PwC Canada – Corporate Responsibility

A Message from Our CEO

PwC’s Bill McFarland discusses the firm’s commitment to corporate responsibility

At PwC, we understand that we have a role to play in being part of the solution to global challenges. We have a responsibility to help strengthen trust and integrity within the debate on how to create a more sustainable future for generations to come.

In this, our fourth annual Corporate Responsibility Highlights publication, we outline some of our achievements on this journey as well as some challenges we’ve faced and will face in the future.

Over the past year, we’ve established a new Corporate Responsibility (CR) strategy globally. We aim to:

  • Do the right thing, which means playing our part in promoting responsible business practices that are central to our own business – from the quality of our services and building an inclusive workplace to our engagement with communities and our environmental footprint. 
  • Be a catalyst for change, which is about using our skills, voices and relationships to work with others and influence activities that make a difference, create change and have a lasting impact on the world around us.

In order to achieve these goals, we will continue to focus our efforts on four areas where we can make relevant and significant contributions:

1 responsible business

2   people, diversity and inclusion

3  community engagement and

4  environmental stewardship.

http://www.pwc.com/ca/en/corporate-responsibility/index.jhtml

 

Our role in creating a sustainable society

PwC is the market leader in providing sustainability services to large global organizations. Our sustainability teams operate in over 40 countries helping organizations integrate sustainable business practices into the very fabric of their processes, systems and supply chains.

We provide assistance to clients to build business value by evaluating the entire sustainability picture—both challenges and opportunities—and incorporating effective solutions for CR programs, climate change, CR reporting, and chain of custody/supply chain risk management and sustainability management systems. Our Canadian practice is part of a Global Sustainable Business Solutions (SBS) network comprised of 500 practitioners in 40 countries, serving 50 of the Fortune 100 companies.

As we strive to be catalysts for change, we have provided Consulting and Deals, Tax and Audit and Assurance services through our SBS practice to a wide range of clients since the 1990s. Our clients are from a range of industries including retail, entertainment and media, mining, energy and utilities, and forest and paper.

 Today many corporations are doing their part to help save the environment, improve people living conditions and make our world a better place to live.

There are many challenges facing us, such as global warming, population increase expected to reach 9 billion by 2050 and fresh water resources decreasing by 2025.

Discussion Questions:

1.      Do you see any Career opportunities with PwC?

2.      Are we taking enough steps to change business attitudes that money or profits are not the only deciding factors to quantify success?

3.      Do you know of any Corporate Socially Responsible corporations.

You may read more on the PwC’s Corporate Responsibility: Click here

Other CSR, corporations:  Visit this site Unilever Sustainable Living Plan

Article obtained from PWC:  Click to read the complete article written byCEO, Bill McFarland ,from PWC

 

 

Richest CEOs earn 189 times average Canadian

September 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Accounting Careers, Canadian Economy

The highest paid CEOs have gained more ground in Canada, and are now making nearly 200 times the average Canadian wage, according to a new report.

ceo-salary cdn

 

The 100 highest paid chief executives whose companies are listed on the TSX composite index made an average of $8.38 million in 2010, according to figures pulled from circulars by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a left-leaning think-tank.

That’s 189 times higher than the $44,366 an average Canadian made working full time in 2010, the report says. And it’s a 27 per cent raise from the $6.6 million average compensation for the top 100 CEOs in 2009.

Most Canadians, on the other hand, have seen their wages stagnate over the past few years. In 2010, after adjusting for inflation, average wages actually fell.

“The gap between Canada’s CEO elite 100 and the rest of us is growing at a fast and steady pace, with no signs of letting up,” says economist Hugh Mackenzie, who authored the report.

“The extraordinarily high pay of chief executive officers is more than a curiosity. It actually is a reflection of a troubling redistribution of society’s resources in Canada and the United States, and in most of Western Europe,” he said in an interview.

Stock options for bonuses

He points out that in 1998, the top 100 CEOs were paid 105 times the average wage. Since then, the ratio has generally climbed. In 2008, it was 174, dropping back to 155 during the recession in 2009. The high-water mark was 2007, when it peaked above 190.

It means that by noon on Jan. 3, the average top executive will have already made as much money as the average Canadian worker makes in a year.

The driving forces behind the inequality gap are complex, and lie in the structure of executive compensation packages, Mackenzie says.

Consultants giving advice to corporate boards on how much to pay their CEOs only compare to other CEOs, perpetually driving up the average in the race to be above-average, he explains.

