An Interesting Analysis of an Analysis: John Richardson on Roy Berg on the Summary Trial

 


 
Stephen Kish has obtained permission from Tax Notes International to reproduce an article by Roy Berg to be posted (only there and only once) at the Alliance for the Defence of Canadian Sovereignty WordPress blog. The article is an interesting analysis of some main points regarding the Summary Trial which took place in Vancouver August 4-5, 2015.  John Richardson has taken that article, comments from the recent BNA article (linked below) and his own experience at the trial and examined how he sees the interaction. I am providing some main excerpts which will hopefully give a sense of what is involved and make you curious enough to go over and read the the article and the post.
 

On August 20, 2015,  BNA published an article on the Alliance For The Defence of Canadian Sovereignty that took place earlier this month. The article was posted by Stephen Kish at the Isaac Brock Society. As expected the article generated a large number of comments. The BNA article included the thoughts (and only the thoughts) of a number of Canadian tax practitioners.

Early Brock commentary on the Vancouver trial noted the presence the of lawyers from Moodys Gartner. The BNA article included commentary from  Moodys lawyer Roy Berg. In an article published on August 24 by Tax Notes, Mr. Berg expands on his views of the issues raised in the Vancouver trial.

A “report” on Mr. Berg’s Report …

The article, which is really a “report” of the trial, attempts three things:
First – to identify the issues raised in the Vancouver Trial

Second – to distinguish the issues raised in the Vancouver trial from the issues that are likely to be raised in the “full Charter trial”

Third – to provide his own commentary on how the issues should be resolved.

 

Having sat throught the Summary Trial, I can guarantee that trying to be clear about the issues raised, is/was not easy. What was really difficult was realizing that the interplay of the Treaty, the IGA, Canadian law, US law etc., does not end up with a nice and neat, clear answer. Determining how to weigh it all out seems to me, impossible to do (objectively). I suppose primarily because, in spite of the Treaty, one would naturally expect that in Canada, Canadian law should have precedence. The issues concern for the most part, Canadian citizens and Canadian residents, regardless of their US status. Their relationship to the United States should be a secondary one. All other nations of the world seem to understand this principle. The aberration here is as we all know, citizenship-based taxation. Why any country would sign a treaty with the US with the inevitable savings clause is truly mystifying. What does the other country gain by agreeing to such a thing? NOTHING! That, along with that annoying “tax treaty override” tendency, (say it now, U-S-A, I-G-A! U-S-A, I-G-A!) certainly suggests expecting the US to honor what is signed in a reasonable way is just plain naive and or stupid. That’s why they need the 30% sanction. Kinda like they have to have the IGA because what they are doing is not in the Treaty….A never-ending loop……
 

I encourage you to read his article. There are two areas that I found to be of interest.

We all know that Justice Martineaus’s decision will be appealed. If the plaintiffs win, this means that the Court has ruled that the information cannot be transferred to either the CRA or the IRS.

 

In his article, Mr. Berg suggets should the plaintiffs win, the defendants will likely appeal with the appeal and trial on the Canadian constitutional issues being heard later this year or by early next year. Whether or not the win would prevent the IGA entering into force is unknown. If so, it would be likely that the U.S. Treasury or the competent authorities would be likely to intervene in order to prevent such a result.
 

Imagine, the Obama’s U.S. Treasury “intervening” in a Canadian court to attempt to enforce the right of the U.S. to extract information from Canadian citizen/residents! What a spectacle that would be

 
I cannot follow how the United States would be permitted to intervene in a Canadian court proceding. As if the extraterritoriality of the entire issue is not enough, we must then endure their interference in our own judicial system? At what point do we as a separate nation, have the right to chart our own direction based upon our own best interests? I can feel your blood rising already….
 

Second, Mr. Berg’s analysis of the distinction between “assessable penalties” and other kinds of penalties. This is interesting and is an argument that is helpful to the plaintiffs.

 
This is perhaps, the most fascinating aspect of the article. If I understand correctly, should the IRS apply information reporting penalties, the plaintiffs would not have access to IRS Appeals nor the US Tax Court. The net result would be that having given the IRS the information resulting in assessment of penalties, Canada would have provided assistance in collection. The late Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty repeated this over and over and over; that Canada would not provide assistance toward the collection of FBAR penalties. And why? Because it is not in the Treaty! Does this also include other non-tax, information reporting forms penalties? I am far too tired to attempt another try at the Treaty right now but it sounds like it might.
 

Conclusion …

The “Alliance For The Defence of Canadian Sovereignty” and the STOP FATCA movement have had difficulty (so far) in generating media coverage. Mr. Berg’s commentary is an important part of the process in raising awareness of these issues. In addition, the content of the  commentary in his article was (in my opinion) fair, balanced and a welcome addition to the “FATCA debate”.

 
 
I am sure all will have plenty to say. Look forward to hearing it!
 
 

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