Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Why Rich Tax Dodgers Should Be Named and Shamed
The Panama Papers' scandal has revealed a steaming mountain or pyramid of corruption.
Where the super rich live high off the hog, while countries deprived of tax dollars grow more and more miserable.
So I'm glad to see that the Liberal government is planning to step up efforts to go after our own tax cheats.
The Canada Revenue Agency is stepping up efforts to combat tax evasion and avoidance in hopes of generating billions more in revenue, announcing Monday it’s increasing the number of audits of wealthy individuals and hiring more auditors to investigate high-risk multinational corporations.
And is also going to go after those who enable that massive scam.
Also, the agency is launching a program to stop organizations that create and promote tax schemes for the wealthy. The agency will target more than 200 promoters of these tax schemes, many of who are often auditors.
But although the move is encouraging, one really has to wonder whether any efforts to obtain tax justice will succeed until the guilty are treated like mobsters and terrorists.
And the whole rotten system that allows the rich to stash away their money in offshore tax havens is challenged.
Globalised capitalism has become an organised and legalised form of corruption, in which the work of the manager, the inventor and the entrepreneur come second to that of people whose wealth “works for them” – preferably in a jurisdiction nobody can see.
Before it's too late.
Last week, Costas Efimeros, the editor of a Greek investigative website, warned that the Panama revelations might be the “last chance” for leak-journalism. If a revelation does not provoke outrage, and the wrongdoers go unpunished, he wrote, “then the continuous revelation of scandals has the exact opposite result: defeatism, the feeling of weakness, the fatalistic acceptance of the rule of the powerful”.
And one thing is for sure. As the Star editorial board points out, there will be no justice until the guilty are named and shamed.
If the Trudeau government is genuinely serious about clamping down, it should be prepared to name and shame miscreants with a lot more zeal than it has yet demonstrated. There’s nothing like shining the antiseptic light of day into murky corners, to discourage banks, law firms, accountancy firms and the like from enabling schemes that play fast and loose with the public treasury.
Because right now the Canada Revenue Agency and other agencies like Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) seem to have a double standard.
The small fish are cheerfully named and shamed, but the big fish are not.
Just last week FINTRAC, which tracks money laundering and terrorist financing among other things, announced it had levied a stiff $1.1-million penalty on a Canadian bank for failing to report a suspicious transaction and various money transfers. But it declined to name the institution involved. Meanwhile it is busy naming players who have been slapped with fines of $15,000 or less.
They can get amnesty like the millionaire clients of the accounting firm KPMG...
The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported that the group was required by CRA only to pay back the taxes they owed, plus interest. Yet the CRA routinely prosecutes and names people who fail to file tax returns or otherwise run afoul of the law.
While the CRA comes down on smaller offenders like a ton of bricks.
And it has to stop, before people lose confidence in the tax system.
If the government hopes to “give Canadians greater confidence that the tax system is fair to everyone,” its agencies should be prepared to publicly name offenders. Cutting deals to spare Ottawa the trouble of prosecuting, or to preserve the “good name” of financial institutions and their wealthy clients, isn’t going to reassure anyone other than the scofflaws themselves.
The guilty rich need to be named and shamed...
Their pictures should be printed in the newspapers so all should know who they are.
The CRA should go after their enablers, the accountants and experts who help them shield their wealth. Stashing money in offshore tax havens should be made illegal.
And if the capitalist hogs, who in the name of greed would make the lives of the rest of us more miserable, still don't get it.
The full force of new and harsher laws should come down on them like a ton of bricks.
And they should be sent to the place they belong...
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