Posted on Ipolitics.ca You can add your comments at that website. The title of the article is “Revenue Canada quietly handed 155,000 Canadian banking records to IRS”
[Note that the journalist began article with point that our Canadian Government sent private bank info south before receiving privacy assessment from Office of Privacy Commissioner. Journalist failed to find Liberal Government MP willing to chat but did hunt down Liberal Senator who complained about actions of the Tories.]
The journalist, Elizabeth Thompson, comments on her own article: “The language is not misleading. A number of people I interviewed told me of their efforts to get comments from the new Liberal government since the election – from the same Liberal MPs who commented on this issue before the election. I’m trying once again today for an interview with the Revenue Minister (who has a lot less to do with the budget than the finance minister does) and I will keep trying.”]
“The Canada Revenue Agency quietly turned 155,000 banking records over to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service during last fall’s election, without waiting for an assessment from Canada’s Privacy Commissioner or the outcome of a court challenge to the controversial move.
According to documents tabled in the House of Commons, roughly 150,000 of the Canadian bank records transferred to the IRS on Sept. 30, 2015 related to individuals who are U.S. residents or people with U.S citizenship living in Canada.
The transfer, the first of its kind, was the result of a deal worked out between Canada and the United States in the wake of the U.S. decision to adopt the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), pressuring financial institutions around the world to reveal information about bank accounts in a bid to crack down on tax evasion by U.S. taxpayers with foreign accounts.
The Conservatives have argued that given the penalties the U.S. was threatening to impose, they had no choice but to negotiate the information sharing deal and through the deal was able to exempt some types of accounts such as RRSPs and Tax Free Savings Accounts from the information transfer.
A second transfer of records to the IRS is scheduled for September 30, 2016.
As part of the deal, the IRS also agrees to send the CRA information on Canadians with U.S. accounts.
While the government says financial institutions should be open with clients about their files being sent to the IRS, the CRA is not automatically informing those whose records have been transferred, saying it is up to individuals to ask for the information.
The CRA says it submitted a privacy impact assessment to Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien’s office for review on Aug. 27, 2015 but only received recommendations from Therrien on Jan. 4, 2016 – well after the records had already been transferred.
Critics, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before he came to power, have raised concerns about the information sharing deal, saying the implications of the CRA reporting to a foreign government agency about Canadian citizens was “troublesome.”
“The Liberal Party of Canada believes that the Conservative government’s efforts to safeguard the personal privacy of Canadians have been inadequate,” Trudeau wrote in a letter dated June 25, 2015 to Lynne Swanson of the Alliance for the Defence of Canadian Sovereignty, which has been fighting to stop the CRA from turning the records over to the IRS.
“While the United States has the right to target tax evaders using offshore accounts, targeting hard working Canadians who pay taxes is unfair,” Trudeau added. “The Government of Canada has a responsibility to stand up for its citizens when foreign governments are encroaching on their rights. We believe that the deal reached between Canada and the U.S. is insufficient to protect affected Canadians.”
During the election campaign, Liberal Darrell Samson, who was elected MP for the Nova Scotia riding of Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook, pointed out that Liberals had criticized the information sharing in the House of Commons and questioned whether the move was even constitutional.
“We also have concerns that the agreement reached with the U.S. may not stand up to a Constitutional challenge given that it forces the banks to treat clients differently based on their national origin, something forbidden by Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” he wrote on his website.
Since taking office, however, Trudeau’s Liberal government appears to have been silent on the deal.
A spokeswoman for Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier said the minister was not available for an interview Tuesday.
Swanson, who has been a Canadian citizen since 1973, says she feels betrayed – first by the Conservatives and now by the Liberals.
“I’m furious. I feel totally betrayed,” she said, rattling off a list of prominent Liberals who spoke out against the deal before they formed the government.
Swanson questions whether Canadians would accept a similar deal to share private information with any country other than the U.S, saying it treats some Canadian citizens differently from others.
“FATCA requires Canadian banks and other financial institutions to report to the IRS private banking information, private financial information. In terms of bank accounts that includes account numbers, account balances, total assets, transactions, address and other personal identifying information.”
“If all Canadians were having that information submitted to the Canada Revenue Agency to pass on to a foreign government, there would be absolute outrage in this country.”
