The Supreme Court's 2013 Tax Cases: Side-Stepping the Interesting, Important and Difficult Issues

Document Type


Publication Date



Supreme Court of Canada, 2013, Formalistic Interpretation, Tax Principles, Contingent Liabilities, Tax Planning


In 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada heard three tax cases. Our review of the year argues that the Court resolved those cases by relying on narrow formalistic points that did little to advance our understanding of tax principles of tax law. In particular, the Court was invited to consider the tax treatment of contingent liabilities assumed by the buyer in a sale of business assets; the taxation of amalgamations that do not meet the qualifying conditions for the applicable rollover provision; and the conditions under which rectification should be available in tax planning.