And many companies use stock options for a large part of their executives’ bonuses, a practice that not only drives up pay packages but also ties compensation to share price rather than company performance.

 Discussion Questions:

1. Do you agree that Chief Executive Officers (CEO) should be making over $8,000,000 on average per year?

2. Do you CEO’s have  a greater risk of being sued or fired for non-performance?

3. Have your professor explain to you: Stock Options

Watch the Video Executive Excess: CEO Salary

To read more see: CBC News Canada CEO’s Salary

Source: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

 

Canadian’s firm used in huge Russian tax scandal, plus How the Rich hide their money!

Caribbean agency helped set up offshore companies connected to $230M scam

It’s a tale with the cloak-and-dagger intrigue of a Hollywood thriller: a $230-million heist, corrupt Russian police and government officials, prison beatings, a dead lawyer, Kafkaesque trials and a diplomatic spat between international superpowers.

And now, for the first time, secret files obtained exclusively in Canada by CBC News reveal how a Canadian-run offshore company in the Caribbean enabled the transfer of some of that money into a labyrinth of shell corporations around the world in a scandal known as the Magnitsky affair.

To read the complete article visit: CBC Business

Federal Budget passes a few weeks ago, to curb offshore

The federal government is taking aim at tax loopholes and Canadians who hide money offshore as part of a bid to boost its revenue base.

Follow the interactive Link below:How the rich hide money$

Tax havens explained: How the rich hide money

Super wealthy have vast array of options to take cash offshore

Recent leaks of secret banking information have helped authorities around the world crack down on tax cheats who go offshore, resulting in billions of dollars recovered for the public purse. Now, in one of the biggest ever leaks of financial data, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has released data on a whopping 120,000 secret offshore entities in 10 different jurisdictions.

Read more about how unscrupulous investors hire high-priced lawyers and financial advisers to move money offshore in the interactive below. Select the blue button to make choices and move through each step.

Read more of CBC’s coverage of the massive leak of offshore data and how tax havens sell secrecy in our special series.

During this coming week, follow the news on offshore accounts and the people that invest in them.

 

Discussion Questions:

1. What are some of the controls that government should implement to reduce offshore investments?

2. Why do you suppose  all those Tax Haven Countries exist?

3. Should it be illegal for Lawyers and Accountants to set up offshore accounts, no matter what the reason?

 

 

A modest proposal : Tax Haven

THE rampant use of tax havens by large companies to reduce their tax bills has been moving up political agendas.

Tax Havens

The G8 and G20 have called for action to curb the practice. They worry that the international network of treaties and rules designed to avoid the double taxation of multinationals has instead allowed them to enjoy widespread double non-taxation. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which crafts international tax rules and guidelines, recently produced a report on profit-shifting and has promised to unveil firm proposals by the summer of 2013.

It is unclear precisely what the OECD will recommend, but it appears to be leaning towards patching up the existing framework rather than embracing an entirely new approach. Many independent tax experts—those who don’t work for multinationals—argue that this would be a missed opportunity, given how easy it has become to game the system.

How do we fix the tax avoidance problem?

One of the most intriguing (and refreshingly straightforward) comes from Jeffery Kadet, a former tax partner with Arthur Andersen, who now teaches at the University of Washington School of Law. Mr Kadet believes the answer lies in adopting a “worldwide full-inclusion” system of corporate taxation, an approach that has received surprisingly little attention, given its merits. Here’s his proposal:

Profit Shifting

We see in the media almost daily items about the detrimental effects of tax havens in general and corporate profit-shifting in particular. Profit-shifting is the structuring by multinationals of their cross-border operations to minimize taxes imposed in both their home countries and the countries where they actually operate, and the movement of those profits through legal planning into subsidiaries in low-tax jurisdictions. The goal is to achieve “double non-taxation”: no tax in countries where operations and revenues occur and no tax in the company’s home country.

So successful has big business been at achieving this goal—and thus eroding the tax bases of both leading economic powers and developing countries—that the issue has shot up the agendas of the OECD, the G8 and the G20. All are looking for solutions.

Some proposed solutions

Countries are urged, for instance, to tighten rules on “transfer pricing” of transactions between subsidiaries in different countries; or to strengthen their “general anti-avoidance rules”. Such rules might make profit-shifting a bit more difficult, but they won’t solve the problem. The same goes for country-by-country financial reporting, which would make profit-shifting easier to identify but wouldn’t eliminate the motivation to seek double non-taxation.

