Hunt – Tax Court of Canada finds that the advantage tax is a tax, not a penalty

S. 207.05 imposes the 100% advantage tax on the controlling individual of a registered plan, and s. 207.06 authorizes the Minister to waive such tax having regard to listed criteria. The following Rule 58 question was posed to Bocock J:

Is the charge imposed by either or both of sections 207.05 and 207.06 of the Act in law a penalty or a tax?

Bocock J appeared to accept that the relevant context for this question was that “[i]f section 207.05 were a penalty, a due diligence defence applies, and a successful defence renders non-qualified income free of tax,” i.e., if the provision imposed a penalty there would be a due diligence defence rather than any relief being confined to that potentially provided under s. 207.06. However, he went on to find that the provisions did not impose a penalty given inter alia that the “tax” was labelled as such and given that although “a tax may have characteristics so clearly coercive and disproportionate that one concludes it is a penalty … this case does not meet that standard.”

He also found that the discretion accorded to the Minister under in s. 207.06 (being a constrained rather than unfettered discretion) did not have the effect of improperly delegating to the Minister a tax-rate setting discretion contrary to s. 53 of the Constitution Act, 1867.

Neal Armstrong. Summaries of Hunt v. The Queen, 2022 TCC 672022 TCC 67 under s. 207.05(2) and Constitution Act, 1867, s. 53.