Is it collusion, corruption or just plain incompetence? That answer will likely play out over time if there is a public demand for accountability. In the meantime, Canadians need a plan to make sure that our leaders understand what we have known for a while -- the tax system is neither fair nor doing an adequate job.
In the wake of the Panama Papers investigation, federal anti-money laundering agency Fintrac slapped an unnamed Canadian bank with a $1.1-million penalty for failing to report a suspicious transaction and various money transfers. Fintrac hopes the move sends a "strong message" to individuals attempting to short the country's coffers. How's that, exactly?
The first major financial deadline of 2016 is February 29. This is the last day you can make a contribution to your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) and claim the contribution on your 2015 tax return. You still have the first 60 days to make contributions but with the leap year, the deadline is midnight at the end of the month.
It's February, folks, and you know what that means. Taxes... Yeah, yeah, Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day, 2016 leap year and all that. But it's also the time of year when people wake up to the fact that, oh crap, tax deadlines are looming, and that they better get their act together to reduce their tax bill -- not to mention their stress level.
It may be tempting to pay for certain things in cash because we think that saving a few dollars here and there can't hurt; however, we fail to see the larger impact of what happens when we do. The underground economy makes it challenging to protect the country's revenue base and hinders the government's ability to keep taxes low. When people pay in cash, they skip out on paying the taxes that support things like healthcare, education and public transportation -- the very social services we rely on every day.
There is little argument that Canadians deserve a fair tax system. It is unacceptable that there be even the slightest perception that corporations and wealthy individuals can avoid tax investigations by hiring a lobbyist or high-priced tax lawyer. The minister should be demanding answers -- on behalf of all Canadians -- from her senior managers.
After weeks of waiting, we finally know how the Liberals are starting to roll out their tax-related election promises. The previous government was notorious for introducing last minute, retroactive tax changes that it was hard to predict if the new government would follow suit. And now we have our answers.
Companies operating in Canada in 2014 held over $199 billion in "assets" -- unpaid taxes -- in havens like Barbados and the Cayman Islands. Canada is one of the biggest "losers" of corporate tax revenue. The "winner" countries are the ones with low-to-none corporate income tax, such as Bermuda, as well as the super-rich.
In Canada, our system is unique to the individual, and tax obligations are based on each person's allowable deductions and credits. Knowing what to include is often difficult for filers because, across Canada, confusion about taxes persists. Knowing how influential taxes were in the election, let's make sure we understand what is out there and available.
Last week, Canadian government plans for keeping better track of people coming and going from the U.S. were revealed. The driving purpose for the increased scrutiny will save the government millions of dollars in social benefits on those who shouldn't receive them because they are out of the country.