Last updated: June 17 2013
Leaders of the G-8 countries, including Canada’s Stephen Harper, met in Ireland on Monday June 17th to discuss, among other things, “tax havens”.
A large focus of Budget 2013 was international tax non-compliance, but Prime Minister Harper realizes that an international problem necessitates an international remedy.
“It is important that we do it and that we do it together because when we’re dealing with tax evasion, we’re dealing with problems that cross borders. Even the most powerful governments in the world can’t deal with these things by themselves so I look forward to being part of the declaration and to making progress on this as we leave the summit,” Prime Minister Harper stated.
One interesting aspect of international tax reform proposed by British Prime Minister David Cameron is an initiative aimed at tackling hidden company ownership. Cameron announced that Britain would be creating an ownership registry in conjunction with its offshore territories and crown dependents such as Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Jersey, and Guernsey. The amount of information to be retained by the registry is unclear at this point. Whether all or some of the information will be available to the public is another question mark at this juncture, although Cameron stated that he “would hope the whole world will move towards public registers of beneficial ownership.”
In fact the pressure is now on other countries to follow suit. Rosie Sharpe, a campaigner at Global Witness in the U.K. stated that studies have shown that Canada might be one of the easiest countries in the world to set up an anonymous shell company at this time. It is unknown at this time what plans, if any, Canada has to make company ownership more transparent.
Harper is also focused on securing a free trade agreement with Ireland and the European Union during his visit.