Offshore tax havens are harmful to all Canadians

TheStar.com – Opinion/Readers’ Letters – Re: Liberal Party fundraisers held family millions in offshore trust, Nov. 6
Nov. 11, 2017.   Jeremy Withers / Norma Martinez / Harry Coupland / Anis Zuberi / Benjamin Rawlings

Liberal Party fundraisers held family millions in offshore trust, Nov. 6

Coverage of the Paradise Papers’ celebrity tax evaders has tended to revolve around the potential illegality of their actions. For example: how “blind” the offshore trusts of Stephen Bronfman and Leo Kolber actually are. I imagine most Canadians could care less whether Bronfman’s $60-million, tax-free snowball is being managed from home or from offshore. The real issue is, why is it legal in the first place?

The answer, which these leaks are revealing, is that our federal leaders are so beholden to Canada’s richest men — their chief fundraisers — that substantive crackdowns on these schemes are being prorogued.

These tax evasions are a spit in the eye to the Liberals’ fabled “middle class,” let alone to the 12 million Canadians who collectively own less than our richest 100 families.

Jeremy Withers, PhD student, University of Toronto

Thank you again for enlightening us on the machinations of the 1 per cent to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. An outstanding editorial. Surely, I am not the only one thinking of voting for the NDP in the next federal election.

Norma Martinez, Toronto

One of the main reasons for U.S. President Donald Trump’s victory was the snail-pace change to the status quo. People are fed up with the failure of governments to act. Whether the Paradise Papers news is based on legal or illegal actions of wealthy people or organizations is irrelevant. We must find ways to finance the needs of the populace and it is evident that this must come from those who have. Unless the current government acts decisively to outlaw these types of actions, Canadians, too, will either not vote or seek alternative populist methods. Justin Trudeau, be warned.

Harry Coupland, Etobicoke

This four-page article about offshore tax havens proves the point of American billionaire hotelier Leona Helmsley, who famously said: “We don’t pay taxes; only the little people pay taxes.”

It seems that democracy is on sale. The rich families finance politicians to fight elections and, as a quid pro quo, politicians protect their wealth through favourable legislation.

The article shows how Leo Kolber, a wealthy man who had accounts in offshore money centres, was appointed senator and then became chairman of the Senate’s powerful banking committee. He held back proposed unfavourable legislation on offshore trusts for 14 years.

These multimillionaires are not paying their share of taxes, forcing government to cut back on social services, health care, education, affordable housing, etc. It is estimated that the Canadian government is losing $6 to $8 billion per year in tax revenue.

Is it too difficult to force countries like Panama and British protectorates like Grand Cayman, Isle of Man and the British Virgin Islands to stop hiding money for wealthy Canadians.

Anis Zuberi, Mississauga

It is in the public’s interest to take tax avoidance seriously because we now know this is not a one-shot deal carried out by the odd, cunning billionaire, but rather a widespread scheme common among the wealthy.

We can no longer consider tax dodging and offshore accounts to be trivial, when everyone from the Queen to U.S. President Donald Trump’s cabinet are benefitting from them.

It is especially important for lower- and median-income households to care about this epidemic because it is they who suffer from the increased taxation and lack of public funding caused by the millions lost in tax revenue from offshore holdings.

It is the vulnerable and the poor who get the short end after this game is played out and it is time they force this issue into the public sphere and demand it be made a talking point.

Benjamin Rawlings, Ottawa

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2017/11/11/your-letters-offshore-tax-havens-are-harmful-to-all-canadians.html

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