Notices of Tax Treaty Developments - Status of Tax Treaties

Protocol Amending the Convention Between Canada and the United States of America With Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital

Diplomatic Notes:  Annex B to the Convention

September 21, 2007


This electronic version is provided for ease of reference only and has no official sanction.


Note no. JLAB-0112

Excellency,

I have the honor to refer to the Protocol (the "Protocol") done today between Canada and the United States of America amending the Convention with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital done at Washington on 26 September 1980, as amended by the Protocols done on 14 June 1983, 28 March 1984, 17 March 1995, and 29 July 1997 (the "Convention").

In the course of the negotiations leading to the conclusion of the Protocol done today, the negotiators developed and agreed upon a common understanding and interpretation of certain provisions of the Convention. These understandings and interpretations are intended to give guidance both to the taxpayers and to the tax authorities of our two countries in interpreting various provisions contained in the Convention.

I, therefore, have the further honor to propose on behalf of the Government of Canada the following understandings and interpretations:

1. Meaning of undefined terms

For purposes of paragraph 2 of Article III (General Definitions) of the Convention, it is understood that, as regards the application at any time of the Convention, and any protocols thereto by a Contracting State, any term not defined therein shall, unless the context otherwise requires or the competent authorities otherwise agree to a common meaning pursuant to Article XXVI (Mutual Agreement Procedure), have the meaning which it has at that time under the law of that State for the purposes of the taxes to which the Convention, and any protocols thereto apply, any meaning under the applicable tax laws of that State prevailing over a meaning given to the term under other laws of that State.

2. Meaning of connected projects

For the purposes of applying subparagraph (b) of paragraph 9 of Article V (Permanent Establishment) of the Convention, it is understood that projects shall be considered to be connected if they constitute a coherent whole, commercially and geographically.

3. Definition of the term "dividends"

It is understood that distributions from Canadian income trusts and royalty trusts that are treated as dividends under the taxation laws of Canada shall be considered dividends for the purposes of Article X (Dividends) of the Convention.

4. Deletion of Article XIV (Independent Personal Services)

It is understood that the deletion of Article XIV (Independent Personal Services) of the Convention confirms the negotiators' shared understanding that no practical distinction can be made between a "fixed base" and a "permanent establishment", and that independent personal services of a resident of a Contracting State, to the extent that such resident is found to have a permanent establishment in the other Contracting State with respect to those services, shall be subject to the provisions of Article VII (Business Profits).

5. Former permanent establishments and fixed bases

It is understood that the modifications of paragraph 2 of Article VII (Business Profits), paragraph 4 of Article X (Dividends), paragraph 3 of Article XI (Interest) and paragraph 5 of Article XII (Royalties) of the Convention to refer to business having formerly been carried on through a permanent establishment confirm the negotiators' shared understanding of the meaning of the existing provisions, and thus are clarifying only.

6. Stock options

For purposes of applying Article XV (Income from Employment) and Article XXIV (Elimination of Double Taxation) of the Convention to income of an individual in connection with the exercise or other disposal (including a deemed exercise or disposal) of an option that was granted to the individual as an employee of a corporation or mutual fund trust to acquire shares or units ("securities") of the employer (which is considered, for the purposes of this Note, to include any related entity) in respect of services rendered or to be rendered by such individual, or in connection with the disposal (including a deemed disposal) of a security acquired under such an option, the following principles shall apply:

(a) Subject to subparagraph 6(b) of this Note, the individual shall be deemed to have derived, in respect of employment exercised in a Contracting State, the same proportion of such income that the number of days in the period that begins on the day the option was granted, and that ends on the day the option was exercised or disposed of, on which the individual's principal place of employment for the employer was situated in that Contracting State is of the total number of days in the period on which the individual was employed by the employer; and

(b) Notwithstanding subparagraph 6(a) of this Note, if the competent authorities of both Contracting States agree that the terms of the option were such that the grant of the option will be appropriately treated as transfer of ownership of the securities (e.g., because the options were in-the-money or not subject to a substantial vesting period), then they may agree to attribute income accordingly.

