BE CAREFUL WHO YOU TELL

Failure to file your tax returns and tax evasion are offences punishable in the criminal courts. Understanding this, the delinquent taxpayer who chooses to come forward through a voluntary disclosure, to confess and redress the situation is wise to do so only from the protection of lawyer-client privilege.

An audit is another situation where, if significant discrepancies are found, a criminal prosecution can be instituted or gross negligence penalties levied.

The confidentiality of lawyer-client privilege enables taxpayers to openly discuss their serious tax discrepancies or evasion with their lawyer. Because of this legal protection, the CRA cannot compel your lawyer to reveal any information.

Accountants cannot offer such confidentiality. They can be compelled to reveal client information. Accountants can also be required to testify in the tax or criminal court against their own clients.

MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER

But it can get even worse! Where an accountant is also qualified as a lawyer and represents a client in a tax evasion, failure to file matter, or in an audit that subsequently turns criminal, the courts may hold that related accounting work paper(s) done by the hybrid lawyer/accountant and discussion(s) about accounting matters with the client are not protected under solicitor-client privilege. In this situation, it can easily be argued that it is not clear in what capacity the accountant/lawyer is acting. This actually happened in an American tax case. There, the IRS successfully forced the hybrid accountant/lawyer to divulge his accounting papers and explain them in court – all to the detriment of his client.

Can this happen in Canada? The following opinion from an eminent Canadian criminal lawyer confirms that it is equally likely to happen here.

“Where an individual holds dual qualifications, as an accountant/lawyer, the client may convey information to him/her in the context of a legal proceeding. There would be a significant risk that solicitor/client privilege would vanish in circumstances where the hybridpractitioner attempts to give such advice. The reason for this is simple; for example, if conducting practice from an accounting firm, the receipt of information and the giving of advice in a legal context would blur, potentially to the point of extinction, the doctrine of solicitor/client privilege. The practitioner cannot split his brain between advice that is strictly or business or accounting related and that which is legal advice. I cannot be retained as an accountant and provide any legal opinion even if I am also qualified as a lawyer. When the line will be drawn between information received and advice given as an accountant versus as a lawyer will often be impossible to determine. If retained as a lawyer, I cannot use another part of my brain (the accounting side), and claim solicitor/client privilege for work conducted by me, in this context, of an accounting nature.

Accordingly, there are genuine risks to the doctrine of solicitor/client privilege when advice is sought and received from hybrid practitioner. Many clients will not understand this risk, often until it is too late, and confidential information they thought they were conveying to a professional, is compelled to be produced to Revenue Canada.”

Tax delinquents must understand that your accountant can be forced to testify against you. Even worse, in the case of the hybrid lawyer/accountant, more may not be better and, if the hybrid practitioner does any accounting work, can actually harm the client.

© The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. You are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained in the context of your own particular circumstances.

Brigitte DioGuardi

B.A., LL.B

Brigitte obtained her Law Degree from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. Upon her return, she qualified for the Bar and was called to the Law Society of Ontario (formerly the Law Society of Upper Canada) in 2002. She was also a member of the Bar of British Columbia and headed up the Vancouver office of DioGuardi Tax Law.  Fluently bilingual in English and French, Brigitte has broad experience in the areas of:

  • Tax Law, Civil Assessment Negotiation and Litigation, Criminal Prosecution Defense, Unpayable Tax Debt Solutions, Audits, Tax Amnesty.
  • Corporate and Commercial Law
  • Real Estate
  • Wills and Estates
  • Insolvency and Bankruptcy

Tax Law

​If you are one of thousands of Canadians who have failed to file taxes for several years the answer maybe to seek amnesty. Be aware that failure to file for more than one year if you owe taxes is a criminal offence and you may be criminally prosecuted.

The CRA Voluntary Disclosure Program allows taxpayers to come forward and obtain immunity from prosecution and most civil penalties, provided certain conditions are met.

