Deduction for social assistance was only for federal or provincial social assistance

Pensions – Federal and Provincial pension plans – Federal pension plans

Taxpayer began receiving Old Age Security payments and applied for Guaranteed Income Support (GIS) payments. Taxpayer disagreed with Service Canada’s inclusion of payments from Italian government in prior year’s income, used to determine amount of GIS payments based on such income. Taxpayer’s appeal to General Division of Social Security Tribunal was referred to Tax Court of Canada and led to ruling by Tax Court judge ruled that Italian payments were foreign social assistance which were not exempted from income calculation. Taxpayer’s appeal was thus dismissed by General Division and, later, by Appeal Division of Tribunal, but only for limited time period. On judicial review, matter was remitted back to Appeal Division for redetermination of earlier period. Appeal Division dismissed appeal, finding that Tax Court’s decision meant that funds had to be counted in her income amount. Taxpayer applied for judicial review. Application dismissed. Service Canada’s initial inaccuracies, including mistaken view that Italian amount was included as “pension”, continued to haunt taxpayer’s arguments but all of errors had been corrected. Mandatory statutory framework meant that taxpayer’s arguments about misinterpretation of her income could not be addressed by Appeal Division that was held to “final and binding” interpretation of Tax Court. Tax Court judge was very clear that deduction for social assistance was only for federal or provincial social assistance. Contrary to taxpayer’s view, ruling was not limited to purpose of determining eligibility as Tax Court judge properly oriented himself to question of whether Italian funds were relevant for determining GIS amount. Appeal Division came to reasonable decision by following Tax Court ruling that had already determined that foreign social assistance had to be included in income calculation.

Fu v. Canada (Attorney General) (2020), 2020 CarswellNat 384, 2020 FC 235, Glennys L. McVeigh J. (F.C.).

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