The Importance of Family Resemblance: 'Series of Transactions' After Copthorne

42 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2013 Last revised: 7 Mar 2014

See all articles by Benjamin Alarie

Benjamin Alarie

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law; Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence

Julia Lockhart

Independent

Date Written: March 7, 2014

Abstract

The concept of a series of transactions was a key issue in the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Copthorne Holdings Ltd. v. Canada. In light of that decision, this article reviews previous commentary on the topic and suggests a new approach based on the concept of family resemblance. Family resemblance recognizes that there are no core aspects that are the same in every series captured by a provision of the Income Tax Act. Rather, a series should be defined in relation to the purpose of the anti-avoidance provision in issue and the stylized set of transactions that Parliament was attempting to capture. Where there is a sufficient family resemblance between the stylized series and the transactions carried out, a series should be found. This concept is applied to both specific anti-avoidance rules and the general anti-avoidance rule. The article suggests how the Act could be clarified through amendments inspired by the concept of family resemblance.

Keywords: Series of transactions, statutory interpretation, GAAR, butterfly transactions, purpose

Suggested Citation

Alarie, Benjamin and Lockhart, Julia, The Importance of Family Resemblance: 'Series of Transactions' After Copthorne (March 7, 2014). Canadian Tax Journal/Revue Fiscale Canadienne, Vol. 62, No. 1, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2328699 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2328699

Benjamin Alarie (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

Jackman Law Building
78 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-946-8205 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.utoronto.ca/faculty-staff/full-time-faculty/benjamin-alarie

Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence ( email )

Julia Lockhart

Independent ( email )

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