Feds begin payouts to informants for offshore tax intelligence

Feds begin payouts to informants for offshore

tax intelligence

OTTAWA — The federal government has begun making payments to confidential informants for intelligence that has so far brought in more than $19 million from offshore tax evaders.

The Canada Revenue Agency issued the first rewards under its offshore tax-informant program between April 2018 and the end of March this year, newly released documents say.

The program was launched five years ago amid public pressure to find and penalize Canadians who improperly use offshore accounts to avoid paying their fair share of tax to Ottawa.

The revenue agency says it cannot disclose the specific amounts paid to informants because that data could potentially reveal their identities.

However, under the program, the reward is between five and 15 per cent of the federal tax collected in cases where the amount assessed and recouped exceeds $100,000.

The latest data on the informant program was recently presented to the House of Commons in response to written questions from New Democrat MP Pierre-Luc Dusseault.

The absence of additional details about the actual payouts makes it impossible to gauge the value of the informant program, Dusseault said in an interview Monday. The agency could have disclosed aggregate figures without compromising the identity of informants, he said.

“We can’t really judge, by this answer, the effectiveness of the program itself.”

The Sherbrooke, Que., MP is unimpressed that it took the agency five years to recoup $19 million. “By the numbers, it doesn’t seem like it’s working too well.”

The revenue agency says it received 1,431 calls as of March 31 this year to a hotline set up five years ago to field tips about offshore tax evasion.

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