Canada Revenue Agency asks CBC to submit data on tax havens

 By: Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive:

The use of tax havens is at an all-time high in Canada and it’s costing Canadians an estimated $7.8 billion annually, the executive director of Canadians for Tax Fairness, Dennis Howlett, recently said in his brief to the House of Commons Finance Committee.

Now the Canada Revenue Agency has asked the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. to share the data it has on more than 450 Canadians who have money stashed away in offshore accounts.

According to the Globe and Mail, “the CBC is a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a Washington-based group that compiled a list of alleged users of offshore tax havens. As many as 450 Canadians are on the list, but the CBC has only reported on Tony Merchant – a class-action lawyer who is married to Senator Pana Merchant and allegedly moved $2-million to an offshore account while he was feuding with tax authorities.”

On April 12, 2013, the CRA issued the following letter to the CBC:

Mr. Hubert Lacroix
President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
205 Wellington Street West
Room 4E301-B
Toronto ON M5V 3G7

Dear Mr. Lacroix:

I am writing in regard to the CBC’s recent coverage of offshore tax havens. It is my understanding that a leak of large amounts of data potentially exposing cases of offshore aggressive tax avoidance and possibly tax evasion is the catalyst for these stories. I also understand that your organization may be in possession of some or all of this data.

You will know that the Canada Revenue Agency has already been in touch with your organization to underscore the importance of this information to our continuing efforts on behalf of Canadians to combat offshore aggressive tax avoidance and evasion.

I would expect that both the CBC and you, as its president and CEO, have an interest in ensuring that appropriate action is taken if individuals are not respecting their tax obligations. Taking action against individuals who are not respecting their tax obligations is in the best interest of the public and law abiding Canadians. The provision of the data that your organization has in its possession would allow the CRA to pursue cases where this is occurring without in any way infringing on your journalistic mandate.

I again respectfully request that you provide to the Canada Revenue Agency all of the data the CBC received through its collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists so that the Agency may review and take action according to its mandate. I understand that the CBC is reluctant to provide this data, citing concerns with journalistic independence and protecting sources. I can assure you that the Canada Revenue Agency has not asked for the source of the information and will treat any information you provide with strict confidentiality in the same manner it treats all taxpayer information it receives.

I sincerely hope that you will respond positively to this request and agree to provide this information so that the CRA can carry out its responsibilities.

I look forward to your reply.


Andrew Treusch

Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer

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Obert Madondo

Publisher and editor
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based independent journalist and progressive political blogger. He's the publisher and editor of The Canadian Progressive.