Sunday, March 5, 2017
Canadians work hard for their money and the majority pay their taxes, but some wealthy individuals participate in complex tax schemes to evade paying their fair share. The Government of Canada is working hard to crack down on offshore tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance in order to ensure a tax system that is more responsive and fair for all Canadians.
The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, this week tabled the Government of Canada’s response to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance’s report entitled: The Canada Revenue Agency, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion: Recommended Actions. In doing so, Minister Lebouthilier accepted all the recommendations in the report, and reiterated the Government’s commitment to combat tax cheating at home and abroad and to keep Canadians apprised of these efforts.
With the Government of Canada’s investment of $444 million in the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), the Agency is delivering concrete results.The Agency has already started the work to reassure hard working Canadians that wealthy taxpayers can’t buy their way out of paying their fair share:
- The CRA is on track to recover over $13 billion this fiscal year alone from audit efforts.
- The CRA has increased the number of teams focused on large multinational corporations and increased the number of auditors assigned to detect offshore non-compliance.
- The CRA has set up a team to focus exclusively on promoters of offensive tax schemes.
- Audits of the highest risk taxpayers for four offshore jurisdictions are underway. The first two jurisdictions targeted were the Isle of Man and Guernsey. Two other jurisdictions of concern cannot be named at the moment, in order to avoid compromising these audits. So far, a total of 41,000 international financial transactions, equaling over $12 billion, have been analyzed.
This announcement reinforces the Government of Canada’s commitment to continue to build its capacity to crack down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. The Government has the tools to correct non-compliant behaviors as well as when appropriate, impose serious penalties; and, communicate transparently its activities and results to Canadians.
"The Government of Canada is taking action to crack down on tax cheats. When some choose not to pay their share, it places an unfair burden on the tax system. We are sending another strong signal to tax cheats: that this behaviour will not be tolerated and they will face the full force of the law. Our Government will continue to update Canadians on these important actions to ensure a tax system that is responsive, fair and meets the needs of all Canadians."
-The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue
- In April 2016, the Offshore Compliance Advisory Committee (OCAC) – an independent committee composed of experts with significant legal and tax administration experience – was created to advise the Minister and the CRA on strategies to combat offshore tax evasion and avoidance. On December 5, 2016, the Minister of National Revenue received the OCAC’s report on the Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP), which contains recommendations to enhance the VDP and improve it for the benefit of Canadians. The insight provided by the OCAC will help inform the CRA’s next steps to ensure that the VDP is delivered in a fair and effective manner. The OCAC’s report is available on the CRA website.
- In June 2016, the CRA published a first conceptual study on the tax gap. The CRA will build on this report and has committed to publishing a series of additional papers on other aspects of the tax gap over the next two to three years.
- The Agency has been tracking international electronic funds transfers (EFT) of over $10,000. Based on the information collected, the Agency is currently reviewing over 41,000 transactions, worth over $12 billion, in four jurisdictions of concern. Four additional jurisdictions will now be reviewed every year and every EFT of over $10,000 will be analyzed to identify high risk taxpayers.
- Between April 1, 2011 and March 31, 2016, the CRA convicted 42 taxpayers with offshore links of tax evasion, involving $34 million in federal taxes evaded, court fines of $12 million, and 734 months of jail time.
- Overall, the CRA is currently conducting audits of over 820 taxpayers and criminally investigating 20 cases of tax evasion related to offshore accounts.