suffer such damages. In the same way, a director who votes in favour of a recommendation to the shareholders to approve a merger or accept a takeover bid which he knows or should have known that it is not fair or not in the interest of the legal person and its shareholders may be held liable to the shareholders. Failure by a director to exercise its duty of care or duty of loyalty to the legal person may in certain circumstances be considered by the courts as being a civil fault in the context of proceedings against the director by the legal person itself or third parties. Specific statutes identify certain behaviours as constituting penal or criminal offences. Some statutes also create presumptions of guilt. The evidence will be assessed on the basis of the “beyond a reasonable doubt” criterion. Furthermore, the Criminal Code (Canada)1, mainly in section 21, opens the door to the concept of complicity to or participation in a criminal or penal offence. A director who is found guilty may, according to the case and the nature of the criminal offence, be ordered to pay a fine, be imposed a limitation of his rights and even imprisonment. In most cases, a defence of due diligence may be made, even against a presumption, if the director has been in fact diligent. Furthermore, it is to be noted that the more the determination of the fault is objective, the less accessible becomes the defence of due diligence. For a more detailed analysis of the duties of directors and the nature of their potential liability, please refer to the document entitled “The Corporate Director: Questions and Answers”.2 Other remedies The oppression remedy and the application for an injunction complete the arsenal of means or remedies which may be brought against directors. _________________________________________ 1  Criminal Code (Canada) R.S.C. (1985), c. C-46. 2  “The Corporate Director: Questions and Answers”.     Environmental liability of directors and officers Katia Opalka Several federal and provincial statutes in force in Quebec make corporate directors and officers personally liable for offences of an environmental nature committed by the corporation. Corporations can face site assessment and clean-up orders. Subject to certain conditions, directors and officers of a corporation can be named to such orders. The environment ministry can also refuse to issue or renew environmental authorizations on the grounds that a director or officer of the corporation, of a related corporation, or of a lender of the corporation was found guilty of an offence or convicted on certain types of tax charges in the preceding five years. This article reviews sources of personal liability for directors and officers and then identifies measures that can be taken to manage these risks so that they don’t become an obstacle to recruiting and retaining talented people. Quebec’s Environment Quality Act (EQA or the Act) creates a presumption: when a corporation is convicted of an offence under the Act, its directors and officers are presumed to be guilty of that offence unless they can show that they exercised due diligence and took all necessary precautions to prevent commission of the offence. In the case of a partnership, all the partners, except for special partners, are deemed to be directors of the partnership, unless they can show that one or more of them, or a third person, manages the affairs of the partnership. Where a director or officer commits an offence, the minimum and maximum amounts of the fines prescribed in the Act for individuals (min. $1,000/max. $1,000,000) are doubled. When a corporation defaults on payment of an amount owed to the Minister under the EQA or its regulations, the corporation’s directors and officers are jointly and severally liable with the corporation for the payment of that amount, unless they can show that they exercised due care and diligence to prevent the breach which led to the claim. With respect to site assessment and clean-up orders, directors and officers may be the subject of such an order if they have had custody or control of the site, unless they can show that either: they were unaware of and had no reason to suspect the presence of contaminants in the land, having regard to the circumstances, practices and duty of care; once they became aware of the presence of contaminants in the land, they acted in conformity with the law, as to the custody of the land, in particular as regards the duty of care and diligence; or the presence of contaminants in the land is a result of outside migration from a source attributable to a third person. To guard against the risk of environmental liability, corporate directors and officers should make sure that the corporation has an environmental management system that works. They should also consider whether it would be worthwhile to take out pollution insurance, to address risks that are not normally covered in directors’ and officers’ liability insurance policies.

