Ot­tawa writes off bil­lions

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

Newly re­leased records show the fed­eral rev­enue agency has writ­ten off at least $4 bil­lion in debts in the last two years — in­clud­ing ac­counts worth more than $10 mil­lion.

Debts were de­clared un­col­lectible be­cause those ow­ing had died, gone bank­rupt, could not be lo­cated or lived out­side Canada, ac­cord­ing to Canada Rev­enue Agency records ob­tained un­der the Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion Act.

In other cases, of­fi­cials con­sid­ered it not worth the ex­pense to track down the money ow­ing or they reached a com­pro­mise set­tle­ment with the debtor.

The rev­enue agency says it makes ev­ery ef­fort to col­lect all tax debts from those who do not pay vol­un­tar­ily.

Mur­ray Rankin, the NDP’s deputy rev­enue critic, ques­tioned whether the gov­ern­ment is do­ing enough to col­lect the sub­stan­tial sums owed to the fed­eral trea­sury.

The out­stand­ing bal­ance in undis­puted, un­paid taxes was $29 bil­lion as of March 31, 2012, he fed­eral au­di­tor gen­eral re­ported in a 2013 ex­am­i­na­tion of the is­sue.

Ac­cord­ing to the latest fed­eral public ac­counts, the Canada Rev­enue Agency wrote off $3.4 bil­lion in debts in 2013-14, rep­re­sent­ing the lion's share of $3.7 bil­lion in to­tal fed­eral write-offs.

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