Thursday, November 23, 2017

Ottawa claims it will reap $25 billion from tax cheats. That’s wishful thinking.

National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier
When National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier was pressed during question period Tuesday on what the government is doing to crack down on offshore tax havens, her answer included a fat, impressive figure. “Our government is fully committed to fighting tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance,” Lebouthillier said. “In our last two budgets, we allocated nearly $1 billion to doing just that, and we are on track to recoup $25 billion.”

But that $25 billion isn’t exactly in the bag. The satisfyingly large sum Lebouthillier cited is the broadest possible estimate of what the Canada Revenue Agency’s audits over the past two years have turned up, and declaring that the government is “on track to recoup it” amounts to assuming that every cent the CRA has identified as rightfully Ottawa’s will somehow be raked in.

In a series of email exchanges, CRA explained to Maclean’s that, of the $25 billion it is targeting as the result of two years of audits, about two-thirds of the total relates to what it calls “international, large business and aggressive tax planning activities.” In other words, that’s the portion associated with sophisticated individuals and companies, presumably surrounded by skilled accountants and lawyers who will now be asked to earn their fees.

So is it really reasonable to assume those adversaries will cumulatively cough up the entire amount?   (more...)

Meanwhile, some eyebrows are raised:

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