In this article we will briefly examine the treatment of the business profits of a resident of a contracting State under the Canada-US Income Tax Convention, and the important definition of a “permanent establishment” for purposes of determining the potential taxability of income of such profits.
This article is intended to provide informative material for US taxpayers involved with US-Canada cross-border businesses, and is not intended to constitute tax or legal advice. Please contact the experienced international tax law firm of Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd. for issues involving the Canada-US Tax Treaty.
Business Profits under the Canada-US Tax Treaty
Under the US-Canada Tax Treaty, the business profits of a resident of a Contracting State, “[S]hall be taxable only in that State unless the resident carries on business in the other Contracting State through a permanent establishment situated therein.” (See the definition of “permanent establishment” in next section). Hence, if the resident of a Contracting State carries on, or has carried on, such business, then the business profits of the resident may be taxed in the other State but only to the extent attributable to the permanent establishment.
In determining the business profits of a permanent establishment, certain deductions incurred for the purposes of the permanent establishment, such as executive and general administrative expenses (whether in the State in which the permanent establishment is situated, or elsewhere) may be allowed. However, under the Canada-US Tax Treaty, a Contracting State is not required to allow the deduction of an expenditure which is not generally deductible under the taxation laws of such State.
Additionally, the Canada-US Tax Treaty states that “no business profits shall be attributed to a permanent establishment of a resident of a Contracting State by reason of the use thereof for either the mere purchase of goods or merchandise or the mere provision of executive, managerial or administrative facilities or services for such resident.”
Definition of Permanent Establishment under the Canada-US Tax Treaty
Article V of the Canada-US Tax Treaty provided the original definition of the term “permanent establishment”. As stated in the Canada-US Tax Treaty, the term is defined to mean “[a] fixed place of business through which the business of a resident of a Contracting State is wholly or partly carried on.” Under the Canada-US Tax Treaty, permanent establishment includes: (a) a place of management; (b) a branch; (c) an office; (d) a factory; (e) a workshop; and (f) a mine, an oil or gas well, a quarry or any other place of extraction of natural resources. Furthermore, a building site or construction or installation project constitutes a permanent establishment provided that it lasts more than 12 months. In addition, “A person acting in a Contracting State on behalf of a resident of the other Contracting State other than an agent of an independent status to whom paragraph 7 applies shall be deemed to be a permanent establishment in the first-mentioned State if such person has, and habitually exercises in that State, an authority to conclude contracts in the name of the resident.” (Please see Article V of the Canada-US Tax Treaty for more specific examples of a “permanent establishment”).
The Fifth Protocol (the “Protocol”) to the Canada-US Tax Treaty, signed in September of 2007 and entered into force on December 15, 2008, further modified the definition of permanent establishment. Under the Protocol (Article 3, Paragraph 2), an “enterprise of a Contracting State” that provides services in the other Contracting State may be deemed to have a permanent establishment if it meets at least one of the following conditions:
“(a) Those services are performed in that other State by an individual who is present in that other State for a period or periods aggregating 183 days or more in any twelve-month period, and, during that period or periods, more than 50 percent of the gross active business revenues of the enterprise consists of income derived from the services performed in that other State by that individual; or (b) The services are provided in that other State for an aggregate of 183 days or more in any twelve-month period with respect to the same or connected project for customers who are either residents of that other State or who maintain a permanent establishment in that other State and the services are provided in respect of that permanent establishment.”
Further, the diplomatic notes of Annex B to the Protocol added that, “[t]he principles of the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines shall apply for purposes of determining the profits attributable to a permanent establishment”.
Elimination of Article XIV of the Canada-US Tax Treaty
The Protocal had further important impact with respect to services defined as “Independent Personal Services” – Article 9 of the Protocol eliminated Article XIV of the Canada-US Tax Treaty (“Independent Personal Services”). Under previous Article XIV a resident of a Contracting State performing independent personal services in the other Contracting State could be taxed if such “individual has or had a fixed base regularly available to him in that other State but only to the extent that the income is attributable to the fixed base.” The business profits rules explained above and the various definitions of permanent establishment now determine the taxability of such cases.
Contact Sherayzen Law Office for legal help with respect to Canada-US Tax Treaty
Treaty interpretation, international tax resolution and international tax planning may involve very complex issues, and it is advisable to seek the assistance of an international tax attorney in this area. This is why it is advised that you contact Sherayzen Law Office to secure professional legal help involving issues related to Canada-US Tax Treaty.