by Gabrielle M.R. Richards of McCarthy Tétrault LLP
Canada’s 2013 federal budget (Budget 2013) released on March 21, 2013 introduces a number of measures to strengthen the ability of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to address international aggressive tax avoidance and to combat international tax evasion so as to maintain and protect Canada’s tax base. These measures reflect the trend in other countries such as the United Kingdom, where the March 20, 2013 budget announced significant new measures on tax avoidance and tax evasion (including “name and shame”) to increase tax compliance. These measures arrive at a time of increased social activism, media attention and political interest in one’s “fair share” of taxes being paid internationally. Further, revising deficits and falling tax revenues may be a reason for the recent focus by tax administrations on tax abuse. The Forum on Tax Administration (FTA), which actively shares information among G20, OECD and non-OECD countries, has identified compliance with tax laws as a key challenge facing tax administrations in the 21st century.
Coincidentally, on April 4, 2013 the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released information gathered from an investigation into the world of offshore money, which investigation revealed a global tax evasion web of named individuals and groups, including 450 Canadians.
The CRA quickly responded to the media coverage of the ICIJ release and