bcIMC – B.C. Court of Appeal indicates that enforcement of a reciprocal taxation agreement was possible pursuant to the Federal Court Act

bcIMC is a BC Crown agent which was formed to manage and hold investments for the provincial pension plans. The governing Act created a statutory trust under which each pension plan only had an entitlement to units in the investment pools managed by bcIMC and did not have ownership in any investment pool assets.

CRA took the view (and ultimately assessed bcIMC for $40M in uncollected GST on the basis) that ETA s. 267.1(5)(a) deemed the statutory trust to be a person separate from bcIMC as agent for the provincial Crown, so that the investment services of bcIMC were supplied to that separate person. Willcock JA found that s. 267.1(5)(a) indeed had this effect, which was an “effect of separating the Crown from its assets” and that instead “bcIMC is immune from Canada’s taxation” under s. 125 of the Constitution Act, 1867.

However, he found that such immunity was taken away by the reciprocal taxation agreement between B.C. and Canada in which the Province committed itself and its agents to pay any tax imposed under the ETA. He stated that “agreements between the federal and provincial governments may be mere political agreements,” but found that the terms of the Agreement here evinced an intention to be legally bound, and stated that “enforcement of the [Agreement] is possible” pursuant to s. 19 of the Federal Court Act (Canada) and s. 1(1)(a) of the Federal Courts Jurisdiction Act (B.C.).

Neal Armstrong. Summary of British Columbia Investment Management Corp. v. Canada (A. G.), 2018 BCCA 47 under Constitution Act, 1867, s. 125.