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article imageOp-Ed: Screw the middle class, the rich have their secret tax havens

By Karl Gotthardt     Apr 4, 2013 in Politics
Toronto - A hard drive obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has revealed a secretive network of financial transactions that provides the rich with offshore tax havens. The rich find tax havens and the middle class pays the price.
While the majority of Canadians play by the rules, others find legal tax loopholes to reduce their tax load. A hard drive distributed to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and news agencies in 35 other countries, reveals how the rich hide their money and identity. The practice costs the federal government billions of dollars in tax revenue.
Canada's Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty, announced during his budget speech that the government would go after off shore tax cheaters and while most analysts believed this would be difficult, this hard drive may give the government the necessary boost.
CBC reports that the massive data leak of documents reveals the investment information of more than 100,000 people around the globe, including hundreds of Canadians. According to the report, CBC is one of 37 media outlets that has partnered with the International Consortium of International Journalists (ICIJ) in the last seven months.
The revelation is a slap in the face for those of us who play by the rules and pay our taxes. Sadly the documents reveal that at least one Canadian senator's husband has secretly moved $2 million to secret havens. In this case, it is a liberal senator, but it could be any party affiliation.
A prominent Canadian lawyer, husband to a Liberal senator, moved nearly $2 million to secretive financial havens while he was locked in battle with the Canada Revenue Agency over his taxes, according to documents in a massive leak of offshore financial data.
Tony Merchant of Regina, dubbed Canada's class-action king because of the large settlements he has won for his clients, transferred money to a tax haven in the South Pacific and then onward to an account in the Caribbean, according to the files. His wife, Senator Pana Merchant, as well as their three sons are named in the documents as beneficiaries of the funds.
Merchant, who is a former member of the Saskatchewan legislative assembly, has consistently fought the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), while transferring funds overseas to a firm called Portcullis Trustnet based in the Cook Islands in the South Pacific.
Another Liberal Senator, Percy Downe, according to the Toronto Star reports said if the rich hide their money regular tax paying Canadians have to pay more.
“The government has a set amount they have to spend every year. If they don’t get that from all taxpayers, if only a few of us are paying, we have to pay more to make up the shortfall."
The ICIJ project, which was named "Secrecy for Sale" shows that 450 Canadians have money hidden offshore.
What's good for the goose is good for the gander. This is an opportunity for the Canadian government to work with media outlets and ICIJ to get to the bottom of this story, pursue violators and collect the owed back taxes. While most western countries are struggling with their finances and obligations, it is truly time for the rich to pay their fair share. They can start by playing by the rules. The rest of us do.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Tax shelters, Canada, Canadian Politics, Canada revenue agency
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