Monday, November 27, 2017

Wanna Catch Tax Cheats? You Can Do Better. Let Me Help.

A story in the CBC has the Canadian Revenue Agency in hot pursuit of tax cheats focusing on Canada's richest neighbourhoods.

"Comparing someone's lifestyle — cars, boats, houses — to their reported income helps us identify people who are non-compliant," said CRA spokesperson Zoltan Csepregi.'

Hey, Zoltan. I know where you'll find some rich pickings. Go to my old neighbourhood, the Arbutus area of Vancouver, once home to vast swathes of neat-as-a-pin, 40s vintage, two-bedroom bungalows each with a single-car detached garage. 

Those houses are all gone, replaced by lot line to lot line McMansions where a bare lot now starts at 2.2 million and more. Properties there can  fetch up to four mill but here's the best part. The average household income in that neighbourhood comes in at a minuscule $32-thou. Now how many of your relatives can buy a four million dollar house on a 32 thousand a year gross income? How many of those low wage earners can buy that house and just let it sit there empty?

You go to that neighbourhood, Zoltan, and you're going to be a busy boy. Odd you didn't think of that years ago.


Trailblazer said...

Time to catch these fuckers too!

Isn't life wonderful.
The hypocrite amongst us; wait; that could be me??


Anonymous said...

Sending the CRA to look at houses may not raise as much as you'd think, since our tax laws are poorly designed for collecting from the rich. In fact, many of the people in the neighbourhoods you describe pay virtually no tax quite legally. Simon Frazer Prof Josh Gordon explains how:

Suppose you wanted buy an expensive house in a premium neighbourhood, such as Point Grey. If the house cost around $2 million, which is at the low end, then your household income would need to be around $300,000 at current interest rates with a 20 per cent down payment. Your household would pay $90,000 to $110,000 in income taxes each year.

On top of that, you would pay property taxes of around $6,000. And then you would pay various sales taxes and government fees or premiums. Not exactly chump change, but you’d be wealthy, so you could manage....

Now imagine you could get the same thing, but not pay income taxes. You would pay roughly $6,000 in property taxes and you would pay sales taxes like everyone else, but otherwise little or nothing.

In effect, your household would be getting a tax subsidy of about $100,000. Every year. And if your property was worth more, then the subsidy would be even greater.

Pretty sweet deal, right? Well, if you’re using money accumulated or earned abroad, where low income taxes prevail or can be dodged, while you or your family live in Vancouver, then that’s the deal you get.

Part of the problem is that so-called investor class immigrants are getting a really sweet deal on the backs of everyone else. Fortunately, the solution is pretty simple:

Wealthy investor immigrants paid an average annual income tax of $1,400, according to a 2014 government of Canada report. And governments continue to allow this to happen, because they have so far refused to implement a straightforward fix to our flawed tax framework: Introduce a large annual property surtax that can be offset by income taxes paid, with concessions given to older folks who don’t work anymore and those who have paid a lot of income tax in the past.

I can understand why the Clark government wasn't interested in taxing these people. It's less clear why Horgan isn't all over this.


Anne Peterson said...

Idea read in the Guardian which must be pursued somehow: the founding of a world legal regime, an international criminal court that relentlessly prosecutes tax evasion as a crime against humanity, which it is since the world financial system if responsible for starving sweatshop workers and refugees of all kinds. It would take too much time to list all the crimes of the rich.

Northern PoV said...

The legal regime is just part of it. As Picketty suggests we need a global tax system - no tax havens etc - so the corporations and the rich can't hide their capital. The court is the enforcement mechanism for such a system.

Karl said...

CRA is too busy with this kind of stuff :