That motivation will only disappear if management knows that the group’s worldwide income will always be taxed, and that no amount of planning or developing complex schemes can avoid it. That is why the only real solution is to force current (ie, non-deferred) taxation on 100% of a multinational’s worldwide income, with no exceptions.

What mechanisms could accomplish this?

One that’s sometimes discussed is “unitary” taxation, under which all countries agree to a formula that would allocate the worldwide profits of each company among the countries in which it has operations, employees, assets and revenues. Each country would then tax its allocated share at its domestic tax rate.

Allocation Formula

This approach has merit. However, it is hard to imagine countries around the world agreeing on an allocation formula, including rules covering details like where to locate valuable intangible property. Then there’s the Herculean effort of implementing the system through domestic legislation in each country. And unless all countries signed up, the system would likely result in some double taxation and some double non-taxation.

Full Inclusion System

Fortunately there is another way forward, and it is one that could work even if adopted by less than all countries and in varying forms that reflect individual countries’ needs. It would require the countries that embraced it to abandon the “territorial” and “deferral” systems that have become popular and instead adopt a worldwide “full-inclusion” system.

 So what is a worldwide full-inclusion system? And how would it significantly dampen a company’s enthusiasm for profit-shifting?

Under this approach, each company’s home country would impose its normal corporate-tax rate on the group’s worldwide income. Importantly, this would include income earned by foreign subsidiaries, and deferral would not be allowed. A foreign tax-credit mechanism would prevent the double taxation that would otherwise occur from the same income being taxed once in countries where operations occur or revenue is earned and then a second time by the home country.

As a result, 100% of the group’s earnings would be subject to at least the home-country tax rate. Complex structures and schemes to move profits into tax havens would no longer be effective since even these offshore earnings would be swept up and taxed currently as earned by the home country. The motivation for such profit-shifting vanishes.

Can it actually be implemented?

 Economists may have mixed feelings about a worldwide full-inclusion system. They often point out that taxation systems that focus on the “source” of income have a number of theoretical attractions. Some also argue that “residency” (ie, home-country taxation of everything) is not a great basis on which to build a tax system because place of incorporation and management and control, the most typical determinants of residency, can be easily manipulated. However, it is clear in today’s globalised world that the profit-shifting incentive created by “source”-based taxation systems is so strong that it far outweighs any theoretical benefits these systems might provide.

Moreover, there are other benefits of adopting the full-inclusion system. It should create a more level competitive playing field within each country among homegrown multinationals, foreign multinationals that do business there and purely domestic businesses. The last of these are at a big disadvantage under the present system because they don’t have the same opportunities to reduce taxes using offshore structures. Under a full-inclusion system, there would be a more level playing field globally for multinationals from different countries as each would be subject to a minimum level of taxation as imposed by its home country. Competition will not be played out through which multinational is more creative or aggressive in its tax planning.

Another benefit is simplification. While the transition period could be messy, in the long run the new system would be more straightforward than today’s tax labyrinth.

Finally, there would be a feelgood benefit. Multinationals stand accused of not paying their “fair share” of taxes. With a worldwide full-inclusion system in place, the home country’s tax rate, which presumably defines “fair share”, would apply to all. So, in the future, big companies could avoid being labelled as “immoral” or “unethical”, at least in regard to their taxpaying habits.

To read the full article click , The Economist , A Modest Proposal

 Canada to clamp down on corporate tax dodging

Ontario is urging the federal government to help them clamp down on corporate tax dodging.

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa is asking for help to close loopholes that allow corporations to avoid paying taxes by shifting their profits and losses across Canada.

He says it could bring in $200 million by 2017, according to the commission that made recommendations last year on how Ontario could slay its $12-billion deficit.

In his letter to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Revenue Minister Gail Shea, Sousa says some companies also shift profits earned in Ontario to foreign subsidiaries to avoid paying tax.

Click on CBC News for more details on, Ont. wants feds’ help closing corporate tax loopholes”

 Discussion Questions

1. Do you believe that corporate loopholes can be put in place to capture full taxation from public corporations?

2. The Full Inclusion System recommends taxing profits from all countries, is this approach feasible and achievable?

3. What system would you implement to ensure that corporations pay their fair share of taxes?

 

 

Former SNC-Lavalin CEO arrested on fraud charges

Anti-Corruption Squad

Quebec’s anti-corruption squad has arrested former SNC-Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime, charging him and Riadh Ben Aissa, ex-head of the company’s construction arm, with fraud in connection with construction contracts for a Montreal super-hospital.

