Silver Wheaton sees Canada tax verdict taking at least two years

Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:55pm EDT
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By Nicole Mordant

DENVER (Reuters) - Believing it has a strong case, Silver Wheaton Corp SLW.TO is keen to get its disagreement with Canada's tax authorities to court as soon as possible but any resolution is at least two years away, its chief executive said on Monday.

Any day now the Vancouver-based mining financing company expects to receive a letter of assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency, which in July said it might tax about C$715 million ($539.79 million) of income Silver Wheaton earned outside Canada.

If the CRA presses ahead with its case, which the market expects it will, Silver Wheaton will have to deposit $200 million to $250 million - half the disputed tax amount plus interest and penalties - with the agency while it pursues a defense.

"We're obviously working as hard as we can to move this forward as fast as we can but we are only half of the equation," Silver Wheaton CEO Randy Smallwood said in an interview.

Instead of appealing the assessment, Silver Wheaton prefers to take its case directly to Canada's tax court, a faster route to an outcome.

"The best case is that it goes into discovery 2016 or 2017. Then we get a court date with possible resolution end 2017-2018," Smallwood said on the sidelines of the Denver Gold Forum.

Although he is confident the court will back Silver Wheaton, if not the company may consider moving its headquarters from Canada to a more favorable tax jurisdiction.

"Obviously if laws change, if it gets to the point that Canada doesn't want us, then that is always an option," he said.   Continued...