Imposition of GST on lawyers’ fees did not infringe Charter rights

Tax court of Canada | Taxation

SERVICES TAX

Imposition of GST on lawyers’ fees did not infringe Charter rights

Determination of question of whether or not imposition of GST on lawyers’ fees for criminal defence services infringed rights of registrants’ clients under s. 10(b) of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms on appeal by registrant from assessment and imposition of interest and penalty under Excise Tax Act (Can.). Registrant law corporation failed to collect and remit GST on legal services it provided. It was determined that imposition of GST on lawyers’ fees did not infringe client’s Charter rights. It could not be said that s. 165(1) of Act had specific purpose of taxing legal services in defence of state-sponsored prosecution. Parliament did not single out those particular services for different treatment under provision and registrant failed to show that s. 165(1) of Act had invalid purpose. Registrant did not provide any reasonably imaginable circumstances or hypotheticals that would demonstrate breach of s. 10 (b) rights. Right to counsel under s. 10(b) of Charter was not ongoing right throughout preparation and hearing stages, but was limited to time surrounding arrest or detention. Constitutionality of GST on criminal defence services was not question of law alone, and it was not apparent on its face that tax would impede access to counsel.
Stanley J. Tessmer Law Corp. v. R. (Jan. 28, 2013, T.C.C. [General Procedure], B. Paris J., File No. 2007-3627(GST)G, 2007-3628(GST)G, 2007-3629(GST)G, 2007-3630(GST)G, 2007-3631(GST)G) 224 A.C.W.S. (3d) 508.

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