7. Taxes imposed by reason of death

It is understood that,

(a) Where a share or option in respect of a share is property situated in the United States for the purposes of Article XXIX B (Taxes Imposed by Reason of Death) of the Convention, any employment income in respect of the share or option shall be, for the purpose of clause 6(a)(ii) of that Article, income from property situated in the United States;

(b) Where property situated in the United States for the purposes of Article XXIX B (Taxes Imposed by Reason of Death) of the Convention is held by an entity that is a resident of Canada and that is described in subparagraph 1(b) of Article IV (Residence) of the Convention, any income out of or under the entity in respect of the property shall be, for the purpose of subparagraph 6(a)(ii) of Article XXIX B (Taxes Imposed by Reason of Death), income from property situated in the United States; and

(c) Where a tax is imposed in Canada by reason of death in respect of an entity that is a resident of Canada and that is described in subparagraph 1(b) of Article IV (Residence) of the Convention, that tax shall be, for the purpose of paragraph 7 of Article XXIX B (Taxes Imposed by Reason of Death) of the Convention, imposed in respect of property situated in Canada.

8. Royalties - information in connection with franchise agreement

It is understood that the reference in subparagraph 3(c) of Article XII (Royalties) of the Convention to information provided in connection with a franchise agreement shall generally refer only to information that governs or otherwise deals with the operation (whether by the payer or by another person) of the franchise, and not to other information concerning industrial, commercial or scientific experience that is held for resale or license.

9. With reference to Article VII (Business Profits)

It is understood that the business profits to be attributed to a permanent establishment shall include only the profits derived from the assets used, risks assumed and activities performed by the permanent establishment. The principles of the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines shall apply for purposes of determining the profits attributable to a permanent establishment, taking into account the different economic and legal circumstances of a single entity. Accordingly, any of the methods described therein as acceptable methods for determining an arm's length result may be used to determine the income of a permanent establishment so long as those methods are applied in accordance with the Guidelines. In particular, in determining the amount of attributable profits, the permanent establishment shall be treated as having the same amount of capital that it would need to support its activities if it were a distinct and separate enterprise engaged in the same or similar activities. With respect to financial institutions other than insurance companies, a Contracting State may determine the amount of capital to be attributed to a permanent establishment by allocating the institution's total equity between its various offices on the basis of the proportion of the financial institution's risk-weighted assets attributable to each of them. In the case of an insurance company, there shall be attributed to a permanent establishment not only premiums earned through the permanent establishment, but that portion of the insurance company's overall investment income from reserves and surplus that supports the risks assumed by the permanent establishment.

10. Qualifying retirement plans

For purposes of paragraph 15 of Article XVIII (Pensions and Annuities) of the Convention, it is understood that

(a) In the case of Canada, the term "qualifying retirement plan" shall include the following and any identical or substantially similar plan that is established pursuant to legislation introduced after the date of signature of the Protocol: registered pension plans under section 147.1 of the Income Tax Act, registered retirement savings plans under section 146 that are part of a group arrangement described in subsection 204.2(1.32), deferred profit sharing plans under section 147, and any registered retirement savings plan under section 146 or registered retirement income fund under section 146.3 that is funded exclusively by rollover contributions from one or more of the preceding plans; and

(b) In the case of the United States, the term "qualifying retirement plan" shall include the following and any identical or substantially similar plan that is established pursuant to legislation introduced after the date of signature of the Protocol: qualified plans under section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code (including section 401(k) arrangements), individual retirement plans that are part of a simplified employee pension plan that satisfies section 408(k), section 408(p) simple retirement accounts, section 403(a) qualified annuity plans, section 403(b) plans, section 457(g) trusts providing benefits under section 457(b) plans, the Thrift Savings Fund (section 7701(j)), and any individual retirement account under section 408(a) that is funded exclusively by rollover contributions from one or more of the preceding plans.

11. Former long-term residents

The term "long-term resident" shall mean any individual who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States in eight or more taxable years during the preceding 15 taxable years. In determining whether the threshold in the preceding sentence is met, there shall not count any year in which the individual is treated as a resident of Canada under the Convention, or as a resident of any country other than the United States under the provisions of any other U.S. tax treaty, and, in either case, the individual does not waive the benefits of such treaty applicable to residents of the other country.

