CAE – Tax Court of Canada finds that an unconditionally repayable loan with a 2.5% yield was government assistance

CAE, which was engaged in manufacturing flight simulator systems, incurred over $700 million in R&D expenditures on further developing such systems, as to which it received “contributions” over a five-year period of $250 million from Industry Canada. Under the agreement with Industry Canada, CAE was required to repay 135% of the amounts advanced (or $337.5 million) beginning after the last advance was made and in escalating specified amounts over a 15-year period.

Were the amounts government assistance? Ouimet J agreed with CAE that the arrangement was a loan. However, he then interpreted Immunovaccine as establishing that the relevant test was whether the agreement with Industry Canada was an “ordinary commercial agreement.” He found that this test was not satisfied given that the yield on the loan to Industry Canada of 2.5% was a third of the interest that CAE would have borne on an unsecured commercial loan and that the loan lacked normal commercial covenants. As the amounts were government assistance, the amounts received or receivable in each year were excluded from qualifying expenditures for investment tax credit purposes by s. 127(18), the amounts so received were not deductible in computing income by virtue of s. 37(1)(d) and (without duplication) the amounts so receivable were includible in income under s. 12(1)(x).

Neal Armstrong. Summary of CAE Inc. v. The Queen, 2021 CCI 57 under s. 127(9) – government assistance and s. 37(1)(d).