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Canadian Ministers 'Committed To Beneficial Ownership Transparency'

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

13 December 2017

Finance ministers from across Canada have said that they are committed to ensuring greater transparency of beneficial ownership information.

Federal, provincial, and territorial finance ministers met in Ottawa this week to discuss a range of issues.

According to a statement issued after the meeting, the ministers "committed to work to ensure appropriate authorities know who owns which corporations in Canada, and to better harmonize corporate ownership record requirements between their jurisdictions."

The statement added that these measures "are intended to prevent webs of Canadian or international companies from concealing ownership information in order to facilitate tax evasion, money laundering, and other criminal activities."

The federal Finance Department acknowledged that Canada "has significant blind spots when it comes to knowing the identity of those who own or control a corporation operating in Canada." The Department said that, to address these blind spots, action will be taken to ensure that the appropriate authorities have timely access to this information in all Canadian jurisdictions.

The ministers reached the following:

  • An agreement in principle to reforms to relevant federal, provincial, and territorial legislation that would ensure that corporations hold accurate and up-to-date information on beneficial owners. This information would be made available to law enforcement and tax authorities;
  • An agreement in principle on the pursuit of legislative amendments that would eliminate the use of bearer shares and bearer share warrants or options, and to replace existing ones with registered instruments;
  • An agreement to work to bring these changes into force by July 1, 2019;
  • An agreement to develop a joint outreach and consultation plan for engagement with the business community and other stakeholders;
  • An agreement to continue existing work on assessing possible means for enhancing the timely access by relevant authorities to beneficial ownership information; and
  • An agreement to establish a federal, provincial, and territorial working group to combat aggressive tax planning strategies that erode the integrity of the Canadian tax base.

TAGS: compliance | tax | business | tax compliance | tax avoidance | law | corporation tax | enforcement | legislation | tax planning | Canada | BEPS

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