Residency for tax purposes - BC or AB? BC case ruled on an individual's primary place of residence, and therefore, where he was taxable.


An August 31, 2018 Supreme Court of British Columbia case (Sampson vs. British Columbia, 2018 BCSC 1503) reviewed whether the taxpayer was a resident of Alberta (as he had claimed) or of B.C. (as CRA had assessed) for the 2009 through 2012 taxation years. CRA had previously reviewed his residency for 2000 through 2002, ultimately accepting his Alberta residency.

Taxpayer loses
After an extensive review of the taxpayer’s personal and work history, and weekly routine, the Court concluded that the taxpayer was a resident of both provinces. This required a determination of his principal place of residence.

The Court held that the taxpayer worked in Alberta but principally lived and resided in B.C. As a consequence, he was subject to B.C. income tax, as that was his principal place of residence.

The facts noted by the Court in reaching these conclusions included the following:

  • he rented a 600 square foot apartment in Alberta, while his wife owned a 10,000 square foot house in B.C.;

  • he owned, and spent considerable time on, a yacht registered in Alberta and moored in B.C.;

  • he worked in Alberta, generally returning to B.C. on weekends, while his wife and children occasionally visited him in Alberta;

  • in the four years under review, he divided his time between Alberta (27.86% of days and 18.62% of nights), B.C. (42.84% of days and 55.44% of nights), and travel outside Canada for business (21.09% of days and 17.73% of nights), and pleasure (8.21% of days and nights);

  • he had limited personal effects in Alberta and many more in B.C.;

  • his driver’s license and provincial health care were in Alberta;

  • he voted in Alberta and not in B.C.; and

  • his social life in Alberta was limited and much more vibrant in B.C.

The Court noted that it could not accept the assertion that the tax load did not influence the taxpayer’s residency claim nor that the B.C. house was beneficially owned only by his wife.

For further information see Video Tax News Monthly Tax Update Newsletter, Issue No. 449.