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.
As the deadline looms for honest tax-paying Canadians to file their income tax, word comes this week that the wealthiest among us are going to extreme lengths to avoid paying their fair share. The Panama Papers, at 2.6 terabytes of data believed to be the largest-ever leak of documents, reveal the secret dealings of the world's rich and famous who avoid paying taxes. The scheme is to funnel cash through shell companies offering tax havens around the world. And Panama is just one of many examples.
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?
By making it easier to navigate the tax rules and meet their obligations, Canadians will spend less time and less of their money on preparing their taxes, leaving more in their pockets. For Canadian businesses, productivity could improve as they spend less time, effort and capital dealing with tax compliance and red tape.
For a government that prides itself on holding the line on taxes and cutting red tape, the B.C. Liberals have sure blundered on their new off-road vehicle (ORV) tax and licensing scheme. Late last year, the government began forcing people -- mainly rural British Columbians -- to register their off-road vehicles, including snowmobiles, ATVs and dirt bikes.
As life becomes increasingly mobile, there is an uptick in the number of Canadians who start and manage small businesses without brick and mortar locations. No matter how mobile or field-based entrepreneurs earn their income, it's important to understand how these modern business endeavours impact your taxes. Here's an overview of what you need to know before you file.
As Canadians we like to take pride in our publicly funded healthcare system, but the truth is many of us -- especially those with or caring for someone with disabilities or chronic conditions -- pay out of pocket for a wide range of essential health services. Studies show Canadians pay as much as 30 per cent of our health needs privately.
For people expecting a refund, it may seem like a bonus payout from the government and feels great for a few moments until you realize it is money you overpaid the government in 2015. You are getting it back several months later with no interest. Once you understand this, tax refunds may not seem like a good idea after all.
From a northern perspective, Super Tuesday in the U.S. can be a spectacular political event. A candidate unexpectedly rises to the front or, in this case, continues their unexpected rise to the Presidential candidacy. And, like clockwork, a contingent of American voters suddenly proclaim that they're going to move to Canada. So what should people who are thinking of making the trek know about our tax system?
This desire to 'do good' without any financial reward might help explain why the number of Canadians taking advantage of charitable tax credits plummeted from 29.5 to 21.9 per cent from 1990 to 2013, and why under six million people claim the federal Charitable Donation Tax Credit each year despite the fact that about 24 million of us (about 85 per cent of Canadians) make an annual financial donation to charity.
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.