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Tag: income tax and icbc settlements

More on ICBC Injury Claims, Past Wage Loss and Tax Consequences

When advancing a personal injury claim against another as a result of a BC Car Crash claims for past wage loss are limited to wage loss less income tax.  This is so because of s. 98 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act which reads as follows:
Despite any other enactment or rule of law but subject to this Part, a person who suffers a loss of income as a result of an accident or, if deceased, his or her personal representative, is entitled to recover from designated defendants, as damages for the income loss suffered after the accident and before the first day of trial of any action brought in relation to it, not more than the net income loss that the person suffered in that period as a result of the accident.
Over the years there was some uncertainty as to how this section of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act operated with respect to claims for past wage loss that extended for multiple years.  For example, if a person suffered 2 years of wage loss of $25,000 per year how would tax be calculated?  Would it be the tax payable on $25,000 per year or would it be the tax payable on the whole $50,000 as if it was earned on the date of trial or settlement?  In March, the BC Court of Appeal released reasons for judgement clarifying this section stating in essence that if income loss can be attributed to any given year then the taxes payable on that income for that year should be deducted.
There is one scenario, however, that has not been clarified by the BC Court of Appeal and that is what income taxes are payable when the amount of past wage loss for any given year is so small that the figure would be tax exempt but when added up with the other income earned by the Plaintiff the gross figure would be taxable?
Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court dealing with this issue.  In this week’s case (Laxdal v. Robbins) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2006 BC Car Crash.  Madam Justice Gerow found that the Plaintiff suffered a past wage loss of $3,306.24 in 2006.  ICBC’s lawyers argued that this amount should be further reduced to reflect the income taxes payable when adding this figure to the Plaintiff’s total 2006 earnings.  In rejecting this argument the Court held as follows:
In my view, the authorities support the conclusion that where the gross award is at or below the amount exempt from taxation, there would be no tax payable so that the net past income loss would be the same as the gross past income loss….Accordingly there will be no deduction for income tax as the amount of past wage loss is below the personal exemption.”
This is a great result for BC Plaintiff’s injured in car crashes who suffer a modest past wage loss as it permits the gross amount to be recovered so long as the award fall below the personal income tax exemption for any given calendar year.  I imagine ICBC is not as pleased as Plaintiff’s are with this interpretation and perhaps this issue will go up to the Court of Appeal for consideration.  If it does I will be sure to write about the result.

ICBC Tort Claims and Net Wage Loss

If you have been injured in a BC motor vehicle accident and suffered a wage loss you may have had ICBC tell you that they can only pay you your ‘net wage loss’ in your tort claim.
I have often often seen ICBC calculate a person’s gross wage loss and deduct 25% to account for income taxes prior to paying the past wage loss.  Is this proper?  The answer is sometimes.  It depends on the amnount of your past wage loss award.
Great reasons for judgement were released today by Madam Justice Boyd of the BC Supreme Court.  In this case the court awarded $8,750.36 for past wage loss.  ICBC then tried to deduct income taxes on this amount prior to paying it.  Madame Justice Boyd summarized the applicable law very well and concluded that the leading BC Supreme Court dealing with this issue(Hudniuk v. Warkentin) applies, and using its principles
the Plaintiff’s net income loss should be calculated by deducting the necessary income tax from the agreed gross income loss of $8,750.36.  Further, as Hudniuk requires, for the purposes of tax calculations, this formula assumes that this amount is the only income earned by the Plaintiff in 2008.  Since the first day of trial was May 12, 2008, the tax rates in effect of the previous calendar year, as or December 31, 2007, are applicable
The court then noted that at the time personal income under $9,027 was exempt from taxation meaning the Plaintiff was entitled to the whole amount of past wage loss.
So, according to this judgement, if the past income loss you are entitled to in a BC ICBC tort claim is less than the personal income amount that is exempt from taxation you are entitled to the whole of your past wage loss.
I have heard through the grape-vine that the BC Court of Appeal will soon further clarify this area of the law, but until that time today’s case sets a great precedent for Plaintiff’s with less than $9,000 in past wage loss.