Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The Star makes the case for a new crackdown on Canadian tax cheats to not only merely recover money withheld, but also to name and shame the people who have thus far refused to pay their fair share:
(I)f the Trudeau government is genuinely serious about clamping down, it should be prepared to name and shame miscreants with a lot more zeal than it has yet demonstrated. There’s nothing like shining the antiseptic light of day into murky corners, to discourage banks, law firms, accountancy firms and the like from enabling schemes that play fast and loose with the public treasury.

Yet while agencies such as the CRA and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) are happy to name the small fish they catch breaking the laws and regulations, that hasn’t always been the case with bigger fish.

Just last week FINTRAC, which tracks money laundering and terrorist financing among other things, announced it had levied a stiff $1.1-million penalty on a Canadian bank for failing to report a suspicious transaction and various money transfers. But it declined to name the institution involved. Meanwhile it is busy naming players who have been slapped with fines of $15,000 or less.

And CRA has drawn criticism for quietly offering an amnesty deal to unnamed multi-millionaire clients of the KPMG accounting firm who were allegedly involved in tax avoidance on the Isle of Man. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported that the group was required by CRA only to pay back the taxes they owed, plus interest. Yet the CRA routinely prosecutes and names people who fail to file tax returns or otherwise run afoul of the law.

If the government hopes to “give Canadians greater confidence that the tax system is fair to everyone,” its agencies should be prepared to publicly name offenders. Cutting deals to spare Ottawa the trouble of prosecuting, or to preserve the “good name” of financial institutions and their wealthy clients, isn’t going to reassure anyone other than the scofflaws themselves.

Ottawa shouldn’t be in the business of shielding those who have gone to extraordinary lengths to insulate themselves and their assets from public scrutiny.
- CBC reports on research showing the historical role of human sacrifice as a means of social control. And while the deaths may no longer be public or deliberate, Jim Zarroli and Kevin Drum both discuss how inequality of income and wealth are still easily traced in the U.S.' survival rates.

- Steven Greenhouse looks into the movement toward a $15 minimum wage in the U.S. And Laura Bliss comments on the need to pay more attention to the workers who help to maintain the society we have, rather than focusing almost solely on disruption and innovation in evaluating individual merit.

- Finally, CBC examines ACORN's work to make affordable Internet access available to everybody - with a particular focus on tenants in non-profit housing.

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