Bourgault – Tax Court of Canada independently assesses whether a rectification judgment was “justifiably obtained”

The written agreement for the purchase by the taxpayer of shares of a real estate corporation (“Quatre Saisons”) stated that the purchase price was to be satisfied by the payment to the vendor (“Placeval”) of 50%, then 30%, of the sales proceeds of real property of Quatre Saisons - and then sewed confusion by stating that such proceeds were to be paid to Placeval as commissions. Those percentage amounts in fact were paid by Quatre Saisons directly to Placeval and CRA assessed the taxpayer for shareholder benefits under s. 15(1). Two months after this assessment, the Quebec Superior Court issued an order for the rectification of the agreement to change the stated purchase price to $1. Before assessing, CRA was aware of the application for this judgment, but did not see fit to intervene, so that the Crown was not a party to the application.

Before granting the taxpayer’s appeal from the assessment, Favreau J first indicated that the Crown was not bound by the Court order “as neither the Attorney General of Canada nor the Minister was involved in the application,” and also found that the judgment was not “res judicata.” He nonetheless found that “The parties justifiably obtained the judgment of the Superior Court to rectify the situation” in light of evidence that from the outset they had been consistently treating (e.g., in their financial statements and in invoicing procedures for services performed) the payments made by Quatre Saisons to Placeval as commissions rather than sales proceeds.

Neal Armstrong. Summary of Bourgault v. The Queen, 2019 CCI 6 under General Concepts – Rectification.