Canadian nets seek tax repayment

Payment compensates broadcasters for 8 years of taxes

The main private Canuck TV networks announced Thursday that they’ve asked the federal appeals court to force the government to pay the webs more than C$790 million ($672 million).

Payment would compensate the broadcasters for taxes they have paid over the past eight years.

Move follows a court decision last month in which federal judge Michel J. Shore ruled that the license fees the broadcasters pay the Canadian government constitute an illegal tax.

The nets were paying more than $85 million annually in license fees. The fees, levied by broadcast regulator the Canadian Radio-television & Telecommunications Commission, go into general government coffers.

The fees are above and beyond the regular payments the networks make to the CRTC to cover the cost of regulating the industry.

“We ask the federal court of appeal to bring the findings of Justice Shore to their logical conclusion and to order the return of the monies paid under protest since 1998,” said Glenn O’Farrell, CEO of the Canadian Assn. of Broadcasters.

In his decision last month, Judge Shore noted, “One of the most fundamental principles of Canadian law is that taxes must be levied only with the authority of Parliament.”

The CRTC is not allowed to levy taxes under current law in Canada.

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