Fournier – Court of Quebec finds that a taxpayer could reverse an assessment for a taxable benefit by subsequently engaging in self-help rectification

The ARQ assessed the taxpayer and his wife for taxable benefits for a period of approximately 2 ½ years on the alleged basis that during that period they occupied on a rent-free basis a condo that was owned by a non-arm’s length corporation. (Along with many other missing key facts, including the role of the taxpayer’s wife, the judgment did not describe the corporation’s ownership or why the taxable benefit was assessed under the Quebec equivalent of s. 56(2) rather than s. 15(1).) Apparently well after these assessments, the taxpayer entered into a “correcting” notarial deed with the corporation to move back the date of the transfer of ownership of the condo unit to him from the corporation from the end to the beginning of this 2 ½ year period.

Guénard JCQ found that this amendment “did not rewrite history” but instead “achieved an accurate reflection of what the parties wished to write down from the outset” in light of convincing testimony of the taxpayer that it was intended that he be the owner “from Day 1,” which was corroborated by him and his wife having borne the utilities and municipal taxes during the 2 ½ year period, and by a hypothec, where the taxpayer was named as the grantor. No taxable benefit was applicable.

Neal Armstrong. Summary of Fournier v. Agence du revenu du Québec, 2018 QCCQ 786 under General Concepts – Rectification.