Duhaime stepped down from SNC-Lavalin in March after an investigation revealed he signed off on $56 million in “improper payments,” to undisclosed agents, breaching the company’s code of ethics.

SNC-Lavalin spokeswoman Leslie Quinton issued a statement Wednesday, saying the company “has and will continue to co-operate fully with all authorities who request our assistance” and that it has “voluntarily turned over information” to authorities.

Authorities in Canada and Switzerland have been conducting a widening probe of the company’s dealings, including in Libya, focusing on $195 million in payments by SNC-Lavalin.

On Sunday, a joint investigation by CBC/Radio-Canada and Swiss public Broadcaster revealed the Swiss probe is examining $139 million in payments to a Swiss bank account tied to mega-construction contracts in Libya. That’s in addition to $56 million in “improper payments” identified by the company last spring, when Duhaime was forced to resign.

Widening investigation

Swiss investigators are trying to determine who approved a string of multimillion-dollar payments by SNC-Lavalin International now at the centre of the case. Sources have told CBC/Radio-Canada that Swiss investigators have questioned six high-level SNC-Lavalin executives, and hope to question three more, as they hold Ben Aissa in jail.

Geneva-based lawyer Roland Kaufmann is facing similar charges of money laundering and corruption in connection with the case.

Ben Aissa oversaw global construction projects and forged close ties to the Gadhafi regime in Libya, winning the company billions in contracts to build an airport, a prison, and a major water distribution project.

SNC-Lavalin says it has handed its records documenting payments to the two companies to Swiss authorities, but that it is unaware of any “misuse of the funds.”

Ian Lee, a professor of international business at the Sprott School of Business, says large corporations face risks when they do business in corrupt countries.

“It’s a real dilemma,” he told CBC News. “If you don’t pay bribes, the chances are you won’t get the contract. And if you do, there’s a very good chance you’ll go to jail in Canada.” He said with some countries, “you have to walk away.”

Shares of SNC-Lavalin Group fell 92 cents to close at $39.99 in TSX trading Wednesday, from a 52 week high of $54 .

Click to view the TSX quotes

 Discussion Questions:

1. In order to do business in certain countries, you need to bribe. In your opinion do you believe this to be a true statement?

2. Why are bribes in certain countries tolerated?

3. As a Forensic Accountant, what steps would you take to detect bribes in large multinational corporations?

Click to read more on SNC-Lavalin

 

 

 

 

Managing the message: Canada’s new anti-spam law sets a high bar

Managing the message: Canada’s new anti-spam law sets a high bar

New laws target electronic communications

Canada’s Anti-Spam Law  (CASL), expected to come into force in 2013, will be one of the toughest of its kind in the world. Texts, tweets, Facebook posts and emails will all fall under its purview. In fact, CASL and its regulations will apply to any electronic message sent in connection with a “commercial activity,” even if it is sent without the expectation of making a profit. Simply encouraging participation in a commercial activity is enough to get caught by this Act.

 Consent is a key feature of CASL

According to the new law, Canadian and global organizations that send commercial electronic messages (CEMs) within, from or to Canada need the permission of their recipients to send those messages, with very limited exceptions. This is in stark contrast to the US anti-spam law, which allows CEMs to be sent without permission until a recipient “opts-out”. The result? Organizations will need to amend their electronic marketing practices and update their customer relationship management databases to comply with CASL’s stricter consent model.

Are you prepared to comply before CASL comes into effect?

A focus on enforcement

The Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Competition Bureau will all play a role in enforcing CASL. In addition to sharing information among themselves, these agencies can coordinate with foreign jurisdictions to pursue violators.

Organizations that don’t comply risk serious penalties:

• Up to $10 million per violation for corporations

• Criminal charges for organizations that make false or misleading representations regarding the sender or subject of a CEM

• Civil charges enabling businesses and consumers to seek damages of $200 per violation, to a maximum of $1 million per day

• Personal liability for company officers and directors who knowingly infringe the law

• Investigation of spam messages, which recipients can send to a Government of Canada reporting centre. Activities related to phishing, email harvesting and the use of spyware/malware will also be investigated

The key to compliance

Updating your electronic databases to manage consents and unsubscribe requests can be a complex task. But it also promises to yield rewards that extend far beyond compliance. As you update your digital marketing practices, you can establish more meaningful communications with your customers and prospects – ones that are solicited and anticipated in accordance with CASL.

