International Women’s Day highlights need for fairer taxes

To keep our supporters informed and connected, we send a weekly newsletter with highlights of recent progressive tax developments in Canada and around the world. Sign up to receive it. Here is this week’s roundup of tax fairness news:

International Women’s Day highlights need for fairer taxes

Taxes touch the lives of all women in Canada and around the world, especially in developing countries where gender inequality is most pronounced. We need to confront tax avoidance and biased tax laws that lead to a lack of funding for women’s needs. While the Feminist Policy Scorecard released this week by Oxfam Canada points to some progress on tax policy, including the first gender-budgeting in 2018, much more work needs to be done. Many of the current tax breaks in Canada pay out more to men than women, reinforcing existing gender disadvantages, according to a new report this week from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

We speak with one of Canada’s leading feminist tax experts, Kathleen Lahey in our Women’s Day blog about where Canada falls short and what we can do about it. Women’s Day doesn’t end after March 8th. International days of action are being planned by the Global Alliance for Tax Justice in the coming week and we encourage you to take part in supporting gender tax justice all year round. Happy International Women’s Day!

Snow-washing exposed

 A Globe and Mail exclusive this week found Canada played an unwitting role in an international scheme that filtered Russian dark money into shell companies with Canadian addresses across cities such as Calgary and Montreal. The link was uncovered by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a consortium of investigative journalists. Our allies at Transparency International Canada, who are quoted in the story, point to two things that make Canada an attractive destination for ‘snow-washing’: the ease of opening a company here and the lack of any public national registry of owners.

Massive money-laundering bust

 In yet another sign of Canada’s emerging reputation as a money-laundering hot spot, a Toronto man arrested with $1 million in cash is alleged to have links to a global underground banking network. Global News reported this week that the man, who faces multiple charges including tax evasion, is now suspected of fleeing the country in what US officials say is an example of Canada’s inability to track and prosecute money laundering.

Tax Inspectors Without Borders

Corporations stashing funds in tax havens cost countries billions and the burden falls heaviest on poor nations that already lack the resources to investigate the rich and powerful. The Economist this week profiled an initiative called Tax Inspectors Without Borders, a joint program by the United Nations and the OECD that sends auditors to help developing countries investigate tax evasion. The Tax Justice Network has an interesting blog about the origins of the program and the struggles many poor nations face in cracking down on tax corruption within their own borders and administration.

Digital tax could fund free press

As Canadian media and technology companies continue to bleed revenues to online digital giants such as Google and Facebook, a new proposal from the US-based advocacy group, Free Press, explores an interesting version of a digital tax that could be reinvested in quality, non-commercial, local journalism. They look at how this tax could improve democracy in today’s climate of fake news and social media bubbles, while offering a novel business approach for media that doesn’t rely on collecting people’s data to generate profit.

Long-time fair tax advocate stepping down

 In sad Canadian political news, tax fairness advocate and NDP Member of Parliament Murray Rankin has announced he is retiring from federal politics later this year. Rankin has been a prominent, progressive voice for fair tax policies in Parliament and his Victoria, BC riding, holding town halls on tax justice, writing op-eds to promote awareness about tax avoidance, and introducing a Private Member’s Bill to stop corporate tax dodging. Bill C-362 would have required that offshore subsidiaries have economic substance to be considered a separate legal entity for tax purposes. C4TF thanks Murray for his engagement and many contributions in the fight for a fairer tax system.