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CRA cracking down on offshore tax havens

By Andrew Rickard | September 13 2016 03:00PM

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) says it is currently auditing more than 750 taxpayers and has opened 20 criminal investigations related to offshore tax schemes.

Last year, the Panama Papers revealed that thousands of people, including a number of politicians and public officials, from all over the world have been hiding their money offshore. Shortly after the leak, the CRA began its search for tax dodgers in the Isle of Man.

Cracking down on tax cheats

In a statement last week, Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier reiterated the government's commitment to cracking down on tax cheats, and said the authorities are working with the Joint International Taskforce on Shared Intelligence and Collaboration (JITSIC) network as well as the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to obtain data and the names of participants.

In May, the CBC revealed that the CRA had applied to the Federal Court to force the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) to hand over the names of hundreds of clients to its auditors . Lebouthillier says the CRA has now received some of the information it requested, and expects to receive more later this fall.

180 taxpayers currently under audit

"The CRA has been collecting information on all international Electronic Funds Transfers over $10,000, including those involving Panama and other jurisdictions of concern," reads the statement. "Specifically regarding the Isle of Man, 3000 Electronic Funds Transfers totalling $860M in a 12 month period were reviewed. These involved approximately 800 taxpayers. Approximately 350 individuals and 400 entities have been contacted and as a result of this review, 60 audits are currently underway. The CRA is also reviewing other jurisdictions."

For those who know or suspect that someone is hiding money offshore, they may use the CRA’s Offshore Informant Program (OTIP). At the end of July, the OTIP had received 868 calls from potential informants and 361 written submissions. "Due to information received through this program, over 180 taxpayers are currently under audit," says the CRA.

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