Mother Of Abducted Children Fights Back Against Taxman And Wins

Fatme Charafeddine’s children were abducted by her former spouse in Lebanon in 2004.  Fatme stayed in Beirut and fought to get them back for over one year.  In September of 2005 Fatme returned to Canada but did not give up and fought for the return of her children using the Canadian legal system.

While her battle for her children waged on, she was forced to battle with the Canada Revenue Agency.

The Canada Revenue Agency reassessed her to claim back Canada Child Tax Benefits and GST Credits paid to her for the period of time that her children were abducted.

The Canada Revenue Agency’s position was that since Fatme’s children were not living with her, she was not eligible for the Canada Child Tax Benefits or GST credits.

Fatme did not give up on this battle either and appealed the Canada Revenue Agency reassessment to the Tax Court of Canada.  Her tax appeal was heard on June 23, 2010.

In order for Fatme to be eligible for the Canada Child Tax Benefit she had to show that:

  • her children resided with her; and
  • she was the parent who “primarily fulfilled the responsibility” for her children’s “care and upbringing”.

The Tax Court of Canada judge, the Honourable Georgette Anne Sheridan, stated that “on purely humanistic grounds, most would say the appeal ought to be allowed”.

Justice Sheridan also felt that Fatme should be successful on legal grounds.

She found that children held in a place illegally and in contravention of a court order cannot be said to be resident in that place and that they must be legally resident in the place where they belong.  She stated:

But for their father’s wrongful detention of them in Lebanon, the little girls would have been physically present in Canada; but for his illegal abduction, in their mother’s care; but for his contempt, in her sole custody.  In these circumstances, to find that the children are “resident” in Lebanon would be tantamount to condoning Mr. Ghaddar’s illegal acts thereby bringing the administration of justice into disrepute.  At all times during the Period (and indeed, to the present day) the Appellant has been the girls’ safe harbour.  Their residence is with her.

Justice Sheridan also found that Fatme was the parent who primarily fulfilled the responsibility for the care and upbringing of the children.  She found that Fatme’s efforts to utilize the legal system to protect her children were, in these unique circumstances, enough to make that finding.

Justice Sheridan found that in these circumstances the humanistic outcome and the legal outcome were in harmony.  Fatme stood up to the Canada Revenue Agency and won.

For more information, please contact a member of the Tax Law Team at Pushor Mitchell LLP.

Tom Fellhauer      250-869-1165

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