Tax lawyers, who are also known as taxation lawyers, or income tax lawyers are professionals specializing in taxation law. They are experts in tax law, having graduated from accredited law schools, and completed their articling program. They receive their law license from provincial law societies after successfully completing their bar examinations. It is these law societies that allow them to practice law. Tax lawyers practice tax law and have specialized in income tax law in full time practice.
They had typically performed above average in their tax law courses in law school, and usually during their articling program and summer internships they have worked under the close supervision of income tax lawyers of a tax law firm and decided to specialize in tax law when they became practicing lawyers. Some tax lawyers in Canada, such as the founder of the firm, David J. Rotfleisch, have additional qualifications in tax law by also being chartered professional accountants or chartered accountants (CPA or CA). The area of specialization for them is taxation law.
Tax law firms and the best income tax lawyers represent and defend their clients who can be individuals, businesses and charities or not for profit organizations. Canadian tax lawyers offer tax planning solutions, showing their clients the best ways of arranging financial matters to minimize taxes payable, without violating any tax laws in Canada. This ensures that they do not face any CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) successful audit or prosecution.
Our tax litigation lawyers in Canada also help clients, who are facing a dispute or problems with the CRA. Canadian tax dispute lawyers represent and defend the taxpayer’s interest against the CRA by filing notices of Objection or appeals to the Tax Court of Canada.
Our tax law firm of Canada tax lawyers provides legal services in the following areas:
- Provide tax advice for self-employed professionals and small businesses that face CRA tax audits to prevent an adverse tax assessment;
- Provide tax advice and represent interests of non-profit organizations and corporations who face CRA audits or investigations;
- Represent the individual taxpayer’s interests, and defend their rights when they are facing a tax audit;
- Help taxpayers file their income tax returns, making sure that such filing is lawful and accurate;
- Provide tax advice to clients who are doing business overseas on Canadian tax laws;
- The best tax lawyers provide expert advice to entrepreneurs on business start ups on proper tax structuring to minimize taxes;
- Carry out income tax reorganizations such as s85 rollovers
- Carry out tax planned will and estate planning to minimize taxes on death;
- Conduct estate freezes such as a s86 reorganization;
- Provide tax advice to taxable estates;
- Represent taxpayers when the CRA denies their charitable donation tax credits or deductible expenses;
- Our tax litigation lawyers in Canada defend taxpayers caught up in charitable contribution shelters or other income tax shelters or those facing any tax problems;
- Our tax planning lawyers carry out amalgamations of corporations under s87 of the Income Tax Act
- Negotiate with the CRA to come up with a payment plan so that the taxpayer is able to pay the tax bill and prevent CRA collection actions including wage garnishment, bank account seizure, personal property or real estate liens and harassment by CRA collections officers;
- Negotiate the removal of garnishment of salary, seizures of bank accounts and personal property or real estate liens,
- Negotiate to arrive at an income tax settlement with the CRA and to reduce or eliminate interest charges and penalties or file a taxpayer relief application (fairness application);
- As tax litigation lawyers we represent the interest of taxpayers in the Tax Court of Canada against the CRA;
- Bring rectification applications to court to correct improperly documented transactions;
- Assist taxpayers who have an improper assessment due to errors on the part of their accountants;
- Represent and defend the interest of taxpayers facing criminal prosecution for charges related to tax, such as tax evasion and income tax fraud;
- Provide tax planning advice for mergers and acquisitions;
- Provide counseling and represent taxpayer interests in CRA notices of objection and the appeals process to Tax Court when the CRA sends a notice of assessment or reassessment;
- Negotiate a voluntary disclosure agreement, tax pardon, or tax amnesty on the taxpayer’s behalf, and bringing the client up-to-date with his or her unfiled taxes or unreported offshore assets without prosecution or penalty and often with an interest reduction;
A tax lawyer who also has a professional designation as a CPA such as firm founder David J. Rotfleisch has the benefit of dual training, that of the tax lawyer and the accountant. The client benefits because the tax lawyer is able to read and fully understand financial statements and to review and question the accuracy of tax returns and amounts claimed. Instead of the taxpayer relying just on the filings prepared by the accountant, the dual designated lawyer is able to independently review the returns or financial statements before they are submitted to CRA, thereby ensuring accuracy of anything submitted to CRA.
Solicitor- client privilege is a long standing principle that is the basis of our legal system and is protected by the constitution, upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada and that safeguards all communications between a potential or actual client and his or her lawyer. Any person can consult a lawyer verbally or in writing, without any fear that the information divulged can be used against him in legal proceedings. Complete confidentiality is guaranteed in any communication between a person and his lawyer, verbal or written, irrespective of whether the person eventually hires the lawyer or not. Lawyer-client privilege is applicable also for former clients of lawyers. Information can be divulged only through prior permission from a past, current or potential client.
The difference between tax lawyers and accountants is in training, knowledge and focus. Tax lawyers receive in depth training in income tax law. They specialize in tax law, and are thus experts in the legal system concerning taxes. They know all about the latest tax regulations and law and the most recent tax case jurisprudence, which is essential to represent their clients’ rights and interests. However, chartered accountants mostly have training to prepare tax returns and report financial matters by preparing financial statements. So it can be said that tax lawyers focus on the legal side of tax, while accountants focus on the numbers side.
