CRA’s recent press releases confirm that they are moving towards aggressively pursuing tax evasion in Canada.
As of August 31st, 2016, the CRA has received 899 calls from potential informants and an additional 378 written submissions. Due to information received through this program, over 190 taxpayers are currently under audit.
CRA is on track to identify $1 billion in income that would otherwise have been hidden. That is an increase of almost 400% over the last six years.
If you are concerned that you might become the target of a criminal investigation by the CRA now, or in the future, its critical to contact a Tax Ninja tax lawyer to obtain confidential legal advice regarding your rights and responsibilities. We may be able to significantly reduce any applicable penalties and avoid criminal prosecution if you come forward before being identified by the CRA. Further, if you have already been identified, our lawyers are experienced in defending taxpayer’s charged with tax offences.
We are here to help.
[2016 Press Release by Canada Revenue Agency]
Tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance impacts all Canadians
Canada has one of the highest voluntary compliance rates in the world – most Canadians file and pay their taxes on time. But, a small minority still choose to not pay what they owe. This is not fair and has to stop. Tax schemes rob Canadians of important resources and deprive all levels of government of tax revenues that provides essential services to all Canadians.
Canadian taxpayers should not be burdened with paying for those who do not pay their part. In order to ensure a tax system that is responsive and fair to all taxpayers, the Government of Canada takes continuous action to crack down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.
Using intelligence gathered through a variety of tools at its disposal, and using experienced audit teams as well as through information sharing and collaboration with international partners, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has a robust system in place to tackle tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance on many fronts, both domestically and internationally.
There are ways you can also contribute and do your part in the effort to combat offshore non-compliance.
What the CRA is doing to crack down on tax evasion & aggressive tax avoidance:
- Reviewing high-value money transfers as they cross borders to and from Canada (Electronic Funds Transfers (EFTs) over $10,000) and studying specific offshore locations and certain financial institutions
Since January 2015, the Government of Canada has required financial institutions to report international EFTs of $10,000 or more to the CRA, to help identify taxpayers who may be participating in aggressive tax avoidance or who may be attempting to conceal income and assets offshore. With funding announced in Budget 2016, the CRA now has an increased ability to more fully examine potential tax avoidance across jurisdictions of concern, in order to identify those taxpayers that may not be paying their fair share of taxes by hiding their assets.
- Collaborating and sharing information with international partners
Canada is working with its international partners at the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and the OECD Network of the Forum on Tax Administrations, to promote international tax standards, reduce tax barriers, create better opportunities for Canadian businesses, and increase transparency around global tax issues. As a member of the Joint International Taskforce on Shared Intelligence and Collaboration (JITSIC) network, with over 35 other countries, Canada is working with counterparts to coordinate strategies that will ensure that individuals and multinationals are not hiding assets offshore and that everyone pays their part.
- Identifying promoters of aggressive tax schemes
The CRA is identifying and unravelling new schemes by identifying and taking action on the promoters of these schemes. Those who choose to promote these schemes can face serious consequences, including paying fines, and potentially, criminal prosecution.
- Identifying international non-compliance and abuses through the exchange of information within a large treaty network
Canada has one of the largest treaty networks in the world composed of 92 tax treaties, 22 tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs), and the multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters in force. These treaties and agreements promote greater international cooperation through the exchange of information, thereby allowing the CRA and tax agencies around the world to identify non-compliance practices and take action to stop them. These tools help tax administrations uncover tax evasion and avoidance.
- Offshore Compliance Advisory Committee (OCAC)
The OCAC is an advisory committee of experts tasked with informing the government on new ways to tackle offshore tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. Read the committee’s first report,
- Combatting avoidance by big multinational companies through actions set in the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Action Plan (BEPS)
The plan aims to address aggressive international tax avoidance strategies used by some multinational enterprises to inappropriately minimize their tax obligations, including schemes that artificially shift profits offshore. The Minister of National Revenue signed, in May 2016, the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) on country-by-country reporting. Country-by-country reporting will involve stronger international reporting obligations for large multinational enterprises. This will improve Canada and its international treaty partners’ ability to ensure that the global operations of these enterprises are more transparent and that they pay appropriate taxes in the countries where their profits are generated.
- Inviting Canadians to voluntarily correct their tax affairs through the Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP). The Voluntary Disclosures Program gives taxpayers a chance to change a tax return previously filed or to file a return they should have filed
- Encouraging Canadians to come forward anonymously if they have information pertaining to cases of offshore tax avoidance through the Offshore Tax Informant Program (OTIP).
What can you do?
You can do your part to help us tackle offshore tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.
- Be aware of your reporting obligations
Taxpayers must report certain assets with a total cost of more than $100,000 on Form T1135, Foreign Income Verification Statement, by the filing due date of their income tax return. They must also make sure that they have properly reported any foreign income and gains on their income tax return.
- Correct your tax affairs through the Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP)
- Submit information to the Offshore Tax Informant Program (OTIP)
Are you aware of a situation or do you have information regarding international tax avoidance?