Monday, April 9, 2018


     Since 2012, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) has been trying to fulfil my request to measure the tax gap, the difference between what is owed in taxes and what has actually been collected, but has been stonewalled by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and its refusal to release the required statistical data. Therefore, the announcement that the CRA has finally provided that information is welcome, if belated, news. It is disappointing, however, that it took so long and only happened because the PBO threatened to take CRA to court.
     The PBO now has what he needs to conduct his study, however for years, the CRA ignored that obligation. The Parliament of Canada Act, the legislation establishing the Parliamentary Budget Office, clearly states that the PBO is entitled to “free and timely access to any financial or economic data in the possession of the department that are required for the performance of his or her mandate”.
      That said, why should the PBO produce an estimate of the tax gap at all, when the CRA has committed to conducting its own study, and has released three reports on the subject since 2016? The reason an independent analysis is required, separate and apart from any report prepared by the CRA, is quite simple: the Agency has been repeatedly caught trying to mislead Canadians. The result is the lack of credibility facing any sort of CRA-produced tax gap report. Regrettably, Canadians can no longer trust their revenue agency.
Below are just a few examples over the last years, from a very long list, of the CRA misleading Canadians:

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