International Taxation

Quick Info
(4150.04)  Course
S. Wilkie; Distinguished Professor of Practice
4 credit(s)  4 hour(s);
Lecture, discussions, problems, case studies,
Upper Year Research & Writing Requirement

This course covers one of the most dynamic and fascinating areas of tax law – taxation of cross-border transactions. In fact, the aspect of taxation described as “international taxation” is as much concerned with countries interacting with each other in relation to income earning circumstances of taxpayers as it is about the typical relationships between taxpayers and those countries’ tax regimes and tax authorities.   Because Canada has a small and open economy cross-border transactions and related relations are not only important to taxpayers and the government but they are unavoidable. Accordingly, a working awareness of how Canada’s tax system addresses the circumstances of persons from elsewhere who establish income earning connections with Canada and the circumstances of Canadians whose income earning activities extend beyond Canada’s borders is an important addition to a tax practitioner’s resources.   More broadly, the connection between “international taxation” and trade and the necessary dependence of taxation generally on a strong familiarity with private law and public law make this course an opportunity for students to develop and enhance their legal knowledge and skills from several perspectives.  Knowledge and skills learned from this course will help anyone interested in pursuing a career in law (not necessarily tax law), business or public policy.
This course builds on the knowledge and skills learned from introductory Tax Law and applies them to cross-border transactions (e.g. foreign corporations doing business or investing in Canada; Canadians doing business or investing overseas; and transactions between members of multinational corporate groups, etc.) and other relations of and among persons that may justify the taxing claims made by more than one country at the same time. In that connection, it will also cover issues concerning international tax treaties and international tax avoidance (and evasion) which continue to be topical in contemporary discussions and commentaries on “international taxation” including, notably, by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations,  the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.   While not formally a co-requisite or pre-requisite, familiarity with the taxation of corporations will be helpful to students even though students can be successful in this course without this background.  The subjects addressed in the course will be infused with attention to ongoing topical issues in international tax, most notably led by the work of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and changes being considered for Canadian taxation to enact legislation that implements Canada’s commitments to the ongoing proposals to recalibrate the international tax environmwent.

The Praxicum element of this course is satisfied in a number of ways.  First, at every stage of the course, subjects will be addressed in terms actual problem solving and practical experience, building on the professional experience of the instructor.  Students will be engaged in these discussions; their focus will be on how to assess the reasonable parameters of the tax law, making professional judgments expected to be resilient in a professional setting, and related professional, including ethical, consideratons.  Second, the course will engage several problem solving / planning exercises to which students will be expected to contribute.  Third, there is a significant tax policy element to this course which will entail reflection not only about tax law itself but also in its private and public law contexts.  Students will be expected to write a short reflection / analysis suitable for posting as a blog post on Osgoode’s tax law blog.  In this vein, the examination for this course includes both problem solving questons and, importantly a survety / reflection / policy advice question framed with reference to international developments that are contemporary with the time of the course and the exam.  Students will be expected to answer the qusetion as a problem solving exercise by reflecting on the expanse of international taxation in its contemporary setting and riting a short advisory memorandum to a responsible government official.  

A detailed Syllabus and class discussion notes will be provided to guide students’ learning.  Each segment of the course will address practical problems to anchor the studying of the substantive law and related policies and guidance by tax authorities.