While it’s hard to pin down how much is lost to offshore dealings every year, tax maneuvers — from illegal tax evasion to the grey area of offshore accounts — rob Canadian tax coffers of an estimated $7.8 billion a year, according to the Canadians for Tax Fairness.
“It does result in a loss of tax revenue for Canada, and for provincial government as well,” said Dennis Howlett, the group’s executive director.
“It may not all be illegal, but most of it is certainly very questionable.”
The feds pulled in $39.4 billion in corporate tax in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, and $135.7 billion in personal income tax; all revenues combined the feds had $282.3 billion to work with.
Considering the Liberal government projects running in the red for at least the next four years, there’s no doubt that lost revenue could go a long way.
“The government has made a lot of promises they won’t be able to keep unless they find new revenue,” said Howlett.
“Going after tax havens is one good way without having to raise taxes on everybody.”
Here’s a look at what $7.8 billion could do for Canada.
National childcare strategy
Finding affordable childcare is pretty much impossible for many Canadian families. Costs for a toddler range, on average, from $451 per month in Winnipeg to more than $1,300 in Ottawa. Quebec has subsidized daycare and parents pay between $7.55 and $20.70 per day.
During the 2015 federal election campaign, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair pledged to create one million childcare spaces that would cost maximum $15 a day, from coast to coast. The plan would have taken years to implement, and big bucks. It was projected to take a full, four-year term to create about a third (370,000) of the spaces, at a cost of $1.86 billion.
Mulcair said it would cost $5 billion to create enough affordable childcare spaces for all Canadians.
While many Canadians work hard to achieve the white-picket fence dream, many more simply want a roof over their heads. More than 200,00 Canadians struggle with homelessness.
Anti-poverty advocates previously asked the government for $3.2 billion to renovate old units and build 100,000 housing units to help Canada’s homeless.
In the 2016 federal budget Ottawa set aside $2.3 billion over two years for affordable housing, leaving more work to be done.
While commonly referred to as “free” healthcare, we all know too well (just look at your paycheque) it’s not free at all.
Canada is unique among countries with universal healthcare as it does not include a national pharmacare program.
Out-of-pocket healthcare expenses such as prescription drugs can be a major barrier for some. It’s estimated universal drug coverage would cost Canada about $1 billion a year, according to a study published in the the CMAJ medical journal.