Speciale v. R. – TCC: Court Rejects GST Input Tax Credit Claims in Terse Decision

Bill Innes on Current Tax Cases

http://decision.tcc-cci.gc.ca/site/tcc-cci/decisions/en/item/31268/index.do New Window

Speciale v. The Queen[1] (September 13, 2013) is a set of reasons substituted for an earlier set of reasons dated August 13, 2013.  It is difficult, if not impossible, to know what changed between the two sets of reasons since unfortunately the earlier set does not appear on the Tax Court web site.

The case concerned a dispute over GST input tax credits.  The taxpayer was a sole practitioner lawyer who claimed to operate his law practice through a number company, 715866 Ontario Limited (“715866”), as a “bare trustee”.  The decision turned largely on the adequacy of the taxpayer’s records although there were some instances of personal expenses which it seems the taxpayer conceded when they were pointed out.

Judge Margeson had little patience for the taxpayer:

[100]   On the submission put forward by the Appellant about the Court drawing an unfavourable inference against the Respondent because a number of CRA employees were not called as witnesses, the Court finds no merit in this submission and it is rejected. The Appellant argued that his evidence was candid and consistent, but the Court finds that his evidence did not address the issue raised by the auditor, which was the lack of original source documents to support the claim of the Appellant.

[101]   The Appellant stated that he never told the auditor that no further documentation would be provided but it was not and a further extension of time would not have cured that and even at trial no attempt was made to do so. The Appellant seemed to be suggesting in argument that once he provided the cheques to the auditor then the Crown should have gone further to substantiate his claim. The Court rejects this argument. The Court is satisfied that the auditor did not merely ignore the documents that were provided, as suggested by the Appellant.

[102]   The Court agrees with the submissions of the Respondent that the question before the Court is simple. Did the Appellant acquire property under subsection 196(1) of the Excise Tax Act between the relevant dates?

[103]   If he did, then there are certain thresholds that he must meet to gain the relief sought. The thresholds that the taxpayer did not meet according to the Respondent were:

1.       Was the property or service subject to GST?

2.       The Appellant has not shown that he was the person who paid the tax or acquired the credit or paid the GST.

3.       The Appellant has not shown that the supply was consumed in the context of a commercial activity. Many of the items listed by the Appellant were not so consumed.

4.       Most significantly the Appellant must supply sufficient information to allow the amount of the credit to be calculated.

[104]   The Court accepts the argument raised by the Respondent that the bulk of the amounts claimed by the Appellant do not comply with the section. The Court has already commented upon the weight it gives to the evidence of the auditor in this regard and the result is that evidence of the Appellant fails to satisfy the Court that he is entitled to the amounts claimed. As mentioned by the auditor, there was a failure to provide the source documentation required, and as a result, the Appellant has failed to meet the burden of proof that is upon him.

[105]   The cancelled cheques and invoices that the Appellant provided and his calculations by way of estimate fall far short of providing the degree of proof necessary for him to be given the credits claimed.

[106]   On the bad debt argument, the Court is satisfied that the Appellant has failed to prove the existence of the bad debt claimed in accordance with the requirements of the Act as indicated by the Respondent in his argument.

[107]   The Court is not satisfied that the Appellant was actually claiming a bad debt in any event and as argued by the Respondent, he seemed to be merely assigning numbers to his GST return so that he could claim a refund.

[108]   The Court is satisfied on the evidence that the numbers provided by the Appellant are inconsistent and do not match the amount claimed as a credit (see Exhibit A-4 at Tab 30 and Exhibit R-2 at Tab 8).

[109]   The Court rejects the bare trustee argument as having any effect on the outcome of this case. There is no evidence of a trustee relationship and as argued by the Respondent to use the name on a return, does not make it a reality.

[110]   The cases that have been referred to support this conclusion.

[111]   The appeal is dismissed with costs to the Respondent on a party and party basis.

[112]   The Respondent has asked for an increased tariff but the Court does not find that to be a proper result in this case, but it is close.

[113]   The Appellant asks that costs be addressed on another day, but this position is also rejected.

Comment:  Reading the decision it is difficult to tell whether the taxpayer was the author of his own misfortune or simply had a very bad day in court.

[1] 2013 TCC 254.