OTTAWA, Ontario, Nov. 14, 2012 /CNW/ - The following is released by the Isaac Brock Society:
Recently the Department of Finance invited comments on what was characterized as "an agreement to improve cross-border tax compliance through . . . the provisions enacted by the United States commonly known as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)." This eleventh-hour invitation came as sources in both Ottawa and Washington announced that they were close to finalizing an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that would, in effect, deputize the Canadian government to enforce this American law in Canada.
The Department's invitation is to "persons whose interests are affected by the provisions of FATCA" but does not spell out that each andevery Canadian would suffer from FATCA and from an IGA to implement it:
Canadian citizens have an interest in preserving Canada's sovereignty against U.S. encroachment. However it is disguised, FATCA is a unilateral U.S. initiative. The U.S. didn't negotiate a global tax scheme with Canada and other countries but instead enacted an unprecedented extraterritorial law and demands that Canada comply and bear the costs. An IGA simply puts a Canadian glove on the hand enforcing American law.
Canadian taxpayers have an interest in a tax policy that benefits Canada's needs, not America's. Sold under the guise of "reciprocity" and "partnership," an IGA in reality would be a costly one-way street imposed by the U.S. Given the differences between the two countries' tax systems, FATCA would accelerate a zero-sum game that siphons wealth from Canada and robs the Canadian treasury.
Canadian consumers have an interest in avoiding foreign schemes that impose costly non-economic regulations on Canadian firms (banks, insurance companies, pension funds, stock and investment companies) – who will then pass those costs on to consumers. With or without an IGA, FATCA's costs will be in the billions of dollars (for example, one major bank alone would pay an estimated $100 million in FATCA compliance!) These costs would be non-productive as regards the Canadian economy and a waste of human and material resources. Imposing these costs on Canadians supposedly is justified by the unproven hope that FATCA may trip up American "tax cheats," even though FATCA does little specifically to catch such people.
Canadians as human beings have an interest in ensuring their rights are protected under sovereign Canadian law. FATCA demands extraordinary disclosure of private information from Canadian residents deemed U.S. taxpayers by the IRS. Such disclosure would violate Canadian laws such as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, whose application Canada would be forced to alter under an IGA. Many of the people who rights would be abrogated are Canadian dual citizens who would be denied protection of Canada's laws to appease the U.S. Once it's established a foreign government can demand abridgment of such rights, even of Canadian citizens, where's the limit?
So why is the Government considering an IGA with the United States? Because of the very real fear that Washington otherwise would unilaterally impose FATCA on Canada at ruinous cost, especially a 30% withholding penalty on Canadian firms' U.S.-derived revenue. Simply put, this is a threat of U.S. economic sanctions against Canada.