06/18/2013 05:35 EDT | Updated 08/18/2013 05:12 EDT

The Conservatives Are Going After Tax Cheats

The NDP are falsely asserting that Canada is against discussions at the G-8 to crack down on international tax evasion. As Prime Minister Harper's comments recently made clear, our government fully supports Prime Minister Cameron's efforts to achieve a G-8 consensus on tax havens and tax evasion. In fact, the Prime Minister stated that "we're very supportive of all three Ts (trade, transparency, and taxes) of Prime Minister Cameron's agenda."

The discussions taking place at the G-8 will build on our government's strong record of action to ensure that all Canadians are paying their fair share of taxes. Since 2006 the CRA has audited thousands of international cases and has identified over $4.5-billion as a result.

In addition, we have increased the size of the CRA's international audit program by roughly 40%. We also recently announced the creation of a dedicated new "SWAT" team of CRA experts to oversee the implementation of tough new measures and crack down on anyone seeking to hide income or assets offshore.

Our government has introduced over 75 measures to improve the integrity of the tax system, including several announced in Economic Action Plan 2013:

• requiring certain financial intermediaries, including banks, to report international electronic funds transfers of $10,000 or more to the CRA;

• extending the reassessment period for taxpayers who have failed to report income from a specified foreign property and failed to properly file the Foreign Income Verification Statement (Form T1135);

• revising Form T1135 to require more detailed information including the names of specific foreign institutions and countries where offshore assets are located and the foreign income earned on those assets;

• streamlining the process for the CRA to obtain information concerning unnamed persons from third parties, such as banks; and,

• announcing a new Stop International Tax Evasion Program through which the CRA will pay rewards to individuals that provide information of major international tax non-compliance to the CRA that leads to the collection of outstanding taxes due.

Our government is actively negotiating increased information sharing between nations, and has over 100 tax treaties and information exchange agreements now in place. Working through this extensive international network, we were able to obtain vast amounts of information regarding Canadians with offshore assets before an international media group released data online.

The Harper government has also been working diligently to improve corporate transparency. Earlier this year, Canada committed -- as part of the recent G-20 Finance Ministers meeting -- its full support for the OECD's ambitious project on base erosion and profit shifting. This includes taking necessary collective action with our international partners after the release of the comprehensive action plan expected from the OECD later this year.

Economic Action Plan 2013 also announced that our government will consult Canadians on the issue of corporate transparency, with a focus on bearer shares and the ability of competent authorities to access information on beneficial ownership. These consultations will ensure that Canadians views are taken into account as we work towards the OECD plan.

Our government is taking action to ensure that our tax laws are respected, while simultaneously working at home and abroad to ensure that our tax system meets Canadians' expectations of fairness and transparency. We are providing CRA with the tools needed to ensure the integrity of the tax system, supporting international talks to better share information, and working to close loopholes and increase corporate transparency.

While the NDP have opposed all of these measures, our government will continue to take action to strengthen the tax system and go after tax cheats.

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