Tax court rules Guy Laliberte's 2009 space trip was a taxable benefit - Canadanewsmedia
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Tax court rules Guy Laliberte's 2009 space trip was a taxable benefit

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MONTREAL — The Tax Court of Canada has ruled that a trip to outer space by billionaire Quebec businessman Guy Laliberte in 2009 was a taxable benefit.

At issue was a $41.8-million price tag for a trip the Cirque du Soleil’s founder had been reimbursed for as a business expense.

The Canada Revenue Agency challenged that and Tax Court Justice Patrick Boyle wrote in a ruling Wednesday he believes a large portion of the travel cost to the International Space Station was indeed a taxable benefit.

“I find that the motivating, essential and overwhelmingly primary purpose of the travel was personal,” Boyle wrote.

“I find that the Appellant (Laliberte) is the person who made the decision to travel on his space trip and that his overarching reasons for that decision were personal.”

The judge added 27 reasons to buttress his decision — notably that Laliberte had long been interested in space travel and there was no evidence the Cirque du Soleil was considering sending anyone else to space; that Laliberte’s representative negotiated the flight agreement on behalf of Laliberte; and there was no suggestion that any benefit attributed to the Cirque du Soleil was contemplated ahead of the trip.

A spokeswoman for Laliberte, the Cirque’s controlling shareholder in 2009 when he took a Soyuz capsule to the station, said Friday the billionaire was aware of the court decision and was considering his options.

Laliberte was Canada’s first space tourist when he took the 12-day space trip as part of a “social and poetic mission” to raise awareness about water issues for his One Drop foundation.

It included a two-hour feature program involving various artists such as Bono and Shakira as well as environmentalists David Suzuki and former U.S. vice-president Al Gore.

The businessman first paid for the trip through a personal holding firm. Two months after his return, he was reimbursed by Creations Meandres, the company that controlled Cirque du Soleil, minus a self-assessed $4-million shareholder benefit.

His accountants claimed it wasn’t a personal trip, but rather a “stunt marketing event” to promote the popularity of the circus as well as the foundation, and as such should be deductible as a marketing or promotional expense that far outweighed the trip’s cost.

In response to this week’s ruling, a spokeswoman for Lune Rouge, an entrepreneurial firm Laliberte now heads, issued a statement.

“Guy Laliberte already paid all the taxes associated with this project several years ago, upon receipt of the notice of assessment,” Anne Dongois wrote in an email Friday. “We have read the judgment, which recognizes that part of the cost of the project is attributable to business.

“A question remains with regards to the proportion that is business and the proportion that is to be considered for, potentially, personal benefit. Various options are currently evaluated.”

In his decision, Boyle fixed the amount of the business-related portion of the trip to be about 10 per cent or $4.2 million, meaning the remaining 90 per cent of the trip’s cost — $37.6 million — was the amount of the benefit.

“Simply put, there is a difference between a business trip which involves or includes personal enjoyment aspects, and a personal trip with business aspects, even significant ones, tacked on,” Boyle wrote.

“I have found that this space trip falls into the latter category, and the tax consequences to the business income are considered and determined accordingly.”

A Cirque du Soleil spokeswoman said the organization would have no comment.

“As this is a personal matter for Guy, we will not be commenting,” Marie-Helene Lagace said in an email.

Nicolas Simard, a tax law expert and partner at Fasken law firm in Montreal, said the law means the amount owed will have to be paid in full regardless of whether Laliberte appeals.

The matter has been referred back to the minister of National Revenue for reassessment.

Simard said the lesson here is that tax agencies are conducting more and more audits, including those of family businesses.

“Taxpayers have to be mindful of the expenses paid for or reimbursed by their corporations, like vehicles, time-shares and condos,” Simard said.

“They have to be prepared to offer proper justification and offer books and records to demonstrate (they) did not personally benefit from an expense paid for by the corporation.”

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Tesla testing out new Autopilot features like roundabout navigation – MobileSyrup

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk has tweeted that new features are already being tested for the next stage of Autopilot, including traffic light stops, roundabout navigation and more.

Musk initially shared a tweet encouraging drivers that own a Tesla manufactured within the last two years to test out the recently released ‘Navigate on Autopilot’ feature.

The version of Navigate on Autopilot available now is a step above the regular Autopilot since it now passes slower vehicles on the highway and can also navigate highway on-ramps and off-ramps.

The next update doesn’t bring full autonomous driving to the EVs, but take things a step closer.

The tests that Musk mentions are preparing to make Tesla’s understand stop signs and traffic lights, as well as roundabouts.

He even says that Tesla cars will soon be able to drive from the user’s home to, for example, a parking lot at work, without any driver input at all.

Source: Twitter

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Ford's F-350 is the top choice for Canada's thieves: Report – BNNBloomberg.ca

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Do you know where your truck is?

You might want to double check where your car is parked following a study released Tuesday by the Insurance Bureau of Canada found that high-end trucks and sport-utility vehicles were the most-stolen vehicles in Canada in 2017.

The most-stolen vehicle was the 2015 Lexus GX460 SUV, but eight of the 10 most-stolen were different versions of the Ford F-350.