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  • Quarterly legal newsletter intended for accounting, management, and finance professionals, Number 19

    CONTENTS Part XII.2 Tax Applicable to Trusts: a Potentially Expensive Tax Whichis Often Overlooked Application of the Anti-avoidance Rule in Subsection 83(2.1): Caution Is Required in the Context of the Acquisition of a Private Corporation Revenu Québec to Scrutinize Trusts Directors’ Liability for the Debts of a Corporation Payable to Employees for Services Rendered During the Directors’ Term of Office  PART XII.2 TAX APPLICABLE TO TRUSTS: A POTENTIALLY EXPENSIVE TAX WHIChis OFTEN OVERLOOKEDLuc PariseauSeveral years after the creation of an inter vivos trust, the tax residence of one or several beneficiaries who were initially residents of Canada may change. For example, a beneficiary child may become a resident of the United States to study and possibly remain there, thus severing his or her residential ties with Canada. In such a case, Part XII.2 tax may apply1 to the trust whichis a resident of Canada since one or several of its beneficiaries have become non-residents of Canada under the Income Tax Act (“ITA”).The purpose of Part XII.2 tax in the ITA is to avoid situations whereby non-residents of Canada reduce their tax burden by holding assets or operating a business in Canada through a trust whichis a resident of Canada for tax purposes instead of directly holding the assets or operating the business. In fact, a non-resident who operates a business in Canada and later disposes of it and realizes a capital gain will be taxable in Canada at the same rate as a Canadian resident on his or her business income and on the capital gain thus realized. In the absence of the Part XII.2 tax, the non-resident could operate his or Part XII.2 tax applicable to trusts: a potentially exp ensive tax whic his often overlooked her business and hold the business assets through a trust resident in Canada to avoid being himself or herself liable for Part I tax.Where the conditions are met, Part XII.2 tax applies at the rate of 36%, most particularly on the income from a business operated in Canada earned by a trust, on income from real property located in Canada and on the taxable capital gains from the disposition of taxable Canadian property (“TCP”). A TCP includes, among other things, shares of private corporation to the extent that, during the 60 month period preceding the time of disposition, more than 50% of the fair market value of the shares is directly or indirectly attributable to real or immovable property located in Canada2. Thus, the presence of a non-resident beneficiary somewhat contaminates the trust resident in Canada because when the income earned by the trust is taxable under Part XII.2 of the ITA, the tax is payable irrespective of whether the income is attributed to a resident beneficiary or not3.Part XII.2 tax must be paid by the trust in the 90 days following the end of the fiscal year4. The beneficiaries who reside in Canada may generally claim a refundable tax credit representing Part XII.2 tax paid by the trust on the portion of income attributed to them. Thus, Canadian beneficiaries should generally not be penalized for the Part XII.2 tax paid by the trust. However, since the trust must first pay the Part XII.2 tax and the Canadian beneficiaries can only claim a refundable tax credit in their own tax return several months later, Part XII.2 tax may result in certain cash flow difficulties. As for the non-resident beneficiaries, Part XII.2 tax may represent a net cost if the non-resident beneficiary resides in a foreign country which taxes the income attributed by the trust residing in Canada without providing foreign tax credits or other mechanisms to enable taxpayers to avoid double taxation.Some planning may be considered when it is anticipated that the beneficiary of a trust will become a non-resident of Canada in order to reduce or avoid Part XII.2 tax. In such situation, it is important to consult a tax advisor to assess the choices that could be made._________________________________________   1 Part XII.2 tax may apply in other situations which are not covered in this bulletin.  2 Under the ITA, a gain from the disposition of real or immovable property located in Canada or Canadian resource property also constitute a TCP. Timber resource property and in certain circumstances, shares of the share capital of a corporation listed on a designated stock exchange may also be considered as TCP.  3 The expression “beneficiary” not being defined in the ITA, some issues may be raised as to the status as a beneficiary of a non-resident person who does not receive any income or capital from the trust in a given fiscal year.  4 Paragraph 104(30) ITA also provides that Part XII.2 tax paid by a trust for a fiscal year must be deducted from its income for the year.  