Federal government cracks down on offshore tax evasion with launch of paid informants program

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NATIONAL Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay on Wednesday launched the Offshore Tax Informant Program (OTIP), announced in Economic Action Plan 2013 as the Stop International Tax Evasion Program, one of the new measures to crack down on international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.

The new program will allow the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to pay individuals with information about major international tax non-compliance a percentage of the federal tax collected as a result of the information provided.

For more information on the Offshore Tax Informant Program, visit website at www.cra.gc.ca/otip

The informant’s hotline, 1-855-345-9042, is now open and ready to receive calls.

Under OTIP:

* the information an individual gives the CRA will be reviewed to decide if there is evidence of major international tax non-compliance that would ultimately lead to additional taxes being assessed and collected;

* the CRA will enter into a contract with the individual if the potential additional assessment of federal tax, excluding interest and penalties, is more than $100,000;

* a payment will be made to the individual after the tax debt has been collected and all recourse rights associated with the assessed tax have expired; and

* a payment will not be made to an individual who has been convicted of tax evasion related to the information provided.

Along with OTIP, the recently announced strengthened foreign income reporting requirements and the introduction of a streamlined legal process for getting information about unnamed persons, Economic Action Plan 2013 also proposes the mandatory reporting to the CRA of international electronic funds transfers over $10,000, which will help identify international non-compliance.

With this announcement, four of the five Economic Action Plan 2013 measures to combat international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance are now in place, with the remaining measure scheduled to take effect in 2015.

The federal government is investing $30 million over five years — $15 million to fund the electronic funds transfer initiative and $15 million to increase compliance and audit efforts and activities – to combat international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.

“Our government is committed to combatting international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance as part of its work to protect the important resources that Canadians can count on. Hiding income and assets in foreign jurisdictions to avoid taxes is a serious issue that undermines the integrity and fairness of Canada’s tax system,” said Findlay.