Shocking inaction post Panama Papers

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. Here is this week’s roundup of tax fairness news:

“Shocking” inaction post Panama Papers:

An exclusive Journal de Montréal investigation this week revealed only 12 of the 900 Canadians named in the Panama Papers have been ordered to pay back the government – a stark contrast to other countries that have recouped millions. C4TF’s executive director Toby Sanger is quoted in the story, pointing out the CRA’s numbers are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the extent of offshore tax avoidance. Some opposition critics reacting to the news also called the government’s slow progress “shocking” and “pathetic”. With a federal election looming this fall, we need to keep the pressure on all parties to prioritize tackling tax havens and the billions they cost our economy each year.  

Survey finds 77% of Canadians support tax on digital giants:

Canadians overwhelmingly support a digital tax on foreign tech companies, according to a new report released by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC). It found 77 percent agreed that “E-commerce companies such as Netflix, Google, Amazon and Uber, should be subject to Canadian taxes for business carried out in Canada” . Another survey of CRA employees found 71% believed the rules for setting up offshore corporations or tax accounts are too lenient while 80% felt taxevasion could be avoided if corporations were required to disclose more information about their operations in other jurisdictions. These insights from employees with professional knowledge in the field should be a wake-up call to government that it needs to fix Canada’s broken and biased tax system.

Wealth tax unsettling uber rich:

Just when you thought the call to tax the rich in the US couldn’t get any louder, it has collected new voices from Republican circles and a group of wealthy Americans who are angry that they’re not being taxed enough. The movement is ruffling some very rich feathers – Bill Gates and Howard Schultz have spoken out against some of the “extreme” tax proposals. As one excellent Canadian op-ed pointed out this week, “when billionaires have to take to the airwaves to defend themselves, something is happening.”

International corporate tax reforms:

The OECD is inviting public comments on its proposals to reform international corporate tax rules, especially as they apply to the digital economy. It released a policy note last month that looked at ways to fix the current international tax system, including measures to address problems in a digital economy. The organization is accepting comments until March 6 and hosting a public consultation from March 13-14, with plans to present to the G20 in Japan this spring. Meanwhile, New Zealand this week joined the growing list of countries making their own plans for a digital tax.

BC budget step in the right direction:

The BC government unveiled several progressive measures in its budget this week, including climate action tax credits, eliminating MSP premiums and increasing child benefits for lower-income families -- investments that can help decrease spending down the road. For further reading on the budget, check out this op-ed in the Tyee and some great analysis being done by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ BC chapter. While we didn’t see any specific spending to address BC’s money laundering problem, the province did commit in its speech to end the hidden ownership of property, an important step to end snow-washing, although both levels of government need to do more.

Budget 2019 date announced:

Mark your calendars for March 19. Finance Minister Bill Morneau will unveil his government’s budget for the year. He told media the budget will focus on issues such as “skills training, the housing needs of millennials, seniors’ issues and the cost of prescription drugs”. In addition to our pre-budget submission, Canadians for TaxFairness messaged the Minister asking for several key important changes: eliminate unfair tax loopholes, tackle tax havens and corporate tax avoidance, level the digital playing field, and end snow-washing. We will also continue lobbying the government for a thorough and inclusive review of Canada’s tax system.

Dutch historian trolls the right again:

For anyone following progressive historian Rutger Bregman’s run-ins with the rich, powerful and conservative, here’s the latest encounter to go viral. This week’s leak of FOX news figure Tucker Carlson losing it follows Bregman’s enflaming comments about billionaires last month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he harshly criticized them for tax avoidance, and called for higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

Have a suggestion for a news item or event that you would like to see mentioned in next week’s review? Please get in touch: Erika.beauchesne@taxfairness.ca