A three-year effort to estimate the amount of tax revenue lost to Ottawa because of offshore tax havens and other dodges appears to be stalled again, despite a Liberal election commitment to “immediately begin” an analysis of the so-called “tax gap.”
The Parliamentary Budget Office has locked horns with the Canada Revenue Agency since 2013 in its attempt to get tax data needed to make an independent estimate, repeatedly rebuffed by arguments that the information is confidential.
The Liberal party campaigned last summer on a promise to measure the tax gap, noting that “(Stephen) Harper’s Conservative government refused to provide the PBO with the data that is needed to undertake a … (tax gap) analysis for Canada.”
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The PBO renewed its data request with CRA days after the March 22 federal budget, but there’s still no resolution in sight, with the agency making all the same confidentiality arguments.
The renewed PBO-CRA dispute comes to light shortly after the release of the so-called Panama Papers, a massive financial-data dump that exposes the international movement of money by the wealthy elite and corporations to tax havens. One report suggested there are 350 Canadians in the leaked database.
Asked about the Panama Papers while on a visit to Charlottetown, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said: “We will stay on this file. We believe that it’s important that we obviously have tax fairness and that people pay what they are expected to pay.”
“We don’t have any particular concerns around the Canadian system at this time but we are going to stay on top of this and keep monitoring,” Moreau added.