Finance Minister Bill Morneau says the government is considering legislation aimed at tax evaders that would give foreign authorities some access to Canadians’ confidential information.
Speaking in Toronto at the Canadian Club this morning, he stressed the proposal is aimed at cracking down on international money laundering and terrorism financing.
Morneau did not detail how the government will ensure the privacy of Canadians is not infringed on, but he says officials are committed to making sure all of Canadians’ freedoms and rights are respected.
The government snuck mention of the legislation into a supplementary document attached to the budget released this week.
Morneau 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. He adds 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.
In the budget’s supplementary tax measures document, the government proposes to allow the legal tools available under the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act (MLACMA) to be used for sharing criminal tax information. It also proposes to enable sharing tax information relating to non-tax offences such as terrorism and organized crime.
The budget would allow “confidential information under Part IX of the Excise Tax Act and the Excise Act, 2001 to be disclosed to Canadian police officers in respect of those offences where such disclosure is currently permitted in respect of taxpayer information under the Income Tax Act.”