We specialize in lawyer-negotiated tax debt settlements and tax amnesties with federal and provincial tax authorities, offering taxpayers a much-needed resource for the resolution of situations that all too often put personal and financial lives at risk. We stand as your protector, defender, and advocate to ensure that you the taxpayer, receive the best treatment possible. 

We offer solutions for tax problems such as:

  • Unreported income
  • Unfiled tax returns
  • Payment arrangements
  • Unpayable tax debt
  • Tax dispute litigation
  • Criminal tax defense

Wills, Estates & Trusts

​We offer the following will, estate and trust services for individuals and business-owners:

  • Wills
  • Preparation of trust agreements
  • Powers of attorney
  • Estate administration
  • Probate
  • Representation in estate driven litigation
  • We currently offer a special time limited package for one will and two powers of attorney (property and personal care) for $295 plus HST

Real Estate

We can assist you with all your real estate needs including:

  • Drafting agreements
  • Purchases and Sales
  • Title transfers
  • Leases

Tax Debt Relief

With the coronavirus pandemic leaving many in a precarious and dire financial situation, it is essential that you protect yourself financially. If you have a large, unpayable tax bill, we can help. We act in the best interest of the tax debtor. Unlike us, insolvency trustees represent not only you but your creditors (ie- the tax collector). The more tax you pay, the more trustees earn. Our goal through leveraged negotiations, is to reduce your tax debt.

Please consult our blog post Protecting Your Assets from Creditors for more information.

Business & Tax Planning

If you do not already have a certified financial planner, we can provide one or more highly qualified people who can work closely with us to assist you with such matters as:

  • Resident and non-resident corporate restructuring
  • Optimum use of holding corporations
  • Continuity and succession planning
  • Tax-free transfers
  • Losses and ABIL planning
  • Making interest tax deductible
  • Small business planning

Corporate & Commercial Law

We have represented business clients for the last 50 plus years and have supported their legal requirements on an on-going basis by offering the following services:

  • Incorporations and corporate governance
  • Corporate reorganizations and transactions for the directors and shareholders
  • Negotiation and drafting of agreements, professional corporations, minute book maintenance

Brigitte DioGuardi

B.A., LL.B

Brigitte obtained her Law Degree from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. Upon her return, she qualified for the Bar and was called to the Law Society of Ontario (formerly the Law Society of Upper Canada) in 2002. She was also a member of the Bar of British Columbia and headed up the Vancouver office of DioGuardi Tax Law.  Fluently bilingual in English and French, Brigitte has broad experience in the areas of:

  • Tax Law, Civil Assessment Negotiation and Litigation, Criminal Prosecution Defense, Unpayable Tax Debt Solutions, Audits, Tax Amnesty.
  • Corporate and Commercial Law
  • Real Estate
  • Wills and Estates
  • Insolvency and Bankruptcy

Joyce Bruno

EXECUTIVE LEGAL ASSISTANT

Joyce Bruno has worked as executive legal assistant to Paul Dioguardi for 35 years and continues to offer her expertise and experience to the Dioguardi Law firm. Joyce’s role has evolved over the years and has acquired and developed many skills. She is an invaluable asset in case management and ensures the smooth running of our office.

Paul DioGuardi

B.A., LL.B, Queen’s Counsel

Paul obtained his Law Degree from Queen’s University in 1964.  He is a member of the Bars of Ontario, British Columbia and the Turks and Caicos Islands, a British tax free territory in the West Indies. He has over 50 years of experience and was trained at the Ottawa head offices of Revenue Canada and the Tax Litigation Section at the Department of Justice. Paul has had and continues with an extensive career in various areas of law such as:

  • Tax Law, Civil Assessment Negotiation and Litigation, Criminal Prosecution Defense, Unpayable Tax Debt Solutions, Audits, Tax Amnesty.
  • Corporate and Commercial Law
  • Real Estate
  • Wills and Estates
  • Insolvency and Bankruptcy