Canada: Canadian Federal Court pulls the reins in (slightly) on foreign information requests
Jean Marc Gagnon
In Amdocs Canadian Managed Services Inc. (ACMS), the Federal Court denied the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) request under section 231.7 of the Income Tax Act, Canada (Act) to compel ACMS to provide the CRA with documents and information requested in the course of a transfer pricing audit.
The CRA alleged that queries had not been satisfactorily answered, leaving the CRA in a position where it would have to audit and assess ACMS based on incomplete information.
ACMS contended that although the documents requested were not within its control, it had taken reasonable steps to obtain the information and provide it to the CRA. ACMS submitted that it could not be compelled to provide documents that are not in its possession or control or to create documents that did not exist. If such documents existed, they were located outside Canada, outside ACMS's control and did not fall within the provisions supporting the CRA's application.
The judge noted that it is within the CRA's prerogative to request information over the course of the audit, and found that ACMS had failed to comply in this regard. He also found that ACMS had made reasonable efforts to acquire the documentation at issue, thereby falling within an exception to complying with information requests. Noting that there was no purpose in ordering ACMS to do something it could not do, the judge declined to grant the CRA the relief sought.
Although the taxpayer was successful in this case, the judge acknowledged the CRA's broad discretion to request information from taxpayers during an audit and that other provisions of the Act would have better served CRA's interest. The CRA may have to be more accepting of taxpayers that have made reasonable efforts to comply with its requests but are unable to do so, or be more specific in its information requests.
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