Article from U.S. Tax Lawyer Stanley C. Ruchelman and Toronto lawyer Sunita Doobay about the @ADCSovereignty #FATCA Canada lawsuit. The article is a good argument for donating to the appeal – this issue needs to go to the Supreme Court of Canada! https://t.co/BDHY0vorwm pic.twitter.com/e4M06HIPmY
— U.S. Citizen Abroad (@USCitizenAbroad) December 3, 2019
All I can say is that if you read the article referenced in the above tweet you will see why the FATCA lawsuits are important. An excerpt includes:
Deegan v. Canada
A similar conclusion was reached in Deegan v. Canada.18 The provisions of the Implementation Act and Sections 263 to 269 of the Income Tax Act, R.S.C. 1985 (5th Supp.), were challenged by individuals who were accidental Americans.
The plaintiffs alleged that those provisions cause Canada to act as an intermediary between Canadian financial institutions and the I.R.S. Those institutions are required to provide C.R.A. with certain information concerning financial accounts belonging to customers whose account information suggests that they may be U.S. persons. C.R.A. then provides that information to the I.R.S. As a result, the plaintiffs alleged that the provisions of the Implementation Act violate the Canadian Constitution,19 asserting that they constitute an unreasonable seizure of financial information belonging to U.S. persons in Canada. The plaintiffs also alleged that the information exchange under the Implementation Act violated other provisions of the Canadian Constitution because they singled out individuals based on citizenship or national or ethnic origin.20 Finally, the plaintiffs alleged that the violations do not constitute reasonable limitations on the privacy and equality rights of affected individuals.21
The Federal Court disagreed with the allegations and held that the disputed provisions of the Implementation Act are not unreasonable and do not violate the Canadian Constitution.
The information that is obtained by C.R.A. from Canadian financial institutions is not an unreasonable search and seizure. Departing from the approach taken under the revenue rule, the Federal Court determined that an expectation of privacy is appropriate principally when a Canadian statute is criminal or quasi-criminal in nature. Reporting of tax information by Canadian financial institutions to C.R.A., and ultimately to the I.R.S., does not fit into that protected framework. Tax is essentially a regulatory statute, and the information relates to the manner in which income tax is calculated and collected. Hence, a lesser expectation of privacy exists.
The Federal Court also disagreed with the plaintiff’s assertion that the information is not of a kind that is regularly obtained under the Income Tax Act and therefore should not be delivered to C.R.A. Following the holding in Hillis v. Canada, the banking information is foreseeably relevant to U.S. tax compliance and can be obtained by C.R.A. pursuant to a request from the I.R.S. under Article XXVII of the Treaty.
To the extent that the disputed provisions draw a distinction based on national origin and citizenship, they are not discriminatory. In reaching its decisions, the Federal Court took into account the detailed negotiations that were carried on by the Canadian government, attempting to negotiate a carve-out for Canada. When the Canadian government realized that a carve-out was not possible, it realized that entering into an I.G.A. was the only way to avoid a potentially devastating effect on the Canadian financial sector.
The plaintiffs alleged that the purpose of the Implementation Act was to assist the U.S. government in implementing F.A.T.C.A. and finding U.S. tax evaders and cheats, a purpose that cannot be described as pressing and substantial for the Canadian government or Canadian residents. However, at the same time that Canada was negotiating its I.G.A. with the U.S. government, the O.E.C.D. was involved in developing and implementing a common standard for the automatic multilateral exchange of financial account information along the lines of the I.G.A. Hence, the Implementation Act could not be said to be out of line with global expectations of financial privacy.
Finally, the argument that the Implementation Agreement resulted in discrimination based on citizenship and national origin were misplaced. The Federal Court held that a classification based on national origin is a form of discrimination only where it perpetuates ongoing disadvantages or prejudice. That is not the case where compliance with laws of a country of citizenship are in issue.
The Charter does not require Canada to assist persons resident in this country in avoiding their obligations under duly-enacted laws of another democratic state, nor does it require this country to shelter those living in Canada from the reach of foreign laws. Indeed, as was noted earlier, insulating persons resident in this country from their obligations under duly-enacted laws of another democratic state is not a value that section 15 of the Charter was designed to foster.
Overall, the arguments raised by the plaintiffs paled in comparison to benefits that are derived by the banking industry in Canada. The I.G.A. was necessary for Canadian financial institutions to be deemed compliant with the requirements of F.A.T.C.A. and simplified the related data gathering obligations. In sum, the Implementation Act allowed Canadian financial institutions to avoid 30% withholding taxes on the receipt of capital payments on loans to U.S. residents and simplified the information gathering that would otherwise have been required under F.A.T.C.A.
(The author appears to imagine the the purpose of the Charter of Rights is to protect the banks.)
Notice that the “U.S. Centric” tone to the article which underscores why the FATCA lawsuits (both here and in the UK) must continue!