“Automobile theft is much more than an insurance problem; it’s an expensive social menace,” IBC wrote in its report. “Each year, automobile theft costs Canadians close to $1 billion, including $542 million for insurers to fix or replace stolen vehicles, $250 million in police, health care and court system costs and millions more for correctional services.”

According to IBC, most of the vehicles being stolen are being flipped into the used car market.

“Stolen vehicles may be sold to consumers who don’t know they are buying a stolen car, scrapped for parts or used to commit another crime,” IBC wrote in the report. “Often, stolen vehicles are smuggled out of the country.”

New Brunswick saw the highest increase in vehicle theft among Canada’s provinces, with a 28 per cent increase last year. Ontario followed with a 15 per cent jump.

IBC also noted that this is the time of year that vehicle-owners need to be most vigilant about keeping an eye on their wheels.

“New Year’s Day is the most common time for vehicles to be stolen,” IBC wrote in the report. “Since people tend to travel over the holidays in cars filled with gifts, it is important to be vigilant and keep a close watch on your vehicle over the festive season.”

The Top 10:

  1. 2015 Lexus GX460
  2. 2007 Ford F-350
  3. 2006 Ford F-350
  4. 2005 Ford F-350
  5. 2001 Ford F-350
  6. 2003 Ford F-350
  7. 2004 Ford F-350
  8. 2016 Toyota 4Runner
  9. 2002 Ford F-350
  10. 2006 Ford F-250

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Who is Meng Wanzhou, the Chinese exec wanted by the US? – CNN

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The 46-year-old executive was arrested December 1 in Canada, and faces extradition to the United States. After news of her arrest broke late December 5, Meng’s face was splashed across the internet.
Meng is the daughter of Huawei’s billionaire founder, Ren Zhangfei, and her case threatens to ramp up tensions between Washington and Beijing.
“The fact that this is Ren’s daughter and a very senior official in the company sends a very strong message to China: no one is above US law and we will reach out anywhere in the world and arrest you if you break the law,” said Paul Triolo, the head of global tech policy at risk consultancy Eurasia Group.

Tipped for the top?

Despite her position as a senior executive at Huawei, China’s largest smartphone and telecommunications equipment maker, little is known about Meng and her rise through the ranks at the company. It’s not traded on a stock exchange, and its executives are notoriously media shy.
Huawei exec's arrest opens a new front in the US-China trade war
Aside from a brief stint at state-run China Construction Bank after graduating from college in 1992, Meng has spent her entire career at her father’s company.
Her brother, who is known as both Meng Ping and Ren Ping, works at a Huawei subsidiary. The siblings’ roles at the company have fueled speculation that they are being groomed to take over from their father.
In March, Huawei shook up its top ranks, making the founder’s daughter one of four vice chairs of the board. The promotion supported the idea she could one day lead the company.
But Huawei’s founder has repeatedly denied the existence of a succession plan built around his children.
Asked about it in 2010, Ren told Chinese business news site Caixin: “This plan doesn’t exist. It’s too ridiculous to respond to.” In a letter to employees in 2013, he reportedly said his children lacked the vision, character and ambition to lead Huawei.
According to its most recent annual report, Huawei is a private company with Ren holding 1.4% of its shares, and the rest owned by more than 80,000 company employees. Ren, 74, is worth $3.4 billion, according to Forbes.
Meng Wanzhou speaking at a conference in 2014. She has been CFO of Huawei since at least 2011.Meng Wanzhou speaking at a conference in 2014. She has been CFO of Huawei since at least 2011.

From answering phones to finance chief

Until recently Meng, like her father, rarely spoke to the media.
But in 2013, she gave an interview to 21st Century Business Herald, a Chinese newspaper. She said she was married with two young children and noted that her husband does not work in the telecommunications industry.
Huawei's no good, very bad year just got even worseHuawei's no good, very bad year just got even worse
Meng also answered questions regarding her last name, saying she changed it when she was 16, taking her mother’s surname.
She started working at Huawei in 1993, a year after graduating from college. Her first job, she said, was answering phones.
Meng went back to university in 1997, graduating with a master’s degree in accounting. When she returned to Huawei the following year, she joined the finance department and that, she said, was when her career took off.
Meng held positions at director and executive level in the accounting and finance departments before becoming CFO.
She spent the 2000s revamping Huawei’s organizational structure and financial systems as the company expanded its business around the world.

Presiding over Huawei’s riches

It is unclear exactly when Meng was promoted to the C-Suite.
Founded in 1987, Huawei only began publishing the names and biographies of the people who run the company in 2011, according to Reuters. The inaugural list already identified Meng as CFO.
Over the past seven years, she has presided over a period of extraordinary financial success at Huawei. The company more than quadrupled its net profit between 2011 and 2017, when it reported 47.5 billion yuan ($6.9 billion).
It now sells more smartphones than Apple (AAPL) and is the world’s biggest maker of telecommunications equipment ahead of Sweden’s Ericsson (ERIC).
The company’s global rise has brought it increasing scrutiny from the US government over the same period. And Meng has now become its focal point.

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