CRA says payment for the right to use customer list is exempt from Canadian withholding tax

Published by Ian Gamble

In a well-reasoned technical interpretation (2014-0525501E5, just released), the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) concluded that payments by Canadian companies (Usercos) to UK and US resident companies (Ownercos) for the right to use customer lists owned by the Ownercos are exempt from withholding tax (WHT) in Canada.  The payments are subject to 25% WHT under Part XIII of the Income Tax Act (Canada), but in the CRA’s view, are exempt from this tax under Article XII(3)(c) of the Canada-US tax treaty and Article 12(3)(b) of the Canada-UK tax treaty.   These treaty exemptions apply because the payments are for “…the use of…or the right to use…any information concerning industrial, commercial, or scientific experience”.