En réaction aux difficultés financières causées par la pandémie de COVID-19, le gouvernement canadien a introduit en avril 2020 la Subvention salariale d’urgence du Canada (la « SSUC »), l’un des plus importants programmes fiscaux de l’histoire du pays afin d’aider les entreprises à garder ou rappeler leurs employés au travail.
Durant l’été 2020, l’Agence du revenu du Canada (l’«ARC ») a annoncé que des ressources importantes seraient consacrées à la vérification des employeurs ayant fait une demande de SSUC, ne laissant aucun doute sur le sérieux de l’ARC à ce sujet. En septembre 2020, l’ARC est passée de la parole aux actes puisque les premières vérifications ont débuté, tel que le démontre la copie d’une lettre de vérification envoyée par l’ARC (disponible en anglais seulement).
In response to the financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada introduced the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS“) in April 2020, one of the largest tax programs in the country’s history, to help companies retain or recall their employees.
In the summer of 2020, the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) announced that significant resources would be devoted to audit employers that have claimed the CEWS, leaving no doubt that the CRA was getting serious about enforcement. In September 2020, the CRA moved from words to actions as the first of these audits have already started, as may be seen from a copy of such CRA CEWS audit letter here.
Depuis plusieurs années, de nombreuses pratiques de Revenu Québec (« RQ ») ont été dénoncées par le public, les médias et différents organismes. Ceci a contribué à la perte de confiance du public envers l’agence gouvernementale.
Dans son rapport annuel 2014-2015, le Protecteur du citoyen déplorait le comportement de RQ auprès des contribuables et soulignait, en résumé :
- la judiciarisation inutile des désaccords ;
- l’application de positions rigides malgré les décisions contradictoires des tribunaux ;
- les méthodes de vérification inadéquates et abusives ;
- l’émission d’avis de cotisation erronés basés sur des présomptions inadéquates;
- le refus de RQ de considérer les explications de certains contribuables.
On November 5, 2017, a massive leak of financial documents referred to as the Paradise Papers was released to the public. The leak involves multiple jurisdictions and contains nearly 13.4 million confidential electronic documents relating to offshore investment. The Paradise Papers comes largely from Appleby, a law firm based in Bermuda, and from the corporate registries of 19 tax havens.
The Paradise Papers cover the period from 1950 to 2016 and involve over 120,000 people and companies across the world, including government officials, entertainment personalities and corporate giants. It also involves more than 3,000 Canadian individuals and corporations, which is five times more than the ones from the Panama Papers.
On November 3, 2017, just a few days prior to this new leak, the Canada Revenue Agency (the “CRA”) delivered a statement (document) to highlight its work to combat tax evasion and tax avoidance. The CRA stated having “currently more than 990 audits and more than 42 criminal investigations related to offshore underway”, 123 of which involve participants and facilitators named in the Panama Papers. In light of the recent Paradise Papers leak, the CRA already announced that it is reviewing the data and promised to take “appropriate action”.
Furthermore, as part of the CRA’s strategy to combat offshore tax evasion and aggressive tax planning, the CRA announced earlier this year that a revised voluntary disclosures program policy would be introduced in 2018. The proposed changes were initially supposed to be implemented on January 1, 2018, but the CRA is delaying the implementation until March 1, 2018. The formal keys changes confirmed by the CRA will :
- eliminate the « no-names » disclosure process;
- require payment of the estimated tax at the time of the application;
- cancel relief if it is subsequently discovered that the application was not complete due to a misrepresentation; and
- create a two tracks system by introducing a « General Program » for minor non-compliance and a « Limited Program » for major non-compliance with limited relief in certain circumstances;
Such circumstances could include, for example :
- Situations where large amounts of tax were avoided;
- Active efforts to avoid detection and the use of complex offshore structures;
- Multiple years of non-compliance;
- Disclosures motivated by CRA statements regarding its intended focus of compliance, by broad-based tax compliance programs or by the reception of leaked confidential information by the CRA such as the Paradise Papers data leak; and
- Other circumstances in which the CRA considers that there was a high degree of guilt in the taxpayer’s conduct contributing to his failure to comply.
The 7th edition of the International Tax Review guide mentioned five partners of Fasken as leading tax dispute resolution lawyers in Canada. This prestigious recognition is based on their outstanding success in the past year and consistently positive feedback from peers and clients.
The five partners that made the Tax Controversy Leader’s list of 2017 are :
Congratulations to the listed partners!