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View Pierre-Luc Dusseault Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Chair, I first want to thank Mr. Giroux and his colleagues for their work.
I know that you've been working on this issue for several years and that, even though you had other data sources, it wasn't very easy to enlist the co-operation of the Canada Revenue Agency to access the data that you used to prepare this report.
My first question concerns electronic funds transfers. You addressed international electronic funds transfers and transactions between affiliates or related companies. However, from what I can see, for the European Union's black and grey list countries alone, electronic funds transfers total $628 billion.
Can you give us an idea of the countries on these lists and the value of the $628 billion in electronic funds transfers between Canada and these countries and between these countries and Canada in relation to the size of the countries' GDP?
View Pierre-Luc Dusseault Profile
NDP (QC)
As Mr. Giroux said, the $628 billion in electronic funds transfers to these countries or from these countries to Canada are disproportionate to the real economic activity of these countries.
The same is true for offshore financial centres, which are covered in the other part of your study on electronic funds transfers. There are sink and conduit financial centres. Perhaps it isn't necessary to go into detail. Three trillion dollars pass through these offshore financial centres. We rarely say “trillion dollars” in French, but the amount is more than a few billion dollars.
Can you provide a typical example of an offshore financial centre? How much money goes through these financial centres and what does this mean in terms of the country's economic activity?
View Pierre-Luc Dusseault Profile
NDP (QC)
Exactly. This is the result of the globalization of our economy and the fact that, with the emergence of the Internet, transactions to these financial centres take milliseconds to complete. The funds then move on to other countries, which become hubs of financial flows. The funds only pass through these countries for tax or financial reasons, as you just said.
The other finding—
View Pierre-Luc Dusseault Profile
NDP (QC)
The other part of this study concerns transactions between companies. These tables basically show that several countries considered tax havens are among the top 10 in terms of offshore transactions with Canadian companies that have affiliates or related companies that don't deal at arm's length. The United States is in first place. This won't surprise anyone, since the United States is our closest neighbour. Canada's trade with the United States is substantial and often valid and proper.
Luxembourg, a European country, is in second place. What is Luxembourg's economy or GDP? How can we justify the fact that this country ranks second in terms of the number of transactions conducted by Canadian companies abroad? Is it because Luxembourg's economy is growing? Is it because many oil wells are drilled in the country and there's an extraordinary amount of economic activity?
View Pierre-Luc Dusseault Profile
NDP (QC)
The first on the list of the top 10 countries is Luxembourg, whose population is the size of the city of Gatineau, but whose reportable transactions amount to $236.7 billion. There's also Switzerland, whose reportable transactions amount to $198.4 billion, and Ireland, which some people also consider a tax haven and whose reportable transactions amount to $172.4 billion. In Barbados, the reportable transactions amount to $48.2 billion, and in Bermuda they amount to $29.7 billion. The offshore transactions of these five countries on the top 10 list amount to about $685 billion. For the most part, the economies of these countries don't necessarily justify such a large flow of transactions.
Can you give us an idea of the situation in these five countries and the influence of double taxation agreements?
I don't know whether you focused on this issue in your study. I want to know whether the size of the transactions between Canada and these countries can be linked to the fact that we have double taxation agreements. These agreements may encourage the offshoring of profits, which can then be repatriated to Canada at a lower tax rate.
View Pierre-Luc Dusseault Profile
NDP (QC)
Table 3-5 shows that Luxembourg, of all the countries in the world, has the highest revenues from non-residents. These revenues amount to $47.6 billion.
Can you tell us what “revenues from non-residents” means? Are these payments made by affiliates of a Canadian company? What transactions are normally involved? Are they intellectual property payments, interest or dividends, for example?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
First, I would like to express my condolences to Mr. Kmiec and Mr. Poilievre and to everyone who knew Mark Warawa well. I also want to express my condolences to his widow, Diane, and to his entire family. This is really a sad day.
I want to commend you, Mr. Giroux, because I think this is one of the most important reports you've ever produced.
Over the last four years, we haven't had a single charge from the Canada Revenue Agency on corporate tax avoidance. This is going to become a major issue, I believe, in the federal election campaign because of the fact there has simply not been any action taken against tax avoidance.
At the same time, Canadians are struggling for affordable housing, for medication and to get their kids through school. The answer they're always given is that they're going to have to wait because there are other priorities, but the reality is that there are astronomical sums that seem to be getting around a taxation system, with no action being taken by the federal government.
I want to start by asking you about this, just so I can understand the figures. They seem astronomical.
First, we're talking about nearly a trillion dollars—$996 billion—in reportable transactions with offshore financial centres. Then there are the electronic funds transfers, where we're looking at $1.6 trillion. How much overlap is there between the reportable transactions—that nearly trillion dollars—and the $1.6 trillion? How much of that is actually an overlap? What would be the comprehensive final figure combining those two?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
You don't have a precise figure to give us, and it is still likely to be in the trillions of dollars.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Those are astounding amounts.
Next, in your conclusion you say that if we assume that 10% of the trillion dollars in reportable transactions has avoided corporate income tax in Canada, it would represent an amount of $100 billion in taxable income that should have been taxed. Then you make an estimate of the billions of dollars that is part of this massive tax chasm that exists.
The assumption of 10% comes from where? Is it possible that the assumption is actually low and that, potentially, the percentage of those transactions avoiding corporate income taxes in Canada is much higher than 10%?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Could I have a final, quick question?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
What resources would you need to really get to the bottom of this?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
There were no charges.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Pierre-Luc Dusseault Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'll ask another question, which may increase the number of witnesses at the table.
I must first say that I'm very disappointed that the Minister of Finance isn't here today and that he doesn't deign to come to the committee to defend his department's main estimates. The Minister of National Revenue also wasn't here last week.
I want to ask about a widely discussed topic in British Columbia, namely, money laundering in casinos and in the real estate market. The British Columbia government has launched a public inquiry, which shows the significance of the issue in that province. Many people, including the government, are concerned about the issue.
In the main estimates, the Department of Finance is requesting $819,555 under vote 20 to strengthen the anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing regime. I want to know more about that amount and whether the Department of Finance's only solution is to spend $819,555.
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