La crédibilité vaut son pesant d’or face à l’impôt, 2e partie

By Robert Robillard - 11 September 2014

Dans un billet pas si lointain, le contribuable est malheureusement déculotté par la Cour canadienne de l’impôt (CCI) qui rejette sommairement l’ensemble de son témoignage peu vraisemblable.

Dans une cause récente, entendue à la même cour, le contribuable fait les frais d’avis de nouvelle cotisation pour les années d’imposition 2003 et 2004 de la part de l’Agence du revenu du Canada (ARC) qui a obtenu les résultats d’une vérification fondée sur les indices de richesse conduite par l’Agence du revenu du Québec (ARQ).

Le contribuable en appelle de ces avis de nouvelle cotisation prétendant que pour les deux années d’imposition en litige, il ne travaillait pas.

Le contribuable explique à la CCI qu’au cours de ces deux années en litige, son fiancé payait l’ensemble des dépenses du couple en plus de lui fournir régulièrement de l’argent pour ses dépenses discrétionnaires. Suite à la rupture de sa relation, le contribuable retournera sur le marché du travail mais uniquement en 2005. Il s’agit en l’occurrence de la seule et unique explication offerte à la cour.

Auparavant, l’ARQ a effectivement mené une vérification fondée sur les indices de richesse pendant laquelle le contribuable explique qu’il ne travaillait pas. L’ARQ cotise néanmoins ensuite le contribuable prétextant que son niveau de vie n’est tout simplement pas conséquent avec ses revenus.

Le prononcé de la CCI est muet quant aux actions qu’auraient pu faire valoir à l’ARQ le contribuable en réponse à ces avis de nouvelle cotisation québécois.

Relativement à la cause entendue à la CCI, qui porte exclusivement sur l’impôt fédéral, le contribuable ne fait entendre aucun autre témoin et ne produit aucun document, outre ceux déjà obtenus lors de la vérification de l’ARQ.

Le témoignage de l’appelant se limite à dire et à redire qu’au cours de ces deux années en litige, son fiancé payait l’ensemble des dépenses du couple en plus de lui fournir régulièrement de l’argent pour ses dépenses discrétionnaires.

Entre alors en scène le fiancé.

Activites-formation-fiscalite-RBRT-Concepts

Mais celui-ci refuse d’abord de se présenter à la barre des témoins en dépit d’un subpoena à cet effet.

Ce témoignage, aux dires de la cour est peu explicite. Le témoin demeurant vague et évasif. La cour explique :

« [26] He simply did not want to be there and he was not at all sympathetic to the cause of the Appellant. He was at worst hostile to the interests of the Appellant and at best totally disinterested and indifferent to her situation. The relationship he had with her ended rather dramatically when she “threw him out with the dog” but he has moved on and has made a new life of his own. It is clear that he did not have a chance to discuss his testimony with the Appellant or her representative and so he did not know what was required of him. He has no interest whatsoever in the outcome of this litigation and he has no reason to favour either the Appellant [le contribuable] nor the Respondent [l’ARC]. »

Un seul élément, significatif, retient toutefois l’attention de la cour de première instance : le fiancé confirme sans réserve qu’au cours de sa relation avec le contribuable, il payait effectivement l’ensemble des dépenses de l’appelant.

En l’absence de preuves documentaires, la cour explique qu’elle doit donc s’en remettre aux seuls témoignages dans cette affaire. À ce titre, la CCI rappelle les principes applicables :

« [24] It is trite law that I can accept all of the evidence of a witness, none of evidence of the witness or I can accept some of the witness’ evidence and reject other portions of the witness’ evidence. The oft quoted dictum of Justice O’Halloran of the British Columbia Court of Appeal in Faryna v. Chorny, [1952] 2 D.L.R. 344 (B.C.C.A.), at pages 356 and 357 also comes to mind:

If a trial Judge’s finding of credibility is to depend solely on which person he thinks made the better appearance of sincerity in the witness box, we are left with a purely arbitrary finding and justice would then depend upon the best actors in the witness box. On reflection it becomes almost axiomatic that the appearance of telling the truth is but one of the elements that enter into the credibility of the evidence of a witness. Opportunities for knowledge, powers of observation, judgment and memory, ability to describe clearly what he has seen and heard, as well as other factors, combine to produce what is called credibility, and cf. Raymond v. Bosanquet 1919 CanLII 11 (SCC), (1919), 50 D.L.R. 560 at p. 566, 59 S.C.R. 452 at p. 460, 17 O.W.N. 295. A witness by his manner may create a very unfavourable impression of his truthfulness upon the trial Judge, and yet the surrounding circumstances in the case may point decisively to the conclusion that he is actually telling the truth. I am not referring to the comparatively infrequent cases in which a witness is caught in a clumsy lie.

The credibility of interested witnesses, particularly in cases of conflict of evidence, cannot be gauged solely by the test of whether the personal demeanour of the particular witness carried conviction of the truth. The test must reasonably subject his story to an examination of its consistency with the probabilities that surround the currently existing conditions. In short, the real test of the truth of the story of a witness in such a case must be its harmony with the preponderance of the probabilities which a practical and informed person would readily recognize as reasonable in that place and in those conditions. Only thus can a Court satisfactorily appraise the testimony of quick-minded, experienced and confident witnesses, and of those shrewd persons adept in the half-lie and of long and successful experience in combining skilful exaggeration with partial suppression of the truth. Again a witness may testify what he sincerely believes to be true, but he may be quite honestly mistaken. For a trial Judge to say “I believe him because I judge him to be telling the truth”, is to come to a conclusion on consideration of only half the problem. In truth it may easily be self-direction of a dangerous kind.

The trial Judge ought to go further and say that evidence of the witness he believes is in accordance with the preponderance of probabilities in the case and, if his view is to command confidence, also state his reasons for that conclusion. The law does not clothe the trial Judge with a divine insight into the hearts and minds of the witnesses. And a Court of Appeal must be satisfied that the trial Judge’s finding of credibility is based not on one element only to the exclusion of others, but is based on all the elements by which it can be tested in the particular case. »

De ces principes, la cour ne peut donc qu’accepter la crédibilité du témoignage du contribuable, en dépit de l’absence criante de preuves documentaires, puisqu’un témoin clairement hostile à sa cause en corrobore l’essentiel des propos.

L’appel du contribuable est donc accueilli!
 


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