Swanson said her group’s constitutional challenge of the information sharing deal is currently before the courts. NDP Revenue Critic Pierre-Luc Dusseault, who placed the question on the order paper, is concerned that the CRA is not advising people whose records were shared with the IRS.
“What is worrying me is that CRA is not notifying people automatically whose information was transferred,” Dusseault explained. “So the CRA has some information on Canadian citizens who are happen to also have American citizenship and these people had their information transferred on September 30 without a lot of noise.”
Dusseault says the CRA should notify all of those whose records were transferred.
“Some people may not know that they are part of that transfer.”
Dusseault says he is also concerned by the CRA’s decision not to wait for the privacy commissioner’s ruling and to transfer the records during the election campaign – a time when under the caretaker convention public servants are supposed to abstain from anything but routine actions.
Dusseault said he plans to propose a parliamentary committee hold hearings into the CRA’s actions.
Senator Percy Downe, who sits as a Senate Liberal, says the CRA should have waited until after the election before transferring the records to the IRS.
“It’s quite surprising that they did not ask for an extension,” he said. “The extensions the IRS gave others they claimed did not apply to the CRA but I’m sure the IRS would have understood if the CRA had said, ‘We’re in the middle of an election, the election’s over in October, we’ll have a new minister in November.’ What’s a couple of months delay?”
Downe said he was also surprised the CRA transferred the records before getting an assessment from the privacy commissioner’s office, which he said made recommendations about limiting the collection of information, limiting the disclosure of information and the retention of personal information.
“This is after the horse had left the barn, if you will, because the information was already turned over in the rush to get it to them.”
My focus now is limited to providing the Arvay team with what they need to win the case in Federal Court.
Support from that “court of public opinion” might help — but right now I need more Canadians volunteering to be witnesses and provide an affidavit explaining in writing the harm that appears every single day on this website.
Canadians who will not or cannot volunteer as a Witness, please speak to those who might. I cannot create Witnesses.
Those who are considering volunteering as as Witness can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
My hope is that publicity–even bad publicity although good publicity is better–will help spread the word to potential witnesses. Maybe not though unless people also know you are seeking witnesses. Maybe when people comment on articles the need for witnesses should be at the forefront.
Just get out
.so simple after that..even if info sent ..irs will say ..not in system..
Know from personal experience..just renounce or .relinquish.
@Dash re: “My hope is that publicity–even bad publicity although good publicity is better–will help spread the word to potential witnesses. Maybe not though unless people also know you are seeking witnesses. Maybe when people comment on articles the need for witnesses should be at the forefront. ”
Good point first point, but not second point.
Yes, we need more publicity and that will lead to more support overall and maybe the perfect witnesses, but I don’t think it would be a good idea to advertise for witnesses in the comments. Mentioning ACDC, the lawsuit, IsaacBrock or MapleSandbox should be enough for someone to come here and figure that out for themselves.
The CRA should set up a website so someone can check online whether they’ve been reported and what’s been reported.
Why a bad idea to directly mention the need for witnesses? At worst it will be moderated out. Some will click through to ADCS etc and figure it out but some won’t. What is the harm in directly mentioning what is needed as opposed to hoping that people will indirectly find their way here?
“As part of the deal, the IRS also agrees to send the CRA information on Canadians with U.S. accounts.”
Excellent! Now, how will I be able to verify that the IRS will have sent the CRA information on my US accounts?
(Of course with RBT my Canadian tax will be nil, but I should still be able to verify.)
“Swanson questions whether Canadians would accept a similar deal to share private information with any country other than the U.S, saying it treats some Canadian citizens differently from others.”
No kidding. Big Brother is exceptional (except for Eritrea of course). George Orwell thought he was an accidental Brit born in India, but we’ve learned he was really an accidental Yank.
“The problem is that asking your bank the question identifies you as a USP.”
Actually it doesn’t. When I asked TD Canada Trust the question, I was a former USP. Whether or not the asking identified me as a USP, TD Canada Trust doesn’t seem to have noticed that I was a former USP until some time after I asked (i.e. when I completed their version of W-8BEN even though I didn’t have to).
‘For example the ex-spouse of someone collecting SS benefits may also be entitled to spousal benefits depending on the length of the marriage, regardless whether or not they ever worked in the USA.’
