Insights

The practice of law is changing every day, and the effect of changing legislation on businesses is significant. We write about recent developments in the world of tax & business law, keeping a watchful eye on the changing landscape for our clients. See what we’re thinking about, and what your business should be looking out for.

Tax Law

Netflix and Vaping: Budget 2021 Imposes Indirect Tax Measures

In Budget 2021, the Federal Government proposes a wide array of spending programs and few material tax increases for Canadians. While Budget 2021 may not appear to impose significant direct tax increases, in this article we highlight some of the indirect tax measures that could affect Canadians or even non-Canadians who own Canadian real estate. Unproductive Use of Canadian Housing Budget 2021 proposes a new 1% tax on the gross value of Canadian housing owned by non-Canadians considered to be “vacant” or “underused”. This tax will be imposed annually starting in 2022. More details on this new tax will come…


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Tax Law

Federal Budget 2021: Consumption Tax on Luxury Goods Favoured over Wealth Tax

“It is fair to ask those who have prospered in this bleak year to do a little more to help those who have not. That is why we are introducing a luxury tax.” – Federal Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, April 19, 2021. Tax initiatives targeting high-net-worth individuals have been rumoured for almost as long as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has been in power. Speculation was further fueled by the Prime Minister’s mandate letter to newly minted Federal Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, to “identify additional ways to tax extreme wealth inequality.” That was January 15, 2021. As of April…


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Tax Law

Canada’s 2021 Budget: A Sigh of Relief?

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and increased government spending over the last year, tax advisors anticipated that the Federal Government’s 2021 budget (Budget 2021) would include significant tax increases aimed at the wealthiest Canadians who should, in the government’s view, shoulder the financial burden of the pandemic. Instead, Budget 2021 has taken a less obvious approach to achieving its stated objective of fairness in tax policy, focusing its messaging on new or extended spending measures to provide support for families and businesses affected by the pandemic. In the words of Deputy Prime Minister and federal Finance Minister, Chrystia…


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Litigation

Purchasers Issued Expensive Reminder to Respect Closing Obligations

On January 12, 2021 the Alberta Court of Appeal issued its decision in H&C S Holdings PTE Ltd v Pengrowth Energy Corporation, 2020 ABCA 473, upholding the 2019 decision of Justice R.A. Neufeld of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench. This decision issues a stark reminder to purchasers of the consequences that can flow from failing to adhere to their contractual closing obligations. The purchaser was a start-up energy company formed by veteran oil executives. It entered into a contract to purchase certain oil and gas assets from the vendors for $180,000,000 and provided an $18,000,000 deposit under the purchase...

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Litigation

Dissolution Not a Shield to Oppression Claims

Our article focuses on the recent Alberta Court of Appeal decision of 698829 Alberta Ltd. v Elite Homes (1998) Ltd. et al., 2020 ABCA 154 ("Friesen"). This case serves as a reminder of the liabilities of a dissolved corporation and that dissolution does not protect a directing mind from claims of oppression. This decision is of interest considering the current economic conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased number of struggling businesses. Background 698829 Alberta Ltd. ("698") and Elite Homes (1998) Ltd. ("Elite") entered into a joint venture agreement ("JVA") wherein 698 contributed $692,626 to assist in the...

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Litigation

An Important Update on Employee Bonuses

Supreme Court ruling entitles employees to bonuses after termination if within reasonable notice period Our focus in this article is the recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Matthews v Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd., 2020 SCC 6 (“Matthews”).  Being touted a landmark ruling in employment law, Matthews should be of interest to Canadians who receive any kind of bonus or commission.  We carry on below to address the interplay between Matthews and the important Alberta Court of Appeal decision in Styles v Alberta Investment Management Corporation, 2017 ABCA 1 (“Styles”), which clarified the law with respect to how...

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Uncategorized

Do You Need To Update Your Will?

Do You Need to Update Your Will? We often discuss the importance of putting a Will in place. However, in some cases, having an out-of-date Will may be more problematic than not having a Will in place at all. The following example is illustrative. Ali’s Current Will At the time the Will was drafted, Ali was married to Brett. They had two children, Austin (12) and Blake (15). A lawyer prepared mirrored Wills (i.e. two individual, almost identical Wills, where the terms of each Will reflect those of the other). Both Wills have the following terms: ·         The surviving spouse…


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Tax & Estate Planning

When to Review Your Estate Plan

While death and divorce may be clear indicators that a review of Will is needed, a variety of life events can impact your estate planning, from starting a new business venture to welcoming a new member of your family. These changes may impact not just your Will but also your Enduring Power of Attorney or Personal Directive. The following table presents a non-exhaustive list of circumstances that should prompt a review of your estate plan. When to Review Your Will A non-exhaustive list of circumstances that should prompt a review of your estate plan A. Changes in Family Relations ·        …


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Tax & Estate Planning

The Modernization of the Estate Planning Process?

A Discussion of Recent Changes in BC and Alberta Remote Signings Officially Possible in Alberta Back in May, we excitedly announced that Wills, Enduring Powers of Attorney, and Personal Directives could be validly signed and witnessed via video conference in Alberta. While that was technically true, it became immediately clear that further guidance would be required in order to make the process workable. The initial language allowed witnessing to occur virtually, but it did not specify that each witness could sign a separate but identical version of each page of a Will (i.e. it did not allow counterpart signature pages)….


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Tax & Estate Planning

Virtual Witnessing of Estate Planning Documents (COVID-19)

The Provinces of Alberta and British Columbia have recently passed Ministerial Orders which will temporarily allow for the virtual witnessing of Wills, Enduring Powers of Attorney, Personal Directives (Alberta), and Representation Agreements (BC), provided certain requirements are met. Notably, the BC Order requires that the relevant document be witnessed by a lawyer or notary public, while the Alberta Order requires that the individual making the document receives advice from a lawyer respecting the making, signing and witnessing of the document. Effective from May 15, 2020 (in Alberta) and May 19, 2020 (in BC), individuals who wish to make or update…


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