APPLICATION OF THE ANTI-AVOIDANCE RULE IN SUBSECTION 83(2.1): CAUTION IS REQUIRED IN THE CONTEXT OF THE ACQUISITION OF A PRIVATE CORPORATION Éric GélinasMost accountants and lawyers are aware of the fact that a private corporation can pay dividends to its shareholders with no tax impact on them if the dividends are paid out of the capital dividend account (“CDA”). This tax account may consist, among other things, of the nontaxable portion of capital gains realized by a private corporation, life insurance proceeds received by this type of corporation, or capital dividends received from another private corporation. The purpose of the CDA is essentially to ensure that these amounts, which would not be taxable if they were received by the shareholder directly, are treated in the same manner when they are realized through a private corporation. The CDA is therefore a very valuable mechanism because of the favourable tax treatment attached to it.Subsection 83(2.1) of the Income Tax Act (Canada) (“ITA”) provides for an anti-avoidance rule whose purpose is to prevent the shares of a private corporation from being purchased in order to benefit from the available CDA. It reads as follows:(2.1) Notwithstanding subsection 83(2), where a dividend that, but for this subsection, would be a capital dividend is paid on a share of the capital stock of a corporation and the share (or another share for which the share was substituted) was acquired by its holder in a transaction or as part of a series of transactions one of the main purposes of which was to receive the dividend,(a) the dividend shall, for the purposes of this Act (other than for the purposes of Part III and computing the capital dividend account of the corporation), be deemed to be received by the shareholder and paid by the corporation as a taxable dividend and not as a capital dividend; and(b) paragraph 83(2)(b) does not apply in respect of the dividend.In a recent decision in the matter of Groupe Honco Inc. et al. v. The Queen (fi le no. 2009- 2134 (IT)G), rendered on September 4, 2012, the Tax Court of Canada specifi cally considered subsection 83(2.1) ITA. The Court held that subsection 83(2.1) ITA applies in a situation in which the shares of a corporation (the “Target”) were acquired where the Target was the beneficiary of an insurance policy in the amount of $750,000 on the life of the seller, who was very sick at the time of sale of the shares. Since the seller died shortly after the transaction, the insurance proceeds were received by the Target after the acquisition, thereby creating a significant CDA for the Target. Dividends from the CDA, thus created, were subsequently paid by the Target (since merged) to its shareholders. These dividends were redefi ned as taxable dividends by the Canada Revenue Agency on the basis of subsection 83(2.1) ITA.The taxpayers unsuccessfully attempted to argue that the main purpose for the acquisition of the Target’s shares was not to receive the capital dividends, but rather that it was done for other business and tax reasons (e.g. to benefit from the Target’s accumulated losses).However, the Court concluded that subsection 83(2.1) ITA applied and, accordingly, that the dividends paid were in fact taxable dividends.This decision underscores the importance of considering the potential application of subsection 83(2.1) ITA in any situation involving the acquisition of a private corporation in which a CDA remains unused or may be created subsequent to the acquisition.  REVENU QUÉBEC TO SCRUTINIZE TRUSTSDiana DarilusThe Government of Quebec recently decided to give Revenu Québec new tools so that it can ensure that trusts having operations or rental properties in Quebec are in compliance with the tax legislation. In Quebec’s last budget tabled on November 20, 2012, the Quebec government announced amendments designed to require certain trusts that are subject to Quebec tax to file a tax or information return (hereinafter referred to as the “New Rules”). These changes will apply to taxation years starting after November 20, 2012.The New Rules will require certain trusts subject to Quebec tax to file a tax return in three new situations and an information return in one new situation.However, some types of trusts are excluded from the application of the New Rules, for example, estates and testamentary trusts residing in Quebec on the last day of their taxation year if the total of the cost amounts of their property for the entire taxation year of the trust is less than $1 million.CHANGES TO THE FILING OF TAX RETURNSAllocation of income to a beneficiary whether resident or not resident in QuebecWhere a trust subject to Quebec tax for a taxation year deducts an amount allocated to a non-resident beneficiary in the calculation of its income for the taxation year, it must now file a tax return for that taxation year. Previously, it was only required to do so where the amount was allocated to an individual resident in Quebec or a corporation with an establishment there.Thus, where a trust resident in Quebec allocates its income to beneficiaries not resident in Quebec, it must henceforth file a tax return even if it has no tax to pay, realizes no capital gains, and does not dispose of any capital property during the taxation year.Trust resident in Quebec owning property the total of whose cost amounts exceeds $250,000A trust subject to Quebec tax must henceforth file a tax return if it resides in Quebec on the last day of the taxation year and it owns property, at any time during the taxation year, the total of whose cost amounts exceeds $250,000.Trust not resident in Quebec owning business property the total of whose cost amounts exceeds $250,000A trust subject to Quebec tax must henceforth file a tax return if it does not reside in Quebec on the last day of the taxation year and it owns property, at any time during the taxation year, which it uses to carry on a business in Quebec the total of whose cost