To avoid judicial involvement, Revenu Québec may enter into transactions (settlements) with certain taxpayers. On February 27, 2020, the Québec Ombudsman released its investigation report on the subject.
A Revenu Québec directive describes the circumstances under which a transaction may be conducted. The agency may use such an agreement when the facts do not support its position. The Québec Ombudsman considers that this violates the principles of impartiality and fairness incumbent on Revenu Québec.
The agency must also ensure that the other party provides free and informed consent to the transaction. The validity of the agreement hinges on it. However, taxpayers do not have the same level of knowledge of the subject as Revenu Québec. In some cases, the free and informed nature of their consent may be compromised. The agency must therefore inform and assist them throughout the process, the Québec Ombudsman pointed out.
Furthermore, taxpayers who wish to contest a transaction have no recourse. They must petition the Superior Court of Québec, a costly and complex undertaking.
The Québec Ombudsman agrees with the idea of avoiding the courts in settling disputes. However, it considers that taxpayers’ rights must be upheld. That is why it made eight recommendations aimed at a better structure for this practice.