By Robert Frank
Laval’s transit authority has lost a $300,000 legal dispute over the amount of provincial sales tax it owes Revenu Québec.
The disagreement arose over the bus service linking Laval and Montreal.
Société de transport de Laval (STL) provided the buses and drivers that carried passengers on the number 902 bus route linking Le Carrefour bus terminal with Côte Vertu metro station in St. Laurent.
In his judgment, the Hon. Jean-F. Keable acknowledged that STL operated the interisland route on behalf of the regional transit authority Agence métorpolitain de transport (AMT).
“It is true, in the greater sense, that STL is a charter carrier that put its buses at AMT’s disposal to carry people,” wrote the judge in his ruling. However, he cited a decision by the Swiss Federal Court to differentiate between city bus charters and services that prepare travel arrangements or contracts.
Normally, municipal transit authorities are tax-exempt.
“However, we do receive some funds for providing commercial services like school bus charters and the placard advertisements that are displayed on buses,” explained STL spokeswoman Marie-Céline Bourgault. “If that exceeds 10 percent of our revenue, then we’re entitled to claim input tax credits to offset our GST and QST, just like any other business.”
She added that the judgment would not have an impact on Laval bus fares. Despite deciding in favour of Revenu Québec, the decision was, in part, a pyrrhic victory for the taxman.
Bourgault noted that, in his ruling, Justice Keable ordered the tax authority to increase its reimbursement to STL by $133,382 to a total of $206,692.
“As soon as we receive these funds, STL will plough them into providing better equipment and service to Laval commuters,” Bourgault pledged.
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