Scores of repentant investors have revealed their hidden offshore assets in an overwhelming response to Canada Revenue Agency’s voluntary disclosure program. Almost 6,000 Canadian taxpayers came forward over the past 12 months, up from just 1,200 in 2006.
UBS clients have been the most forthcoming with approximately 800 customers reporting hidden assets which CRA spokesperson Phillippe Brideau confirmed were worth a combined total of over $200 million.
The surge in self-confession comes as Canada increases efforts to crack-down on tax evaders, following in the footsteps of U.S regulators. America’s move to combat tax cheats saw Credit Suisse issued with eye-watering penalties of $2.6 billion in May of this year, after they pleaded guilty to helping Americans dodge tax.
One part of Canada’s bolstered efforts is the newly established Offshore Tax Informant Program, affectionately dubbed the ‘Whistle-blower hotline’. The CRA set up the phone line earlier this year, offering informants up to 15% of federal tax collected from tip offs.
Canada’s tax office received $30 million last year to fund improved reporting on electronic fund transfers and formed a 70-person team to focus on the analysis, data and auditing of offshore accounts.
However, while the numbers are encouraging, Canada’s auditor-general expressed concerns that the agency are not quite prepared for their new line of work and said there was still a long way to go before tax-evasion is a thing of the past.