12. Special source rules relating to former citizens and long-term residents

For purposes of subparagraph 2 (b) of Article XXIX (Miscellaneous Rules) of the Convention"income deemed under the domestic law of the United States to arise from such sources" shall consist of gains from the sale or exchange of stock of a U.S. company or debt obligations of a U.S. person, the United States, a State, or a political subdivision thereof, or the District of Columbia, gains from property (other than stock or debt obligations) located in the United States, and, in certain cases, income or gain derived from the sale of stock of a non-U.S. company or a disposition of property contributed to such non-U.S. company where such company would be a controlled foreign corporation with respect to the person if such person had continued to be a U.S. person. In addition, an individual who exchanges property that gives rise or would give rise to U.S.-source income for property that gives rise to foreign-source income shall be treated as if he or she had sold the property that would give rise to U.S. source income for its fair market value, and any consequent gain shall be deemed to be income from sources within the United States.

13. Exchange of Information

It is understood that the standards and practices described in Article XXVII (Exchange of Information) of the Convention are to be in no respect less effective than those described in the Model Agreement on Exchange of Information on Tax Matters developed by the OECD Global Forum Working Group on Effective Exchange of Information.

14. Limitation on Benefits

The United States and Canada are part of the same regional free trade area and, as a result, the Convention reflects the fact that publicly traded companies resident in one country may be traded on a stock exchange of the other country. Nevertheless, the Contracting States agree that in making future amendments to the Convention, they shall consult on possible modifications to subparagraph 2(c) of Article XXIX A (Limitation on Benefits) of the Convention (including, modifications necessary to discourage corporate inversion transactions).

If the above proposal is acceptable to your Government, I further propose that this Note, which is authentic in English and in French, and your reply Note reflecting such acceptance shall constitute an agreement between our two Governments which shall enter into force on the date of entry into force of the Protocol and shall be annexed to the Convention as Annex B thereto and shall therefore be an integral part of the Convention.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurance of my highest consideration.

Maxime Bernier


Minister of Foreign Affairs


Excellency,

I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your Note No. JLAB-0112 dated September 21, 2007, which states in its entirety as follows:

Excellency,

I have the honor to refer to the Protocol (the "Protocol") done today between Canada and the United States of America amending the Convention with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital done at Washington on 26 September 1980, as amended by the Protocols done on 14 June 1983, 28 March 1984, 17 March 1995, and 29 July 1997 (the "Convention").

In the course of the negotiations leading to the conclusion of the Protocol done today, the negotiators developed and agreed upon a common understanding and interpretation of certain provisions of the Convention. These understandings and interpretations are intended to give guidance both to the taxpayers and to the tax authorities of our two countries in interpreting various provisions contained in the Convention.

I, therefore, have the further honor to propose on behalf of the Government of Canada the following understandings and interpretations:

1. Meaning of undefined terms

For purposes of paragraph 2 of Article III (General Definitions) of the Convention, it is understood that, as regards the application at any time of the Convention, and any protocols thereto by a Contracting State, any term not defined therein shall, unless the context otherwise requires or the competent authorities otherwise agree to a common meaning pursuant to Article XXVI (Mutual Agreement Procedure), have the meaning which it has at that time under the law of that State for the purposes of the taxes to which the Convention, and any protocols thereto apply, any meaning under the applicable tax laws of that State prevailing over a meaning given to the term under other laws of that State.

2. Meaning of connected projects

For the purposes of applying subparagraph (b) of paragraph 9 of Article V (Permanent Establishment) of the Convention, it is understood that projects shall be considered to be connected if they constitute a coherent whole, commercially and geographically.

3. Definition of the term "dividends"

It is understood that distributions from Canadian income trusts and royalty trusts that are treated as dividends under the taxation laws of Canada shall be considered dividends for the purposes of Article X (Dividends) of the Convention.

4. Deletion of Article XIV (Independent Personal Services)

It is understood that the deletion of Article XIV (Independent Personal Services) of the Convention confirms the negotiators' shared understanding that no practical distinction can be made between a "fixed base" and a "permanent establishment", and that independent personal services of a resident of a Contracting State, to the extent that such resident is found to have a permanent establishment in the other Contracting State with respect to those services, shall be subject to the provisions of Article VII (Business Profits).

