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5 reasons Canada lags on tax-haven crackdown

06/16/2013 02:16 EDT | Updated 08/15/2013 05:12 EDT
When eight of the world's wealthiest countries gather on Monday for their annual forum, this time in Northern Ireland, the meeting will focus on, among other things, offshore tax havens.

The G8 summit on Monday and Tuesday comes nearly two months after what is believed to be the largest ever leak of data from offshore tax havens, most of it from the Caribbean and South Pacific. CBC News was part of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists group that was given access to the data from 10 locales, involving 130,000 people.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, who currently chairs the G8, has come under increased political pressure at home to target these secretive offshore accounts and has made tax compliance a key focus of this year's gathering.

Cameron is seeking an international agreement that would require countries to reveal the true beneficial owners of shell companies and trusts, a measure necessary to ensure tax-information exchanges work.

But Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been resisting parts of the plan, according to a report this weekend in the British press.

Here's a look five recent CBC News stories that show how Canada has fared when it comes to dealing with offshore tax havens and tax cheats.

'Offshore' tax cheat conviction list questioned

A recent CBC analysis of the Canada Revenue Agency's "Offshore Convictions" list revealed that only a third of the cases seemed to involve someone hiding assets in an accepted tax-haven jurisdiction, meaning one that is "a jurisdiction with no taxes or a very low rate of tax, a lack of transparency in the operation of its tax system, and a lack of effective exchange of information with other countries," according to the CRA's own website.

International tax expert David Chodikoff noted the prosecutions touted by the government "don't smack of great success in my estimation." He also questioned why there haven't been any convictions from two other big data leaks in 2007 and 2009, when a combined total of nearly 1,900 Canadian names were given to the CRA.

- Read the story: Canada not targeting offshore tax cheats

No rewards for tax cheat data dumps

The U.S. and Germany have forked over millions of dollars to gain access to massive data leaks revealing secret offshore accounts that have allowed wealthy individuals to siphon funds away from government tax coffers. However, Canada had, until the most recent federal budget, rejected that approach. Its refusal to pay rewards cost the country early access to the lastest release of offshore haven data, the largest in recent history. Sources say the revenue agency was offered access to the records sometime before last December.

- Read the story: Revenue Canada rejected secret tax haven files

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