CRA set­ting its sights on sus­pected tax cheats

Agency af­ter $4.4 bil­lion

The Chronicle Herald (Provincial) - - CANADA - CHRISTOPHE­R NARDI

OT­TAWA – The fed­eral gov­ern­ment is claim­ing $4.4 bil­lion from Cana­di­ans and cor­po­ra­tions sus­pected of cheat­ing the tax­man by hid­ing their money, no­tably in off­shore tax havens.

“The gross num­ber is $4.4 bil­lion at this mo­ment. It's many years ahead of sched­ule, but it re­mains the gross num­ber,” said Ted Gal­li­van, assistant com­mis­sioner of in­ter­na­tional, large busi­ness and in­ves­ti­ga­tions branch at the Canada Rev­enue Agency.

Gal­li­van was re­spond­ing to a ques­tion from Bloc Québé­cois MP Julie Vig­nola dur­ing a vir­tual meet­ing of the House of Com­mons Com­mit­tee on Gov­ern­ment Op­er­a­tions and Es­ti­mates on Mon­day.

Vig­nola asked both CRA and the Min­is­ter of Na­tional Rev­enue Diane Le­bouthillie­r to de­tail the re­sults of over $1 bil­lion in in­vest­ments by the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment to fight tax fraud and off­shore tax evasion since 2015.

How many Cana­dian com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als does that $4.4 bil­lion in­volve? And how far back do those claims go? And what were the CRA'S claims tar­gets that the agency is now “many years ahead of sched­ule” on?

Gal­li­van wasn't asked to an­swer any of those ques­tions by MPS, and the assistant com­mis­sioner was not avail­able for an in­ter­view in the hours fol­low­ing the meet­ing.

But that $4.4 bil­lion is far from won for Canada's tax agency. Tax evasion cases, par­tic­u­larly when they in­volve wealthy in­di­vid­u­als and cor­po­ra­tions, of­ten lead to no­to­ri­ously long and dif­fi­cult court fights for the CRA.

And that's no dif­fer­ent to­day, said Gal­li­van, who em­pha­sized many times that $4.4 bil­lion re­mains the gross amount, not the amount ul­ti­mately re­couped by the agency.

“We still have a lot of cases that are in front of the courts, over 3,000 of them in fact. A lot of these in­quiries will be re­solved by the courts, but as of now, the gross amount is $4.4 bil­lion,” Gal­li­van ex­plained to MPS.

In many court cases, judges will end up award­ing the gov­ern­ment less than it asked for — when it wins.

“I think it might be rea­son­able to ex­pect the CRA might get half of that based on past ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Toby Sanger, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Cana­di­ans for Tax Fair­ness.

“Ob­vi­ously you need that tougher leg­is­la­tion. We do need stricter en­force­ment, but as the CRA keeps on los­ing, or has lost some sig­nif­i­cant cases, we def­i­nitely need stronger leg­is­la­tion on this and re­form of in­ter­na­tional cor­po­rate rules,” he said.

POSTMEDIA FILE

Canada Rev­enue Agency’s head­quar­ters in Ot­tawa.

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