Using the Law to Stop Corporate Tax Dodging

"It's legal."

That's the cynical, shoulder-shrugging response corporate Canada and many politicians give when confronted with the widespread use of tax havens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

Well here's an idea - let's make it illegal.

That's what NDP MP Murray Rankin is trying to do.  When Rankin was NDP Finance Critic he made it his business to find out how tax havens and profit shifting affected Canada's economy.  And he realized that Canada needed to change the law.

Mr. Rankin’s proposed new legislation would make it easier for government and the courts to crack down on corporations who are playing the tax system.   His bill will focus on proving "economic substance."  Corporations must be able to prove a transaction has economic purpose aside from reducing the amount of tax owed. Setting up a storefront office in Cayman Islands or Switzerland and then sending large invoices back to the Canadian head office charging "management" or "licensing fees" would no longer be acceptable.

He first proposed the bill in June 2014 but was unsuccessful.  He is not giving up.

There is more than $250Billion in corporate money in the top 10 tax havens - most of it untaxed. Murray has been working to make sure that the law is more robust. 

He  consulted on this legislation with internationally known tax expert Robert McMechan. The Ottawa-based McMechan is the author of a recent book, Economic Substance and Tax Avoidance. He points out that the U.S, Australia and the U.K. are among the countries that have drawn the line between legitimate tax minimization and unacceptable tax avoidance.  

Our partners at Nova Scotia for Tax Fairness have invited Rankin to talk about the issue and explain his bill on  Friday May 26 - 11 AM  5563 Black Street, Halifax. If you are interested in attending, contact them here