Statement from the Canada Revenue Agency regarding the decision in Canada (National Revenue) v. Cameco Corporation (2019 FCA 67)
May 31, 2019 Ottawa, Ontario Canada Revenue Agency
The Canada Revenue Agency issued the following statement in response to the April 3, 2019 decision from the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) that upheld the Federal Court decision (2017 FC 763):
"The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) confirmed that it will not seek leave to appeal the decision in Canada (National Revenue) v. Cameco Corporation (2019 FCA 67) to the Supreme Court of Canada. The Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) upheld the Federal Court decision (2017 FC 763) that the Minister of National Revenue does not have the authority to compel the employees requested by the CRA to attend interviews and answer oral questions under a general audit and inspection rule of the Income Tax Act.
Although the FCA upheld the Federal Court decision, it also stated that:
- all taxpayers should fully cooperate with reasonable requests arising in the course of an audit;
- it remains open to the Minister to make inferences when no answer is given; and
- the Minister is free to make assumptions and to assess on that basis.
The CRA's objective in conducting an examination of information is to ensure compliance with tax laws. The applicable tax legislation is intended to provide CRA officials with the legal authority to obtain the information needed to carry out these activities in a timely manner. The CRA will communicate its requests and be transparent with respect to their scope and relevancy. To expedite this process, the CRA conducts interviews of taxpayers, their employees, representatives, related parties and any other person it deems necessary in carrying out its audit function.
The decision of the FCA does not diminish the responsibilities of owners, managers and other persons on the premises of a business to cooperate and answer questions during the course of an audit. Refusal to participate in oral interviews, and to provide the assistance required during the course of an audit indicates a lack of openness and transparency, and potentially a higher risk of non-compliance.
Taxpayers and the CRA have a shared interest in conducting and participating in oral interviews. The information gained in these conversations helps enhance the transparency and accuracy of CRA audits and can lead to earlier tax certainty. This shared interest in early tax certainty is not impacted by the FCA decision. The CRA will continue to seek interviews where necessary and expects that the vast majority of taxpayers will continue to comply. Where taxpayers decline interviews in circumstances similar to the Cameco case, the CRA will use alternative means to carry out its obligations in verifying a taxpayer's level of compliance, which may increase tax uncertainty and compliance burden for the taxpayer. This may include the use of assumptions about the nature of a taxpayer's business activities and tax planning to form the basis of an assessment of taxes owing.
Based on a number of recent court decisions and issues raised by taxpayers, the CRA has updated its policy on Obtaining Information for Audit Purposes to clarify when and why information is to be requested from taxpayers. This policy seeks to emphasize that the CRA will request relevant information, with an obligation to clearly document and communicate these requirements.
Audits are one of the key tools to identify and deter non-compliance and the Government remains firmly engaged in its commitment to obtaining all the information required to administer and apply Canadian tax laws. Getting the right information is critical to an audit that is fair and effective and CRA auditors will continue to ask for information when appropriate, given the facts and circumstances of each individual case."
Canada Revenue Agency
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