 

To read more, please visit the Deloitte website on “Managing the Message”

 Discussions Questions:

1. Do you agree with the new ” Canada’s Anti-Spam Law ” (CASL).

2. Will this new law hinder new business from starting up?

3. Have you been affected by Spam and Malware violations?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canada’s CEO Elite 100: The 0.01%

Occupy Montreal: Victoria Square, Montreal,Quebec

if you’re looking for Canada’s richest 1%, the compensation tables in the proxy circulars of Canadian publicly listed corporations are a good place to start.

 Canada’s Richest

If you’ve made it into Canada’s richest 1% club, you’re among the 246,000 pres­tigious few tax filers who made a minimum of $169,300 and an average income of $404,500 (as of 2007, when the most recent data available is from).

Canada’s CEO Elite

Canada’s CEO Elite 100 — the 100 highest paid CEOs of companies listed in the TSX Index — readily surpass this entrance requirement: Their total average com­pensation hit the heady $8.38 million mark in 2010. That represents a 27% increase over the average $6.6 million they pocketed the previous year.

Lowest paid Canadian paid CEO

The lowest paid among Canada’s CEO Elite 100 ‘earned’ $3.9 million in 2010.   Soaring executive salaries have played a significant role in driving the growth in income inequality in Canada. In 2010, 188 of the CEOs of companies in the TSX Index had enough compensation to get them into the 0.01 %club.

 In the words of the Occupy movement, what about the 99%?

In stark contrast to Canada’s CEO Elite 100, Canadians working full-time, full-year for the average weekly wage earned a humble $44,366 in 2010.

Between September 2010 and September 2011, average weekly earnings in Canada rose by only 1.1%. After taking inflation into account, weekly earnings are now lower than they were during the worst of Canada’s 2008–9 recession, resulting in a dan­gerous mix:

Canadians are feeling the squeeze of shrinking disposable incomes, a rising cost of living, and record-high household debt.

 What are people saying about Occupy Montreal/Wall Street

“I think that there’s a process and people are becoming more aware that they can and should do something political to force the government to do something about economic injustice. In that sense, I think it was very successful.”

“In an objective way, it’s changed people’s ways of thinking and speaking about the rich. We’ve done that for the country. As un-ideal as ‘The 99%’ is, it has focused people on the 1%.” Indeed — hard to imagine Mitt Romney getting the media ride he’s gotten had OWS (Occupy Wall Street) not focused attention on wealth inequity in the world’s richest country.

The Reality

Reality is even harsher for Canada’s minimum wage workers: If they were lucky enough to have a full-time job, minimum wage workers earned, on average, $19,798 in 2010.

Here’s how the income gap between Canada’s CEO Elite 100 and the rest of us plays out in real time: By 12:00 noon January 3, the Elite 100 already have what it takes the average Canadian the rest of the year, working full-time, to earn. The high­est paid pockets the average Canadian wage by about 10:30 a.m. on January 2, the first paid day of the year. It takes the lowest paid among the Elite 100 a little longer to fill their glasses and raise a toast to their success: By 4:43 pm January 4 they’ve surpassed the average Canadian wage earner.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Search the web for Occupy Wall Street/Montreal: Do you think that this movement has slowed down? Will people rise up again and ask governments to stop the inequalities in salaries?
  2. Should Chief Executives Officers (CEO) continue to earn such high wages and benefits?
  3. Would it be feasible to put a salary cap for Executives, similar to the National Hockey League (NHL) salary cap?  How is this salary cap presently working out in the NHL?

To read the complete report , Canada’s CEO Elite 100 , authored by Hugh Mackenzie

Can the Occupy movement gain new traction one year later? read more

March is Fraud Prevention Month, is your business fraud savvy?

April 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Fraud Accounting, Uncategorized

Top 5 Fraud Prevention Tips for Businesses

Raise awareness. A significant number of frauds are detected either accidentally or
as a result of tip-offs. This reinforces the importance of raising fraud
awareness in the workplace. Organizations should emphasize that it is
everyone’s responsibility to find and report fraud.
Find the red flags. Fraud cannot be eliminated completely; however there are a range
of warning signs and alerts (red flags) that are usually present before fraud
is committed. These alerts can provide early warning signs that something is
not right and increase the likelihood that the fraudster will be discovered.
Catch the cheats. There are two key ways to detect fraud – training and experience
combined with the necessary mindset that fraud is always a possibility.
Techniques need to be identified to help determine whether further action is
required. And remember, fraud can happen at all levels of the organization.
Fraud committed by managers is nine times more damaging (financially and
affecting staff morale) than fraud committed by rank and file employees.
Develop a fraud response plan. Organizations should develop a fraud response plan and
ensure that the plan includes provisions for learning lessons from fraud
incidents and appropriate follow-up action. A fraud response plan should also
include prevention methods such as screening of current and new employees,
monitoring and safeguarding assets, internal and external audits, computer
based controls and anti-fraud education programs. And this does not have to be
an expensive venture, an investment in common sense is often enough.
Stop fraud at its source. Organizations should develop a sound ethical culture in
order to prevent fraud. Key actions could include a mission statement which
focuses on ethics, clear policy statements, a route which suspected fraud can
be reported (a whistle blower policy for example) and an internal audit
process.

