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CRA Asks For Access To Data Leaked In Panama Papers

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

06 April 2016

Canada's Revenue Minister has instructed tax authority officials to obtain the data leaked through the so-called "Panama papers."

In a statement, the Canada Revenue Agency said that it was "actively pursuing the cooperation of its tax treaty partners and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to obtain all of the leaked records that pertain to Canadian residents." The information obtained will be cross-referenced with data already held by the Agency as a result of its own investigations.

The Panama papers contain more than 11.5m documents belonging to Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. They include emails, financial spreadsheets, passports, and corporate records relating to the ownership of bank accounts and companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions, and cover a nearly 40-year period. Mossack Fonseca has denied that "the primary function of the services we provide is to facilitate tax avoidance and/or evasion."

The CRA said: "We will continue to analyze relevant information from all sources to identify Canadian taxpayers who may have used accounts to hide or conceal money offshore in an effort to avoid or evade paying tax. Compliance actions are being taken according to the information available in each case, including referrals to the CRA's Criminal Investigations Directorate and, where appropriate, the Public Prosecution Services of Canada for possible criminal prosecution."

The recent Budget allocated CAD444.4m (USD337.98m) to the CRA's compliance program over the next five years. The money will be used to hire additional auditors and specialists, develop a robust business intelligence infrastructure, increase verification activities, and improve the quality of investigative work that targets criminal tax evaders. The Government will also introduce country-by-country requirements for large multinationals, and the CRA will apply revised international guidance on transfer pricing practices. Canada will implement the Common Reporting Standard developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development from July 2017.

The CRA also operates an Offshore Tax Informant Program (OTIP), which allows the Agency to pay individuals who confidentially provide specific information about major international non-compliance. It has received calls from more than 800 individuals since the program began in January 2014, and is reviewing over 120 cases.

The Agency said that it was "committed to combating the abusive use of offshore jurisdictions and protecting the integrity of the Canadian tax system."

TAGS: individuals | compliance | Offshore | tax | business | tax compliance | tax avoidance | law | audit | tax authority | offshore | multinationals | transfer pricing | Canada | Panama | Tax | Tax Evasion

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