Getting tough on tax evasion


Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is getting ready to table the federal government's so-called 'austerity budget.' But some observers say Canada would be in better financial shape -- and could potentially recover billions in lost revenue -- if the government simply put more muscle into catching tax cheats.

When Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tables the federal budget Thursday, he'll confront the problem of an economy growing more slowly than expected. 

He's expected to close some loopholes and make spending cuts in an effort to wipe out the $26-billion-dollar deficit by 2015. But critics believe the Finance Minister is ignoring a virtual pot of gold -- the fortune in tax that's never been paid. They say tax evaders rob Canada of billions of dollars of lost revenue a year.

Dennis Howlett - Executive Director, Canadians for Tax Fairness

We spoke with Dennis Howlett, executive director of the group Canadians for Tax Fairness. He believes Canada needs hard numbers to arrive at a better understanding of just how much revenue we're losing to tax evaders. In other words, a tax gap estimate.

Murray Rankin - NDP Revenue Critic  

Some Opposition MPs are also anxious for the government to chase down tax cheats and recoup lost revenue.  Murray Rankin is the NDP Member of Parliament for Victoria, British Columbia. We reached him in Ottawa.

The Current asked both the Canada Revenue Agency and Minister of National Revenue Gail Shea for an interview. No one was available to speak with us today. However, Minister Shea's spokesperson Alex Seguin did email a statement to us. Here's an excerpt:

"CRA aggressively pursues all information it receives, and we take this issue very seriously. That is why our Government has increased the number of CRA experts on the file by roughly 40% from the last year of the Liberal Government."

This segment was produced by The Current's Idella Sturino and Sarah Buck.

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Other segments on today's show:

What does 'robot reporting' mean for journalism?
Documentary: Monkeys of Bioko Island
Ex-Khmer Rouge leader dies as trial continues

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