Finance Committee MPs Should Demand PBO Answers on Tax Gap

Media Release

 Wednesday March 7, 2013

 Ottawa – The House of Commons Finance Committee investigating the impact of tax havens on Canada’s economy should immediately call Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page to produce a report on lost revenues.  Earlier this week, Page released a document indicating a method to estimate such losses.  Last month, Canada Revenue Agency officials dismissed requests from the committee for such an estimate. 

 “What don’t they want taxpayers to know?” says C4TF Director Dennis Howlett. ““Half the governments in the OECD have ways to estimate the tax gap.”

 “It is troubling that when the Parliamentary Budget Officer offers to produce an estimate of the tax gap, CRA refuses to provide the information he needs,” says Howlett. “While most Canadians faithfully pay their taxes, this government wants to downplay the fact that hundreds of billions of dollars are going offshore to tax havens – virtually untracked and untaxed.  That increases the tax burden for the rest of us.”

 Howlett points out that a recent letter from PBO Kevin Page to Liberal Senator Percy Downe is the latest example of government stonewalling.

 Page said he was unable to obtain data from the Canada Revenue Agency that could provide a “Tax Gap” estimate - the difference between revenue the government ought to be able to collect and what is actually collected.

 Stonewalling has been a feature of testimony at this committee, Howlett says. Canada’s big banks did not appear when requested – sending instead a Bankers Association spokesperson.

 MPs need answers about why banks are so heavily involved in tax havens and what policies they have in place to ensure their tax haven subsidiaries are not facilitating tax evasion, organized crime money laundering and financing terrorism. Canadians for Tax Fairness is urging the Finance Committee to repeat their call to the banks to testify and answer these questions.

 Canadians for Tax Fairness is a national citizens’ organization dedicated to fair taxation.