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Reflections on the tax havens phenomenon

Published on: May 20, 2016

Brief submitted to the Committee on Public Finance as part of the Self-initiated order – The tax havens phenomenon

Extract taken from Quebec CPA Order publication:

The Quebec CPA Order is pleased to contribute to the work of the Committee on Public Finance on the use of tax havens. In keeping with the growing commitment on the part of many countries, in particular those under the aegis of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), to counter sophisticated strategies aimed at tax optimization by multinationals, Quebec lawmakers are focusing on this phenomenon. As a professional order, we feel it is our responsibility to make a positive contribution to this debate, which has become even more necessary and legitimate in a context where the public is increasingly calling for changes and multinationals are seeking to safeguard their reputations.

To begin, and as we will see further on, this issue cannot be addressed without keeping in mind that all countries are both instigators and victims to varying degrees of a system that they cannot change on their own. Thus, competition among countries to attract investments, protect jobs and support the competitiveness of businesses contributes to a climate that leads to abuse by some countries as well as multinationals. We cannot therefore resort to blanket demonization and engage in a reckless witch hunt to find “the guilty parties.” That would be too simple, if not simplistic, and would not be conducive to finding solutions. Should this issue be judged from a legal or a moral standpoint? The question is up for debate and, in the pages that follow, we will attempt to shed light on certain aspects of the issue in order to present the situation as fair as possible.

Recognizing that this is a worldwide challenge, we have little choice but to present our thoughts from a global perspective that takes into account all aspects of the use of tax havens, with insight and openness. It is in this spirit that we are participating in this public debate and we will make a few concrete recommendations on how to maintain Quebec’s tax base and optimize the efficiency of the corporate income tax system.


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