In Budget 2019 the federal government has continued to bolster its tools and resources to detect and prosecute tax evasion. As such, several measures have been proposed, including a C$150.8 million investment over the next five years to fund new initiatives. More so than ever, tax professionals should be well acquainted with various definitions to ensure that their client services and advice cannot be construed as the commission or facilitation of a criminal offence.
The minister of finance recently tabled the 2019 Budget. As a pre-election budget, the government appears to have shied away from tax measures that could receive negative backlash from the business community. Among other things, the government is proposing to expand the foreign affiliate dumping rules to apply to Canada-resident corporations that are controlled by non-resident individuals or trusts.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation recently reported that the Canada Revenue Agency has transferred more than 1.6 million Canadian banking records to the US Internal Revenue Service since the intergovernmental agreement for the enhanced exchange of tax information under the Canada-US Tax Convention was entered into in 2014. The agreement provides lengthy and detailed rules with respect to the information that the Canadian government must transfer to the United States.
Earnings within tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs) and other tax-deferred plans are, in principle, supposed to grow tax free. However, some taxes still apply, including the advantage tax which applies at the rate of 100% of any 'advantage' (as defined in the Income Tax Act). This tax has become one of the Canada Revenue Agency's favourite tools to effectively expropriate what it views as improperly boosted returns within a TFSA.
The Federal Court has made a strong statement against an interpretation of the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA's) powers that would allow almost unlimited invasions of taxpayer privacy. The force with which the court rejected the self-serving interpretation advanced by the CRA should be encouraging for taxpayers. The case serves as an important reminder that the CRA cannot act outside the bounds of law and that it is the courts, and not the CRA, that interpret the law.