It’s time to address the double standard about tax havens
Canadians hate tax havens. This is according to a poll recently conducted by Environics Institute that showed 90 per cent of Canadians believe tax havens are morally wrong, while 87 per cent believe their use should be banned. And Canadians are right to be upset; tax avoidance robs countries like Canada of billions of dollars in annual revenue.
A practice once shrouded in secrecy, tax avoidance has been brought to the fore by high-profile leaks like the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers. And in their wake, the federal government has insisted the Canada Revenue Agency will be more aggressive in its fight to bring back lost Canadian tax money. But we’re doing it wrong: by going after smaller and often poorer jurisdictions with incessant tax compliance regulations and threats of blacklisting, tax avoidance isn’t curtailed, and the main culprits are not held to account. That’s because the countries who are the worst offenders aren’t the most typically vilified targets, like Bermuda, the Isle of Man, and the Bahamas—they’re some of our close allies and partners.