Billionaires in the US make out like bandits in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, but what about the super-rich people in Canada?
Thanks to a new report released today by TaxCOOP, a Quebec-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting international tax cooperation, we now have several answers.
The five richest billionaires in Canada – David Thomson, Joseph Tsai, Galen Weston, David Cheriton, and Mark Scheinberg – experienced a 9 percent increase in wealth between March 16 and May 16, 2020, an increase of $ 5.5 billion. In this same period, cash donations to fight COVID-19 from these five billionaires represented 0.09 percent of their wealth.
That means Canada’s richest billionaires have contributed about 1 percent of the money they made during this pandemic.
TaxCOOP also sees donations from Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, bringing together companies, their billionaire founders and their private charities. They found cash contributions from these groups between March 16 and May 16 representing 0.09 percent of their wealth, while their wealth increased in this period by more than 7.7 percent.
“These findings support the need for immediate action to combat income inequality,” concluded TaxCOOP in its release, including “international tax reform.”
Similar ones report super-rich status in the United States was released Thursday by two think tanks, based on data from the Forbes billionaire list.
It was found that the wealth of more than 600 billionaires in the United States rose 15 percent in the two months since the pandemic struck North America, from March 18 to May 19. Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, has seen a 30 percent increase in his wealth, while Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook wealth has grown by almost 50 percent.
This news follows in the footsteps of a the election released Friday by Abacus Data, which found 75 percent of Canadians, including 69 percent of Conservative voters, wanted the country to impose a wealth tax.
The same poll found that more than two-thirds of Canadians want the government to spend what is needed to support the community through this crisis, while four out of five Canadians think companies that receive government assistance should not be allowed to use foreign taxation to hide their profits from Canadian taxes. or use government funds for excessive salaries, share buybacks, or increased dividends.
While the Trudeau government has been praised for implementing income support programs such as the CERB, and pressure from the NDP opposition has succeeded in pushing the government to include more Canadians in these programs than previously planned, Liberals have a huge blind spot when come to burden their friends on Bay Street.
On the same day when the polls showed three-quarters of Canadians want a wealth tax, Treasury Secretary Bill Morneau ruled it out, not promising a new tax.
Morneau, incidentally, is a very rich man married to a richer heir. His personal wealth estimated at more than $ 50 million.
Under pressure to ban tax-free companies from federal support, Trudeau showed how adept his team could play the media.
With much fanfare, he announced that he had banned the company ever punished tax evasion from federal support.
But the number of companies large enough to qualify for federal support that has been convicted of tax evasion and will be issued by this provision is zero. This measure is meaningless, but it convinces many Canadians that action is being taken.
Trudeau has repeatedly refused to ban large numbers of tax-registered companies from federal support.
Federal enforcement for tax evasion is directed almost entirely at what NDP Parliament Member Peter Julian, who first revealed this opinion in a Finance Committee hearing, called “minnows” in an interview with Ricochet this weekend. This includes individuals, private ownership, and small companies.
The Panama Papers and other leaks have provided a road map for any government that wants to sue large tax evaders, but Canada does not want to take action against “big fish” who illegally hide their income from taxation.
Add it a 2019 report from parliamentary budget officers who find tax evasion costs Canada at least $ 25 billion a year, and you would think this would be a top priority for the Trudeau government.
Instead, Trudeau played around in the hope of tricking Canadians into believing that he had banned companies listed in tax havens from support, when in fact he refused to do so.
Canadians want a wealth tax, and they want tax-free companies banned from government support. But our government refuses to implement these simple steps to ensure that everyone pays his tax share fairly.
On the contrary, their main concern seems to have been to convince the Conservatives that they would pursue any Canadian who applied for CERB by mistake. We have endless resources to investigate and prosecute small fish that make mistakes or despair, but big fish? They can do whatever they want.
I wonder why.
In the absence of anything, a 2 percent wealth tax on wealth of more than $ 10 million will make our finance minister almost one million dollars a year. That will make his wife much more expensive. Perhaps most importantly, it will cost a lot of money for Trudeau’s friends on Bay Street.
Oh, and the leak? One of them showed Morneau a director in a subsidiary registered in the Bahamas at his company, Morneau Shepell, in 2014. He didn’t do anything illegal, because our law is lousy, but I think it’s fair to say he’s experienced in the ins and outs of legal tax avoidance.
Despite pressure from other countries, the Trudeau government has tried hard to update our laws to crack down on these practices.
If we are going to fund the recovery we need, it starts with a wealth tax and a tax avoidance crackdown. That is the least our government can do.
But they did not do it.
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