5. Former permanent establishments and fixed bases

It is understood that the modifications of paragraph 2 of Article VII (Business Profits), paragraph 4 of Article X (Dividends), paragraph 3 of Article XI (Interest) and paragraph 5 of Article XII (Royalties) of the Convention to refer to business having formerly been carried on through a permanent establishment confirm the negotiators' shared understanding of the meaning of the existing provisions, and thus are clarifying only.

6. Stock options

For purposes of applying Article XV (Income from Employment) and Article XXIV (Elimination of Double Taxation) of the Convention to income of an individual in connection with the exercise or other disposal (including a deemed exercise or disposal) of an option that was granted to the individual as an employee of a corporation or mutual fund trust to acquire shares or units ("securities") of the employer (which is considered, for the purposes of this Note, to include any related entity) in respect of services rendered or to be rendered by such individual, or in connection with the disposal (including a deemed disposal) of a security acquired under such an option, the following principles shall apply:

(a) Subject to subparagraph 6(b) of this Note, the individual shall be deemed to have derived, in respect of employment exercised in a Contracting State, the same proportion of such income that the number of days in the period that begins on the day the option was granted, and that ends on the day the option was exercised or disposed of, on which the individual's principal place of employment for the employer was situated in that Contracting State is of the total number of days in the period on which the individual was employed by the employer; and

(b) Notwithstanding subparagraph 6(a) of this Note, if the competent authorities of both Contracting States agree that the terms of the option were such that the grant of the option will be appropriately treated as transfer of ownership of the securities (e.g., because the options were in-the-money or not subject to a substantial vesting period), then they may agree to attribute income accordingly.

7. Taxes imposed by reason of death

It is understood that,

(a) Where a share or option in respect of a share is property situated in the United States for the purposes of Article XXIX B (Taxes Imposed by Reason of Death) of the Convention, any employment income in respect of the share or option shall be, for the purpose of clause 6(a)(ii) of that Article, income from property situated in the United States;

(b) Where property situated in the United States for the purposes of Article XXIX B (Taxes Imposed by Reason of Death) of the Convention is held by an entity that is a resident of Canada and that is described in subparagraph 1(b) of Article IV (Residence) of the Convention, any income out of or under the entity in respect of the property shall be, for the purpose of subparagraph 6(a)(ii) of Article XXIX B (Taxes Imposed by Reason of Death), income from property situated in the United States; and

(c) Where a tax is imposed in Canada by reason of death in respect of an entity that is a resident of Canada and that is described in subparagraph 1(b) of Article IV (Residence) of the Convention, that tax shall be, for the purpose of paragraph 7 of Article XXIX B (Taxes Imposed by Reason of Death) of the Convention, imposed in respect of property situated in Canada.

8. Royalties - information in connection with franchise agreement

It is understood that the reference in subparagraph 3(c) of Article XII (Royalties) of the Convention to information provided in connection with a franchise agreement shall generally refer only to information that governs or otherwise deals with the operation (whether by the payer or by another person) of the franchise, and not to other information concerning industrial, commercial or scientific experience that is held for resale or license.

9. With reference to Article VII (Business Profits)

It is understood that the business profits to be attributed to a permanent establishment shall include only the profits derived from the assets used, risks assumed and activities performed by the permanent establishment. The principles of the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines shall apply for purposes of determining the profits attributable to a permanent establishment, taking into account the different economic and legal circumstances of a single entity. Accordingly, any of the methods described therein as acceptable methods for determining an arm's length result may be used to determine the income of a permanent establishment so long as those methods are applied in accordance with the Guidelines. In particular, in determining the amount of attributable profits, the permanent establishment shall be treated as having the same amount of capital that it would need to support its activities if it were a distinct and separate enterprise engaged in the same or similar activities. With respect to financial institutions other than insurance companies, a Contracting State may determine the amount of capital to be attributed to a permanent establishment by allocating the institution's total equity between its various offices on the basis of the proportion of the financial institution's risk-weighted assets attributable to each of them. In the case of an insurance company, there shall be attributed to a permanent establishment not only premiums earned through the permanent establishment, but that portion of the insurance company's overall investment income from reserves and surplus that supports the risks assumed by the permanent establishment.

