Monday, September 28, 2015

Latest Update in Canada FATCA IGA litigation

The Federal Court of Canada (Martineau J.) issued a decision in the Canadian FATCA IGA litigation on September 16, ruling against the plaintiffs by finding that the provisions of the IGA are duly enacted law, thus clearing the way for the Canadian tax authorities to furnish information to the United States. You can read the decision here.  Today, the Plaintiffs made a motion for an interlocutory injunction pending appeal of the decision.

Because of my role as an expert witness I will abstain from detailed comments other than to stand by my submissions, but I do note the overwhelming sense of judicial impotence expressed in the September 16 decision. The decision notes that the issues at stake involve injustice at the individual level as well as harsh dealings in terms of sovereign relations. As to the former, the legality of the regime is given as its justification, while the latter are deemed inappropriate matters for judicial intervention. Instead the plaintiffs are directed to seek redress for the personal effects of these circumstances though political and administrative channels.

In my view it was political malfunction in both the US and Canada that brought forth FATCA and then the FATCA IGA, and that FATCA as applied can be summed up in terms of administration as a case of continuous indifference to individuals who are wrongdoers in no real sense yet bear the brunt of severe punishments meant for others. If the judiciary is also not to blame and not to fix, then it seems there is no avenue to right the wrongs of FATCA anywhere. I hope that is not the case.

In any event, two days after the decision was released, the IRS announced another delay in FATCA, this time for Model 1 IGA countries. Model 1 IGA countries involve government-to-government sharing, as compared to Model 2, under which financial institutions directly report to the IRS pursuant to authority granted by their home governments. Canada has a Model 1 IGA so it could delay furnishing information to the United States if it notifies the IRS before September 30, 2015 "and provides assurance that the jurisdiction is making good faith efforts to exchange the information as soon as possible." There have been some efforts to compel the Canadian government to avail itself of this option (see, e.g., here and here), but I am not sure how to monitor the government's response.

More to come as events unfold.

Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium at McGill Law

McGill Law's annual Speigel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium kicks off today with a presentation by Roseanne Altshuler on the viability of a switch from worldwide to territorial corporate taxation in the United States. This year's colloquium will focus on the fundamentals of corporate tax policy by critically examining issues in national and international tax policy. Today's talk will take place from 14:30-17:30pm in Room 202 of New Chancellor Day Hall, 3644 Peel Ave, Montreal. Students, faculty and the McGill community in Montreal are welcome to attend.

Here is the colloquium line-up for the fall:

Monday, September 28: Rosanne Altshuler

Rosanne Altshuler is Dean of Social and Behavioral Science and a Professor of Economics at Rutgers University. She was the Chair of the Department of Economics at Rutgers from 2011 to 2015. She has written widely on federal tax policy, including her most recent article “Lessons the United States Can Learn from Other Countries’ Territorial Systems for Taxing Income of Multinational Corporations.”

Monday, October 5: Steven Dean

Steven Dean is a Professor at Brooklyn Law School and a specialist in tax law. His research addresses a range of tax and budgetary issues, including unconventional solutions to problems such as tax havens, regulatory complexity and tax shelters. His recent article, “Tax Deregulation,” considered the surprising implications of enhancing taxpayer autonomy.

Monday, November 2: Richard Murphy

Richard Murphy is a chartered accountant and economist. He is the founder of the Tax Justice Network and the director of Tax Research LLP, which undertakes work on tax policy, advocacy and research. Mr. Murphy is the co-author of several publications on tax policy, including his most recent book, “Over Here and Undertaxed: Multinationals, Tax Avoidance and You.”

Tuesday, November 10: Daniel N. Shaviro

Daniel Shaviro is a Professor of Taxation at the New York University School of Law. Professor Shaviro has written several books examining tax policy, budget policy and entitlements issues. His most recent book, “Fixing US International Taxation,” offers an analytical framework for international tax policy that sidesteps the standard worldwide taxation vs. territorial taxation framework.

Monday, November 23: Kim Brooks

Kim Brooks is Dean and Weldon Professor of Law at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University. Dean Brooks’ research focuses on corporate and international tax law and policy. She focuses on using a discrete area of tax law to understand a larger tax concept, and using the tax system to promote international economic justice. Dean Brooks has written widely on tax treaties and international taxation, including her recent chapter, “The Troubling Role of Tax Treaties” in the volume 51 of “Tax Design Issues Worldwide: A Series on International Taxation.”

Monday, November 30: Albert Baker

Albert Baker is the Global Leader in Tax Policy at Deloitte & Touche LLP, where he specializes in international tax, including mergers and acquisitions, corporate financing and corporate reorganizations. His recent research focuses on base erosion & profit shifting, a project to address concerns that current international tax frameworks result in double non-taxation, or stateless income, or reducing the tax base in high tax countries.

The Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium has been made possible by a generous grant from the law firm Spiegel Sohmer, Inc., Montreal, for the purpose of fostering an academic community in which learning and scholarship may flourish. I am delighted to welcome these distinguished guests and look forward to today's discussion.