Chartered accountants of course have a general knowledge of tax laws, but it’s much less than the knowledge of tax lawyers, particularly about defending clients when they are fighting tax disputes with the CRA. It is important to realize that, there is no attorney-client or lawyer-client privilege with chartered public accountants which is a key protection of the client tax lawyer retainer. Chartered accountants can thus be forced to divulge information about their clients to CRA. They may even be asked to testify against any of their former or current clients in a court of law.
Tax lawyers have the training for presenting legal arguments for their clients, while chartered accountants prepare financial statements and tax returns. Lawyers defend their all the way to tax court.
Lawyers have university level education. They have received specialized training, been evaluated closely, and have passed examinations, and finally received their law license, which lets them practice law. Students must get an undergraduate university degree in all provinces except Quebec before they can apply to any law school. There aren’t too many law schools in Canada, so the application process is very competitive.
Most lawyers have studied for a minimum of 7 years in accredited institutions (undergraduate degree plus law degree) before they can take the tough bar exam, that they must clear to practice law. Law students must also complete an articling program before law society issues the law license. Lawyers are actually notaries public. But the reverse cannot be said about notaries. Lawyers are able to notarize documents.
Notaries public don’t necessarily have university education. They must have a high school diploma. The training they receive could be anything between six months to two years. They have to clear an examination after completing the course to get their notary public license. There is no articling requirement for getting the notary license. It’s possible that a few notaries may have a university degree, but it’s not essential. The province of Quebec is the only exception. Here, they must have an undergraduate degree in Civil Law, and then a one year Masters degree in notarial law.
Notaries can offer limited legal services. Notary publics can help clients with certifying or notarizing documents, prepare contracts and wills, swear affidavits, and help in some real estate transactions, and some other legal services. However, there is no restriction on lawyers on what legal services they can offer.
And finally, Canadian tax lawyers, or any other lawyer, can offer complete confidentiality. Your communications with the lawyer, whether in writing or verbal falls under attorney-client privilege or lawyer-client privilege. This applies, even if you are just seeking consultation and don’t end up hiring the lawyer. This can be critical, particularly if you feel that you might have committed an unlawful activity, and want to find out all your options without any fear of incrimination. A lawyer cannot be asked to divulge information. Lawyers cannot be forced to testify against their clients or potential clients who have consulted them.
Yes there is difference between a tax consultant and an income tax lawyer. There are no professional qualifications necessary for someone to call themselves an income tax consultant. The difference is in the training and depth of knowledge, more so than the difference between chartered professional accountants who have a professional designation and tax lawyers.
A tax lawyer has received all training required for handling all tax law related issues, but a tax consultant may or may not have a degree in accounting, and in some cases might not have a degree at all. There is no governing body to see to it that tax consultants have the knowledge required for helping businesses and individuals with their tax disputes and tax problems with the CRA. However Canada tax lawyers and those elsewhere are answerable to their law societies that have been formed through provincial legislation, giving them the authority of issuing or revoking law licenses.
Also remember, there is no tax consultant-client privilege, and so, anything you say to a tax consultant can be used against you in legal investigations or proceedings. Tax consultants can also be asked to testify against their clients. Of course with a tax lawyer, you will enjoy complete confidentiality on all legal matters because of attorney-client privilege and lawyer-client privilege.
You can send an email and ask specific questions. You will find the email addresses at the law society websites.
- Barreau du Quebec (the law society of Quebec): www.barreau.qc.ca
- Law Society of Alberta: www.lawsociety.ab.ca
- Law Society of British Columbia: www.lawsociety.bc.ca
- Law Society of Manitoba: www.lawsociety.mb.ca
- Law Society of New Brunswick: www.lawsociety-barreau.nb.ca
- Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador: www.lawsociety.nf.ca
- Law Society of Nunavut: www.lawsociety.nu.ca
- Law Society of Saskatchewan: www.lawsociety.sk.ca
- Law Society of the Northwest Territories: www.lawsociety.nt.ca
- Law Society of Upper Canada (the law society of Ontario): www.lsuc.on.ca
- Law Society of Yukon: www.lawsocietyyukon.com
- Nova Scotia Barristers. Society: www.nsbs.org
A provincial law society is an independent association of people in the legal profession, created under provincial legislation mandated to govern and regulate lawyers in the province. Each Canadian province and territory has one of these societies. Societies are authorized to determine rules, regulations and laws that everybody in the legal profession should abide. Law societies have to make sure that all members are meeting the highest professional standards. When the bar calls a law school graduate, the person has to present himself to the society and send an application for membership. The graduate has to comply with the regulations, rules and standards to become a member, and this includes character too, as stated in the website of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. The indivual law societies are also responsible for disciplining lawyers and investigating complaints against lawyers. Please visit www.flsc.ca for more information. You can also contact the following:
Federation of Law Societies of Canada
World Exchange Plaza
45 O.Connor Street, Suite 1810
K1P 1A4, Canada
Canadian tax law, through the Income Tax Act and the Excise Tax Act (for HST/GST) is under federal jurisdiction, although Quebec has a separate income tax act in addition to the federal Income Tax Act. Tax lawyers with a license in any province are allowed to practice law in other provinces as welland do not require a separate license for any other province.