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It's easier for the rich to avoid paying taxes, say CRA tax professionals

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OTTAWA, Aug. 17, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Canadians who think it's easier for the rich and corporations to avoid paying taxes have compelling new evidence to support their suspicions. An overwhelming nine out of 10 Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) tax professionals surveyed by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) agree "it is easier for corporations and wealthy individuals to evade and/or avoid tax responsibilities than it is for average Canadians." That's even more than the 79% of Canadians who agreed with the same statement in an Environics Research poll commissioned by PIPSC.

Moreover, only 16% of tax professionals believe there is adequate audit coverage to ensure tax laws are being applied fairly across the country. Eight out of 10 (79%) say training and technology advancements within the CRA have not kept pace with the complexity of tax avoidance schemes. Yet, 84% of tax professionals surveyed say the CRA can do more to increase revenues without raising taxes, simply by better enforcing existing tax laws.

"These findings highlight the difficulties our members face to ensure Canada's tax system remains fair in the face of off-shore tax havens and other tax avoidance schemes," says PIPSC President Debi Daviau. "While the current government has reinvested significant amounts in the CRA since 2016, there remains a $500-million annual gap in CRA funding compared to 2012, when the former Harper government announced massive cuts to the agency's budget. That's money that should be reinvested in next year's federal budget to bolster employee training and technology and to strengthen additional efforts to ensure tax fairness."

Among other findings in the survey:

  • 81% say tax credits, tax exemptions and tax loopholes disproportionately benefit corporations and wealthy Canadians compared to average Canadians.

  • Three-quarters (75%) agree multinational corporations shift profits to low-tax regions even when there is little to no corresponding economic activity taking place in that jurisdiction.

  • Over one-third (37%) agree that internal restructuring at the CRA following the 2012 budget cuts resulted in average Canadians, charities and small businesses being targeted more relative to wealthy Canadians and corporations.

  • Nearly half (45%) agree that the ability of the CRA to carry out its mandate has been compromised by political interference.

Invitations to participate in the CRA professional employees survey were sent to 11,599 members of the Audit, Financial and Scientific Group (AFS) between February 20 and March 6, 2018, of which 2,170 (18.7%) responded. The public opinion survey by Environics Research was conducted by telephone among 1,000 Canadians between July 3 and 8, 2018 and the results can be considered accurate + or – 3.2%, 19 times out of 20.

The full report on the survey results, titled Shell Game: How Off-Shore Havens, Tax Loopholes, and Federal Cost-Cutting Undermine Tax Fairness, can be read here.

A further two, more detailed survey reports examining challenges to CRA resources and possible changes to Canadian tax policy will be released in the coming months.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada represents approximately 55,000 public service professionals across Canada, including nearly 12,000 auditors, managers, forensic accountants and other tax professionals at the CRA.

Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter (@pipsc_ipfpc).

For further information:

Pierre Villon, (613) 228-6310 ext. 4928 or (613) 794-9369 (cell), pvillon@pipsc.ca

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