You did it! Major crackdown on tax evasion. | Leadnow.ca (new site demo)

You did it! Major crackdown on tax evasion.

For the past month, Leadnow and Canadians for Tax Fairness have been working together to push our new government to tackle tax evasion. Week after week, thousands of us have turned up the pressure, and shown that we’ll support progress.

We are winning. I’m writing to tell you what’s happened and to get your input about what’s next.

In a press conference yesterday, our new Minister of Revenue, Diane Lebouthiller, said, “we really want to put the axe into everything that touches tax evasion.”[1] She then announced new plans to detect, investigate, and prosecute wealthy tax evaders by:

  • Targeting four specific tax havens, including the Isle of Man, which was at the centre of the CRA’s amnesty deal with Canadians who had invested in shell companies through KPMG,
  • Going after “high-risk” individuals and corporations by hiring 100 new auditors and investigators, and adding lawyers to its investigation team,
  • Using penalties and criminal investigations to target the wealth management funds, accounting firms, and big banks that create and promote “these tax schemes for the wealthy,” and
  • Measuring the tax gap – the difference between what the government collects and what it should be collecting – in cooperation with the OECD. [2]

People power is working! Minister Lebouthillier’s announcements – and a number of other recent wins – came after sustained work by Canadians for Tax Fairness with a major push from the Leadnow community and a petition from SumOfUs. Here’s what we’ve already done together:

  • In mid-March, after the story broke that the CRA let massive accounting firm KPMG get away with facilitating tax evasion, 8,856 of you sent Minister of Finance Bill Morneau emails calling on him to close tax loopholes in the Liberals’ first budget.
  • Immediately after Minister Morneau announced $444.4 million to crack down on tax evasion in the March 22 budget, 2868 of you tweeted to thank him!
  • Last week, in the wake of the Panama Papers, another 9,178 (for a total of 18,034) of you sent messages to Minister of Finance Bill Morneau, Minister of Revenue Diane Lebouthillier, and Chair of the Parliamentary Finance Committee Wayne Easter calling on them to carry through a comprehensive review of tax loopholes.
  • When Wayne Easter, Chair of the Parliamentary Finance Committee, called for an independent and comprehensive review of Canada’s tax system, 926 of you tweeted to thank him!
  • And just yesterday, Minister of Revenue Diane Lebouthillier announced her plan for how the government will recover the millions of dollars that wealthy Canadians have squirreled away in offshore accounts.
  • We’ve shown that we can push this government to adopt good policies – and support them when they do.

So here’s where we’re things stand now. The Liberals have started to take steps to stop individuals from hiding their money and evading taxes. Now there are a couple of key tests on the horizon that will show if they’re serious about evening the playing field: will they charge KPMG for facilitating tax evasion? Will they close the tax loopholes that let corporations funnel billions offshore?

Through this campaign you’ve worked together to raise awareness, spoken out with a united voice, and built the people power we will need to keep up the pressure when big business pushes back on closing tax loopholes. Now, we need to decide what’s next: should we keep up this campaign?

Congratulations! And thanks for all that you do,

Amara, on behalf of the Leadnow team

PS. This kind of rapid response is what the Leadnow community does best – raising awareness of key issues, while supporting the government when they do something good – and raising the alarm when we need to push them to do better. Can you chip in to help us continue hard-hitting rapid response campaigns and analysis like this?

SOURCES

[1] ‘High-risk’ taxpayers, offshore tax havens part of Ottawa crackdown: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/04/11/high-risk-taxpayers-offshore-tax-havens-part-of-ottawa-crackdown.html

[2] Government of Canada cracks down on tax evasion: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1049689