NDP accuses Harper of stalling G8 tax cheat crackdown
June 11th, 2013 - 6:31pm
Canada should stop stalling international efforts to crack down on offshore tax havens, NDP MPs urged Tuesday as world leaders prepared to gather for a meeting of the G8.
“Why Stephen Harper would choose to protect those who use international tax havens to evade paying their taxes is inexplicable and is unacceptable,” said NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar.
“But it fits a pattern of behavior from a Conservative government that has repeatedly undermined efforts to reach a multilateral consensus on important issues facing the world.”
The Conservative government, however, says it is serious about offshore tax evasion and Canada supports British Prime Minister David Cameron’s push for measures to help countries track offshore tax evasion.
“This builds on the Government’s commitment to the OECD’s ambitious project on base erosion and profit shifting,” Revenue Minister Gail Shea’s office said in a statement. “This commitment includes taking collective action with our international partners after the release of the OECD’s comprehensive action plan expected later this year.”
The comments come as Prime Minister Stephen Harper travels to the U.K and Europe, leading up to next week’s G8 meeting in Northern Ireland. This year, Cameron has made combating tax evasion one of the key themes of the meeting that will bring the leaders of the world’s eight wealthiest countries around the same table.
“Britain and other countries around the world are waking up to the stark reality of the billions of dollars in tax revenue that is simply lost,” said NDP Revenue Critic Murray Rankin, adding that Canada loses $5-$7.8 billion a year in tax evasion. “That is why a clampdown on corporate and individual tax avoidance and evasion is one of the central themes of the G8 summit.”
However, Dewar accused the government of acting as a “spoiler” to thwart efforts to crack down on international tax cheats and make it easier to find out who is the true beneficiary behind an offshore bank account or a shell company.
The G8 meeting will also discuss the prospect of a common reporting standard for resource extraction companies, requiring they report on all payments to foreign governments.
“This would ensure that corporations are accountable at home for payments that they make in exchange for deals overseas and that foreign governments can be held accountable by their own publics for money they receive.”
“As the most important resource economy in the G8, Canadian commitment to these efforts is essential.”
Clearer rules and a level playing field would also help Canadian companies, Dewar argued.
“Canadians want our companies to be successful and responsible representatives of Canada and Canadian companies want clear and consistent standards for international business. Enforced international regulations will create a level playing field for all companies while ensuring environmental labor and human rights protection of which we can all be proud.”