In Radonjic v. The Queen (2013 FC 916), the taxpayer brought an application for judicial review of the CRA’s refusal to make certain adjustments to the taxpayer’s tax returns after the normal reassessment period had expired.
In 2003, the taxpayer start playing online poker. After consulting with his accountant, the taxpayer treated his gambling winnings as income in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. Later, he concluded that his gambling winnings were likely not taxable. Accordingly, the taxpayer filed a request for an adjustment under subsection 152(4.2) of the Income Tax Act asking that the income tax he had paid be returned to him.
The CRA denied the taxpayer’s adjustment request. The taxpayer then brought an application for judicial review of the decision to deny the adjustment request.
The Federal Court noted that the standard of review for the CRA’s exercise of discretion under subsection 152(4.2) is reasonableness (see Dunsmuir v. New Brunswick (2008 SCC 9), Caine v. C.R.A. (2011 FC 11), and Hoffman v. Canada (2010 FCA 310)). In other words, the court should intervene only if the decision was unreasonable in the sense that it falls outside the “range of possible, acceptable outcomes which are defensible in respect of the facts and law”.
The Federal Court considered the parties’ positions on the issue and the various court decisions that have addressed the taxation of gambling gains and losses (see, for example, Cohen v. The Queen (2011 TCC 262), and Leblanc v. The Queen (2006 TCC 680)).
The court concluded that the CRA had fully considered all of the taxpayer’s submissions, and that there was no evidence of procedural unfairness or bad faith by the CRA.
However, the court concluded that the CRA had misinterpreted or misunderstood the taxpayer’s activities, and had drawn unreasonable and unsupportable conclusions about the tax treatment of the taxpayer’s gambling winnings:
 … The Minister’s exercise of her discretion under subsection 152(4.2) of the Act in this case lacks intelligibility and justification and, in my view, falls outside the range of possible, acceptable outcomes which are defensible in respect of the facts and law.
Overall, the court found that the taxpayer was simply an enthusiastic and ever-hopeful poker player engaged in a personal endeavour.
The court quashed the CRA’s decision and returned the matter to the CRA for reconsideration in accordance with the court’s reasons.