amounts exceeds $250,000.CHANGES TO THE FILING OF INFORMATION RETURNSTrust resident in Canada outside Quebec holding a rental property in QuebecFrom now on, a trust residing in Canada outside Quebec which owns a rental property1 located in Quebec, or whichis a member of a partnership2 that owns such a property, must file an information return.For example, a trust residing in Canada outside Quebec which receives passive property income (as opposed to business income) from a rental property located in Quebec must henceforth file an information return in Quebec.The New Rules impose additional obligations on certain trusts that were not previously required to file a tax return or information return. The failure to comply with these New Rules may result in the imposition of penalties and interest._________________________________________   1 The New Rules use the expression “specifi ed immovable property” which means an immovable property located in Quebec (or a right in such immovable property) that is used mainly for the purposes of earning or producing gross revenue that constitutes rent.  2 These New Rules also apply to a trust that is a member of a partnership that itself is a member, directly or indirectly, through one or more other partnerships, of a partnership that owns a specifi ed immovable property.  DIRECTORS’ LIABILITY FOR THE DEBTS OF A CORPORATION PAYABLE TO EMPLOYEES FOR SERVICES RENDERED DURING THE DIRECTORS’ TERM OF OFFICE Catherine MéthotThe Quebec Court of Appeal rendered a decision on November 14, 2012 confi rming the state of the law on the scope of section 119 of the Canada Business Corporations Act (the “CBCA”), which provides as follows: “Directors of a corporation are jointly and severally, or solidarily, liable to employees of the corporation for all debts not exceeding six months wages payable to each such employee for services performed for the corporation while they are such directors respectively.” (my emphasis)In this case, Justice Dalphond found from the evidence that the three respondents, Myhill, Cochrane and Lilge, were not only the elected directors in accordance with the resolutions and records of Société Inter-Canadien (1991) Inc. (“Inter”) until their collective resignation in May or June 1999, but also that they had in fact behaved as Inter’s directors, despite the existence of a declaration by Inter’s sole shareholder divesting them of their powers. Inter terminated its operations on October 27, 1999 and declared bankruptcy on March 27, 2000. Inter’s employees claimed several million dollars in unpaid wages by Inter from the directors under section 119 CBCA.Justice Dalphond noted that section 119 CBCA, [translation] “which enacts a liability exceeding that ordinarily prescribed by the law, without proof of fault, must by its nature be interpreted narrowly [as the case law has consistently held].” The debts payable by a corporation for services performed by the employees on its behalf during the term of office of a director constitute the promised, but unpaid, consideration for the work done during the director’s term of office. This includes wages, the reimbursement of expenses incurred, and any amount earned as a result of the services rendered by the employee whose payment was deferred, such as vacation pay. On the other hand, the debts payable for services performed by the employees on behalf of the corporation do not include all the debts borne by a corporation in relation to its employees.Thus, Justice Dalphond found that the directors could not be held liable for: (i) claims for medical expenses due to the employer’s failure to pay the premiums to the insurers, (ii) pay in lieu of notice for the termination of employment under collective agreements because such pay constituted damages for wrongful breach of employment, and (iii) 40 weeks of severance pay claimed by the employees because this was not a form of deferred compensation, but a guarantee of employment security. However, the judge did find the directors liable for deductions made by the corporation out of the employees’ wages for contributions to the group insurance and for the purchase of bonds, which had not been paid to third parties in accordance with the employees’ instructions, because these amounts were still owed by Inter to the employees as a form of unpaid wages.Justice Dalphond therefore recognized the employees’ right to claim the compensation referred to above jointly and severally from the directors [translation] “if unpaid at the time the actions were instituted, not exceeding an amount equal to six months gross wages per employee”. This was in addition to the amounts that were not contested in the case, namely, back wages, unpaid wage increases, unpaid overtime, unreimbursed expenses, vacation pay, holiday pay and sick leave credits.

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  • Quarterly legal newsletter intended for accounting, management, and finance professionals, Number 18

    Are you ready? The harmonization of the QST and the GST may considerably impact your business or clients Sale of litigious rights : Beware of the redemption right Determining the purchase price of shares in a shareholder agreement: When “quiconque” (“any person”) excludes the person who signs Advance notice policies : A tool to consider with regard to shareholder nominations for electing directors

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