Canadian tax haven use remains at $300 billion.

Media Release

April 25, 2018

Ottawa – Government has failed to rein in the problem, which costs Canadians billions.

2017 Canadian direct investment in just the 11 most popular Canadian tax havens remains over $299 billion, up from $6.6 billion in 1987.  This does not include investment in other tax havens, which would bring the total to well over $300 billion. The numbers were released by Statistics Canada today. This will be an underestimate, as it doesn’t capture unreported offshore accounts of wealthy individuals.


While the top-11 number went down slightly in 2016 – perhaps due to embarrassing releases of the Panama Papers and other tax haven information, it was already trending upwards in 2017. 

“The high profile leaks and transparency reforms appear to have had limited effect,” said Dennis Howlett, Executive Directive Director of Canadians for Tax Fairness, “and corporate use of tax havens alone is costing Canadians at least $10 to $15 billion in tax revenues per year.”

There have been some changes since 2015 in where the investment is going: decreases in Barbados, Ireland, Bermuda, BVI and Panama, and increases in Hong Kong, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Cayman Islands and Bahamas.

Howlett said “Much of the investment is ‘brass plate,’ i.e. Canadian corporations shifting profits to off-shore subsidiaries to avoid taxation, rather than investing in actual operating businesses.” Canadians for Tax Fairness documented the number of employees per billion dollars in investment for those countries. Bermuda was the worst in 2014, with Canadian investment of $31 billion employing a total of 35 people - about one employee per billion dollars. By way of comparison, legitimate investment in Germany employed over 2,700 employees per billion dollars.

Individual taxpayers are picking up the slack and Canadians don’t like it:  An Environics poll conducted by Canadians for Tax Fairness this winter found that 87% of Canadians want the law changed to make corporate use of tax havens to avoid taxes illegal, with ⅔ of those strongly supporting legislative action.

“Real policy action is needed to close down tax haven use.” said Diana Gibson, Communications Director for Canadians for Tax Fairness “A start would be to cap interest and patent payments, and require companies to show that the business has economic substance, as proposed in MP Murray Rankin’s private member’s bill C-362.”

For more information and a full list of action visit the Canadians for Tax Fairness website.

Media contact: Diana Gibson, Canadians for Tax Fairness: 780-910-0665






Canadian top 11 tax haven investment ($billion)