Discussion Questions:

 1.  Do you believe that a whistle blower policy will prevent fraud?

2. Does a code of ethics deter fraud in an organization?

3. Do you agree that preventing fraud should be part of managements responsibilities?

To read more on Fraud: visit the CGA site

Also read by the CGA: Does Canada have a problem with occupational fraud?

Corporate Responsibility

February 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Canadian Economy

PwC’s dedication

To corporate responsibility is demonstrated through the actions the public accounting firm takes at work, in the marketplace and in our community.

At PwC, corporate responsibility (CR) is about integrating social, environmental and economic integrity into our values, culture, decision-making and operations in an accountable and transparent manner. Put simply, PwC aspires to be a CR leader.

To achieve this goal

The Global Corporate Responsibility Strategy and framework  focuses public companies commitments and actions into four quadrants: community, environment, people and marketplace.   We set goals for each of these quadrants and developed a strategy to achieve them as described below:

  1. Community – We are committed to helping build and empower community leadership. We will do this by sharing our time, knowledge and resources, as well as by harnessing the dedication and capabilities of our people.
  2. Environment – We respect the environment. And we are committed to taking the necessary and measurable steps to reduce the environmental impact of our business operations.
  3. People – We are committed to creating a culture of success for our people by engaging and motivating them to do their best and supporting them to reach both their personal and professional goals. We’re focused on developing responsible leaders who can build trust-based relationships with each other and with our clients and stakeholders.
  4. Marketplace – Our goal is to take a leadership role in bringing about positive change and improvements in our profession and the marketplace. We do this first by practising responsible, sustainable business practices, corporate citizenship and good governance. Second, by promoting these among our clients, vendors and other organizations. And third, we take an active role in contributing to the debate on issues impacting our marketplace

 Visit the PwC’s website to listen to the commitment to Corporate Responsibility

Discussion Questions:

1. PwC believes in its people and the environment, is this an approach that all comporations should consider?

2. How should a company measure Corporate Responsibility?

3.  What are some of the Qualitative and Quantitative considerations that should be considered in a framework, in order to measure the impact that Corporate Responsibility is actually being implemented and effective?

The above article is taken from the PwC website

Gambling losses aren’t tax writeoffs, court rules

February 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Taxation & Planning

Case:

A Toronto man trying to write off casino and racetrack losses against his income tax bill has gambled and lost at Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal.

Giuseppe Tarascio claims that gambling is how he earns the bulk of his income. He filed tax returns for several years, claiming both his wins and losses.

By day, Tarascio is a technician with Bell Canada. But on evenings and weekends, he responds to what he claims is his true calling: horses, slot machines, casino games and lotteries.

He claims to have won tens of thousands of dollars. For years he claimed those winnings as income, but he also deducted his losses and expenses.

In his income tax returns for 2002 and 2003, he deducted from his gambling winnings his losses and associated expenses: $40,933 in 2002 and $56,000 in 2003.

Luck Ran Out!

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) stepped in and disallowed those deductions.

Tarascio objected and went to tax court. He presented his books and records, but lost there too.

No ‘systematic method,’ court rules

He claimed that his degree in mathematics — coupled with his experience in probability theory — gave him the expertise to register his gambling as a business.

Decision by the Canadian Court:

 The court turned him down, saying Tarascio had no “systematic method” for gambling and had spent no time practising his skills. He was also required to pay court costs of $1,000.

 Read the court decision:  Federal Court of Appeal

What constitues an allowable business expense?

 The Supreme Court was clear that a commercial endeavour, with no personal element, will be able to deduct its expenses, whether showing a profit every year or not, as long as a source of income exists.

 Discussion Questions:

1. Do you think Gambling Losses, should be tax deductible?

2. Based on the Supreme court decision as to what constitutes a commercial endeavour: Was the law properly applied?

3. Would the case have taken a different turnabout, if the Appelant had kept perfect records? 

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