“I would think though that anyone receiving SS benefit deposits will be on the list for ‘curing US indicia’ prior to the 2016 transfer of information to the IRS.”
Good points, both of you. So a person who never had US citizenship, never had a green card, and never even entered the US, has to get a CLN or the bank will close their account! Someone get them on that witness stand immediately.
By the way, thanks to totalization by the US and Japan, I will probably become eligible for US social security payments that would not be usable in Japan (bank fees would exceed the amounts of the cheques) but my future widow would be able to use them in her country. I wonder how we’ll work that out. (Though we also have to work out how she’ll get spousal benefits from Japan, since we’ve verified that she will be eligible.)
“The CRA is allowing court proceedings in s foreign country influence the Canadian government?”
Yes. That’s why the only party on the next Canadian election ballot will be CPC. And that will be the Communist Party of China, not the Communist Party of Canada.
“For various reasons, it might not be possible for someone to jump through all the USG hoops”
Yes, the IRS’s Taxpayer Advocate wrote exactly that, when reporting to Congress in 2011 that thousands of honest taxpayers were forced to renounce US citizenship. That was even before FATCA.
Dash, just reread my comment to you which came off harsh…sorry, should have added an imo in there,as it was really just a personal opinion. I don’t know, just seemed a bit ‘too much info too soon’ to me to mention witnesses being required in the comments. I mean if someone is just figuring all this out now, their head would be spinning. But like you say, guess it couldn’t hurt.
Dash and WhiteKat,
Based on the limited number of witnesses volunteering through Brock and Sandbox, I worry that we will not be able to find the number and different types of witnesses through just these two sites that our litigators feel that they need.
Dash, I like your idea of people (who are comfortable doing this) including in some of their comments that we need witnesses, and if interested, to contact me. It is just a fact and I don’t see a downside to this. I think that a big part of the problem is that not that many Canadians know that we are seeking witnesses. The more advertising, the better.
If 1000 comments resulted in one-two witnesses providing affidavits, that would be a success.
@ Stephen:If 1000 comments resulted in one-two witnesses providing affidavits, that would be a success.
Indeed it would. I have no understanding why it was easier to find two plaintiffs ( considering the different risks) than it is now to find witnesses. However,I understand the fear of outing yourselves. It is such an individual choice.
Here’s the thing: we relied on donations to fund our law suit while many detractors said it would never be done. The money was raised notwithstanding from generous local and international donations without which we could not have reached our financial goals.
We are now at another crossroad. We need witnesses to demonstrate various kinds of harm. The fact that they must be Canadian witnesses may be slowing things down because we can no longer reach out to our colleagues living outside of Canada. This is because they would have no legal standing in our law suit, not because they wouldn’t or haven’t always supported us in the past.
So, my fellow Canadians, it is up to us at this point. We started this law suit here and we are the only ones now that can advance it. I think of it as another way to express our gratitude to our many donors from outside of Canada as well as the determination Canadians have always demonstrated. And your opportunity to tell the Canadian government your compelling story about the harm you are enduring due to their actions.
Even if you are not sure you could ultimately do this, please consider contacting Dr. Kish for some particulars. It’s a free chat.
And my offer always stands if you want to exchange private emails. Just ask a mod to make contact with me. I am happy to discuss your concerns about what being a witness entails. Stephen and I will always honour your privacy. Unlike your government.
Thanks–I’ve just posted my first comment asking for witnesses (at todays ipolitics.ca article by Elizabeth Thompson).
To yesterday’s Elizabeth Thompson post at iPolitics, I got this reply to one of my comments, http://ipolitics.ca/2016/03/16/revenue-canada-quietly-handed-155000-canadian-banking-records-to-irs/#comment-2575197659:
Yes, we are making progress thanks to Lynne Swanson’s interview with a real journalist, Elizabeth Thompson. Knowing that some have learned from our comments is encouraging (as well as heart-warming). I hope this new awareness continues. Inch by bloody inch!
Thanks everyone who has spoken up to tell some of our story which we think ALL Canadians should have been made more aware of by Canada’s mainstresam media — but, mostly up to this point, have not. My gratitude. (That thanks goes to Brocker, DebM, as well as I ponder who that might be.)