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Monday, March 25, 2019

Monday, March 25, 2019
Vern Krishna says a proposal contained in the federal budget ‘will be long, complex and uncertain, and uncertainty and complexity lead to litigation.’

FEDERAL BUDGET REACTION

The cap on employee stock options — part of the tax changes in the federal Liberal’s 2019 budget — are vaguely defined and will lead to confusion and litigation, say tax lawyers.

In the budget, released March 19, the government proposed placing an annual cap on stock options for employees of “long-established, mature firms” at $200,000.

Those working at “startups and rapidly growing” businesses will not be subject to this change. Currently, employee stock options get special tax treatment, allowing for an income inclusion deduction, which makes the income incurred from the option taxable at close to the capital gains rate, and this can be realized by employees at any type of company. The problem lies in the definitions, say tax lawyers.

What a startup, a rapidly growing Canadian business and a mature business are may be hard to translate into legislative language, says TaxChambers LLP counsel and University of Ottawa law professor Vern Krishna.

“I can assure you that the legislation enacting that provision will be long, complex and uncertain, and uncertainty and complexity lead to litigation,” Krishna says.

“The underlining policy proposal is understandable and one is sympathetic to the objectives, but the implementation of it will be complicated,” he says.

To interpret how these rules will apply, there will likely be a standard capital threshold, age of company and number of employees determined by the government, says Katy Pitch, a partner at Wildeboer Dellelce LLP.

“It’ll create a lot of work for tax lawyers, so I’m not upset about that,” she says.

LAW PROFESSOR WINS PRIZE

Audrey Macklin, a professor at the University of Toronto, has won the Ludwik and Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize, said the school in an announcement of its alumni association’s 2019 Awards of Excellence. The university said Macklin’s work on behalf of then-Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr was one reason she won the prize.

TORYS REHIRES U.S. TECH LAWYER

Lawyer Kristine Di Bacco, who spent more than 10 years working with California technology companies at Fenwick & West LLP in the U.S., rejoined Torys LLP as a partner, the firm announced on March 7. 

Di Bacco will run a new practice within Torys — Emerging Technology Companies and Venture Capital — out of Toronto, according to the announcement. 

LAW TIMES POLL

Law Times asked readers if they agree with widening the scope of family law matters that paralegals can address. Respondents were split.

About 57 per cent of respondents said they agreed with widening the scope for paralegals in family law, saying the expanded scope could be one of the Law Society of Ontario’s most important accomplishments.

Another 43 per cent of respondents disagreed and said widening the scope is not a good way to proceed.

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