10. Qualifying retirement plans

For purposes of paragraph 15 of Article XVIII (Pensions and Annuities) of the Convention, it is understood that

(a) In the case of Canada, the term "qualifying retirement plan" shall include the following and any identical or substantially similar plan that is established pursuant to legislation introduced after the date of signature of the Protocol: registered pension plans under section 147.1 of the Income Tax Act, registered retirement savings plans under section 146 that are part of a group arrangement described in subsection 204.2(1.32), deferred profit sharing plans under section 147, and any registered retirement savings plan under section 146 or registered retirement income fund under section 146.3 that is funded exclusively by rollover contributions from one or more of the preceding plans; and

(b) In the case of the United States, the term "qualifying retirement plan" shall include the following and any identical or substantially similar plan that is established pursuant to legislation introduced after the date of signature of the Protocol: qualified plans under section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code (including section 401(k) arrangements), individual retirement plans that are part of a simplified employee pension plan that satisfies section 408(k), section 408(p) simple retirement accounts, section 403(a) qualified annuity plans, section 403(b) plans, section 457(g) trusts providing benefits under section 457(b) plans, the Thrift Savings Fund (section 7701(j)), and any individual retirement account under section 408(a) that is funded exclusively by rollover contributions from one or more of the preceding plans.

11. Former long-term residents

The term "long-term resident" shall mean any individual who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States in eight or more taxable years during the preceding 15 taxable years. In determining whether the threshold in the preceding sentence is met, there shall not count any year in which the individual is treated as a resident of Canada under the Convention, or as a resident of any country other than the United States under the provisions of any other U.S. tax treaty, and, in either case, the individual does not waive the benefits of such treaty applicable to residents of the other country.

12. Special source rules relating to former citizens and long-term residents

For purposes of subparagraph 2 (b) of Article XXIX (Miscellaneous Rules) of the Convention"income deemed under the domestic law of the United States to arise from such sources" shall consist of gains from the sale or exchange of stock of a U.S. company or debt obligations of a U.S. person, the United States, a State, or a political subdivision thereof, or the District of Columbia, gains from property (other than stock or debt obligations) located in the United States, and, in certain cases, income or gain derived from the sale of stock of a non-U.S. company or a disposition of property contributed to such non-U.S. company where such company would be a controlled foreign corporation with respect to the person if such person had continued to be a U.S. person. In addition, an individual who exchanges property that gives rise or would give rise to U.S.-source income for property that gives rise to foreign-source income shall be treated as if he or she had sold the property that would give rise to U.S. source income for its fair market value, and any consequent gain shall be deemed to be income from sources within the United States.

13. Exchange of Information

It is understood that the standards and practices described in Article XXVII (Exchange of Information) of the Convention are to be in no respect less effective than those described in the Model Agreement on Exchange of Information on Tax Matters developed by the OECD Global Forum Working Group on Effective Exchange of Information.

14. Limitation on Benefits

The United States and Canada are part of the same regional free trade area and, as a result, the Convention reflects the fact that publicly traded companies resident in one country may be traded on a stock exchange of the other country. Nevertheless, the Contracting States agree that in making future amendments to the Convention, they shall consult on possible modifications to subparagraph 2(c) of Article XXIX A (Limitation on Benefits) of the Convention (including, modifications necessary to discourage corporate inversion transactions).

If the above proposal is acceptable to your Government, I further propose that this Note, which is authentic in English and in French, and your reply Note reflecting such acceptance shall constitute an agreement between our two Governments which shall enter into force on the date of entry into force of the Protocol and shall be annexed to the Convention as Annex B thereto, and shall therefore be an integral part of the Convention.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurance of my highest consideration.

I am pleased to inform you that the Government of the United States of America accepts the proposal set forth in your Note. The Government of the United States of America further agrees that your Note, which is authentic in English and in French, together with this reply, shall constitute an Agreement between the United States of America and Canada, which shall enter into force on the date of entry into force of the Protocol amending the Convention between the United States of America and Canada with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital done at Washington on 26 September 1980, as amended by the Protocols done on 14 June 1983, 28 March 1984, 17 March 1995, and 29 July 1997 (the "Convention"), and shall be annexed to the Convention as Annex B thereto, and shall therefore be an integral part of the Convention.

Accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.