TORONTO (NEWS 1130) – A buried section of the federal budget could mean foreign police organizations could gain access to Canadians’ personal and confidential tax information.
The federal finance minister says the government is considering new legislation in a small section of the budget’s annex that would grant Vanada new powers to share tax information of individuals with foreign authorities.
While this is raising some privacy and legal concerns, Bill Morneau defended the change following a speech to a business crowd in Toronto.
“This sort of effort is one that’s advancing our cause of ensuring tax fairness and ensuring that we don’t have people doing things that might be quite inappropriate,” he says. “We can actually get at people who are moving money in ways that might be avoiding, or evading, taxes. This is particularly important around things like money laundering or terrorist financing.”
Morneau did not detail how the government will ensure the privacy of Canadians is not infringed on, but says it is committed to making sure it is respectful of all Canadians’ freedoms and rights.
He says Canada already has a few mutual legal assistance international agreements that set reporting standards and help the country understand how Canadians move their money to other countries. Morneau explains the agreements have stemmed from concerns that some companies put their profits in countries offering low taxes and their revenues in places with higher taxes to reduce their tax implications.
Civil liberty groups have expressed concern, telling the CBC this could lead to someone’s personal information being passed on to countries that don’t have the same due process or constitutional protections as Canada.