Tax As Instrument Of Soc & Economic Policy

This seminar considers the use of tax instruments to achieve social and economic goals. Now is a perfect time for studying this because governments around the globe – including the Canadian government – are relying on tax measures to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic challenges, including economic stimulus and reimagining the post-COVID world. Canada has also planned to introduce a Digital Services Tax. The G7 and G20 are working on tax solutions  to tax multinational enterprises. This seminar will take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to learn about tax policy in action, and more importantly, through learning tax policy, students will develop skills in legal and public policy analysis that can be applied in all areas of law.  

To take this seminar, students should have an intellectual curiosity, and be prepared to read and think like a legal professional. A detailed course outline and written guidance for each module of the class will be provided in advance.

Guest speakers will be invited to lead some discussions.

Tax Law and Policy Colloquium

This tax policy seminar is open to students who are enrolled in the “tax stream” as well as students who are interested in exploring a tax issue at a deeper level. It serves as the capstone course for the Tax Law Program. The main learning objective, as both a tangible outcome of the course and the main basis for students’ evaluations, is to help students develop and craft a piece of writing of at least 7,000 words that is expected of an entry-level lawyer in the private or public sector or of publishable quality which connects theory and policy in the tax law to outcomes in its application. More specifically, the seminar is designed to help students bring together the knowledge and skills they have developed in the tax and related courses they have taken, to further develop their critical thinking and writing abilities, and to engage them actively in the production of new knowledge in the tax field. Although the precise content of the course will vary from year to year to capture dynamic fiscal and tax policy developments in relation to fundamental tax notions, basically the seminar will involve a topics-oriented examination of current research in tax law and policy. At the end of the seminar students should have the ability to think critically and expabnsively about tax issues and to read the most sophisticated tax articles – whether theoretical or practical – critically and with understanding and to write publishable tax commentaries. There will be  scheduled classes throughout the course to discuss tax literature, topical policy issues and research methodology. Under the guidance of the instructor, students are expected to work on their chosen research project as early as possible in and throughout the term. Students will be required to present their draft papers before the end of the term by leading a seminar presentation in which all members of the class with the instructor will participate.

Taxation of Corporate Transactions

This seminar focuses on selected types of transactions typically undertaken by corporations that have significant tax implications or are motivated by tax considerations. These transactions include corporate financing, reorganizations, remunerating owner-managers, and estate freezing. It is perfect for a Praxicum – a seminar combining theory, practice and reflection. Experienced and thoughtful practitioners will lead and participate in some discussions. It is taught with Mr. Nicholas McIsaac.

By focusing on the application of the General Anti-avoidance Rule (GAAR), this seminar supplement and enhance students’ learning of tax law materials in other courses in the JD program.

Expectations of students are similar to those of junior associates at a law firm or Department of Justice (DOJ): learning the materials with guidance and supervision; applying the knowledge gained from the readings for a specific purpose, e.g., identifying their “practical” implications for a client (a taxpayer or the CRA in the case of DOJ); critically reflecting upon the practical application in the context of the overall system design, purposes, and theoretical underpinnings of the Income Tax Act; and presenting the learning outcomes orally in class or writing (in the form of a memorandum).  

To take this seminar, students should ideally have taken Taxation Law or are taking that course concurrently. Relevant corporate tax materials will be covered in this seminar so that students who have not taken the corporate tax course would be able to fully participate in the learning process. A detailed course outline and written guidance for each module of the class will be provided in advance.

It is very likely that the seminar will be taught on Zoom. Students are required to participate as if it is an in-person seminar.  

Tax Lawyering

The purpose of this seminar is to step back from the substantive context of tax law to examine the procedures and skills involved in working as a tax lawyer in various settings, whether in tax planning or tax controversy. It is structured around topics that are central to the practice of tax and will focus on the progression of a tax dispute from the planning stages through to litigation. It will review key features of the audit, assessment, and appeals process, with an emphasis on early resolution. Through the use of a case study, students will also learn about the basic structure of a tax appeal and gain familiarity with the procedures for litigating the appeal, from the perspective of the Crown and the taxpayer. This seminar is open to all students. It is required for those who wish to complete the Tax Law curriculum stream and recommended for those interested in participating in the Donald G. H. Bowman National Tax Moot.

Taxation of Business Enterprises

Taxation of Business Enterprises examines the federal income tax treatment of Canadian-resident corporations and their shareholders. The course covers the corporate tax rates on different types of income (including the small business deduction and refundable taxes on investment income), the integration system for taxing shareholders (including the tax treatment of dividends and other corporate distributions), the concept of paid-up capital, tax-deferred transfers of property to a corporation, and corporate reorganization provisions (including share-for-share exchanges, share conversions, capital reorganizations, amalgamations and liquidations).

The course explores the tax policy choices influencing Canada’s corporate income tax system, and encourages an understanding of complex statutory provisions through an appreciation of the underlying policy rationales.  The instructor will bring to the classroom numerous examples from his tax practice  experience to illustrate how Canada’s corporate tax rules apply in real-world circumstances. The course is intended to provide students pursuing business law careers with a practical understanding of foundational corporate tax principles, and is essential preparation for students pursuing further studies in taxation law.

International Taxation

This 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.

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.