Canadians Need to Know Snow-washing

Us Canadians need to live up to the stereotype that we are a nice, peaceful, and safe country. Clearly the so-called trucker protest tarnished our reputation, but in financial circles our reputation is tarnished thanks to our neglect of corporate accountability. Internationally Canada is seen as a great place to launder illegal obtained funds akin to third world tax havens. Laundering money in Canada is known as snow-washing.

Thanks to excellent research to Transparency International Canada (and more organizations) we finally know the extent of snow-washing. In order to address the problem we must first understand it. So let’s hope Canadian politicians step up to fight this corporate corruption in our government.

Although Canada has vowed to establish a publicly accessible corporate beneficial ownership registry, a database that will store details about who ultimately owns and controls millions of private companies, it won’t be operational until at least 2025.

“Open data allows journalists, civil society and other stakeholders to investigate wrongdoing,” the report says. “This is particularly important for Canada, where law enforcement and regulatory authorities have limited capacity to investigate domestic crime, let alone criminal activity beyond our borders.”

As an example, one of the report’s case studies about a Russian transnational laundromat builds on previous reporting by investigative journalists, including The Globe’s Mark MacKinnon.

For far too long, Canada has been saddled with a reputation as an international haven for financial crime. As the report rightly argues, transparency is the only antidote.

Read more.

Read the snow-washing report.

Thanks to Delaney!

Taxing Sugar Drinks Works if the Tax is Known

beer

Soda taxes get proposed often, and they have varying levels of success depending on how they are implemented. A new study reveals that when people are made aware that the sugar tax impacts the price of products they stop buying the unhealthy product. If you educate people then they act on that knowledge. One way to remind people about the health impact of consumer food products is on their bill.

But the share of sugary drinks purchased did decline slightly (45%) when the tags mentioned the price included the added tax.

Results showed that most consumers who chose to avoid sugary drinks with the added tax chose a drink that was not subject to the tax.

“Consumers are averse to taxes, so when they learn that their favorite drink has this sugary beverage tax, some are less interested in buying it,” Donnelly said.

Read more.

Pandora Papers Resonate in Canada

The Pandora Papers were released just last week and they are already having in impact in Canada. The non-profit Canadians for Tax Fairness is pushing the recently elected politicians to get on closing loopholes and exploits that only the rich get to use. All parties support tax reform to address the growing wealth divide in the country, and with the Pandora leak the need for tax reform is clear. Two Canadian celebrity athletes were exposed in the financial papers leak, which has hurt their reputations.

Support for tax fairness in Canada appears overwhelming. Eighty-nine per cent of Canadians want to see a wealth tax of one per cent paid by the richest Canadians as part of the country’s pandemic recovery, according to a recent Abacus Data pollbased on the NDP’s 2021 platform, and 92 per cent support closing tax loopholes and making it harder for corporations to strategically book profits in tax havens.

“There seems to be universal acknowledgment across the parties that economic inequality is a problem, and it’s a problem that requires government action,” said Cochrane.

In a blog post for C4TF, Cochrane outlined policies the major parties could work together on, based on similarities between party platforms, and identified an excess profits tax as one possibility.

Read more.

G7 Nations Agree on Minimum Corporate Tax

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Corporations love keeping their shareholders money instead of contributing to society, and it’s the role of governments to ensure that corporations do their part. Usually this comes in the form of taxation. Multinational corporations create multiple subsidiaries to obfuscate and obstruct the ability of governments to collect tax, it’s the corporate equivalent of dining and dashing.

A recent G7 meeting revealed that the largest economies in the world are going to enact a global minimum taxation rate for corporations. Having an agreed-upon minimum will remove the incentive to corporations to create subsidiaries to avoid taxation, while increasing the wealth of nations.

The rules on making multinationals pay taxes where they operate – known as “pillar one” of the agreement – would apply to global companies with at least a 10% profit margin. 

Twenty percent of any profit above that would be reallocated and taxed in the countries where they operate, according to the G7 communiqué. 

In the case of the UK, for example, more tax revenue would be raised from large multinationals and would help pay for public services.

The second “pillar” of the agreement commits states to a global minimum corporate tax rate of 15% to avoid countries undercutting each other.

Read more.

Evidence is in: Green Policies Improve Economic Performance

tree with climate knowledge

Short-term thinkers who put quarterly profits above all else consistently argue that caring for the environment destroys business. They are wrong. The evidence keeps growing that planet (and people) friendly policies encourage economic growth while also forcing companies to increase their efficiency. It’s a win-win for businesses and the planet.

An Italian team of economists have concluded that by taxing companies, and individual behaviours, that damage the environment create great success for the planet and profits.

Green taxes, or taxes levied on businesses and individuals in order to promote environmentally friendly practices, had the largest impact on multifactor productivity, though De Santis and her colleagues wrote that green taxes need to be paired with complementary redistributive policies, such subsidies and grants for companies transitioning to environmentally friendly practices, in order to avoid damaging productivity.

“What is clear is that you have to face this increasing environmental policy stringency, and as a firm, probably the best is if you try to create this win-win solution so it’s passed through an improvement in technology,” De Santis said.

Read more.

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