Harper Government joins forces with Canada's business community to fight the underground economy

Minister Findlay strikes first-ever Advisory Committee on the Underground Economy

November 17, 2014 - Toronto, Ontario - Canada Revenue Agency

The Honourable Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of National Revenue, today hosted the inaugural meeting of the new Underground Economy Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee, comprised of representatives from key industry stakeholder organizations representing a broad cross-section of the Canadian business community and tax professions, is the first of its kind. The Advisory Committee will provide the Minister and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) with unprecedented direct access to industry perspectives and input to help inform the Government of Canada’s strategy for tackling the underground economy.

Combatting the underground economy is complex and requires a collaborative approach. The Government of Canada is taking a leadership role in bringing industry leaders and other partners together for the first time to tackle this important issue. The new Advisory Committee will strengthen the CRA’s working relationship with industry representatives, experts, and professional organizations and will complement the Agency’s engagement with other federal departments and provincial and territorial governments.

Industry stakeholders are uniquely positioned to understand and communicate to the public about the harm caused by the underground economy. They also provide a powerful and effective voice for the business community to help shape and focus government actions. The Minister’s Advisory Committee on the Underground Economy is a ground-breaking initiative that will provide a forum for these stakeholders to collaborate with the Government.

Collaborating with industry is one of the Government’s priorities to reduce the social acceptability of, and participation in, the underground economy. The CRA’s actions to fight the underground economy help reinforce the fairness and integrity of Canada’s tax system and aim to ensure a level playing field for all businesses and taxpayers.

Quick facts

  • In 2011, Statistics Canada estimated the value of the underground economy activity in Canada at 2.3% of the GDP.
  • The Advisory Committee will meet approximately twice a year and will include representatives from the following organizations:
    • Restaurants Canada
    • Canadian Home Builders' Association
    • Canadian Federation of Independent Business
    • Canadian Payroll Association
    • Canadian Chamber of Commerce
    • Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada
    • Retail Council of Canada
    • Merit Contractors Association
    • Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, will also be a member of the Advisory Committee.
  • Our Government has already taken action to combat the UE. Economic Action Plan 2013 established significant new monetary penalties and criminal offences under the Excise Tax Act and the Income Tax Act to combat the illegal use of Electronic Suppression of Sales software by some businesses to hide their sales and evade the payment of sales and income tax.
  • The CRA has introduced specialized point of sales audit teams across Canada. These teams of electronic commerce audit specialists and auditors are focused on identifying the use and sale of ESS software and applying the new sanctions when warranted.

Quotes

“While Canada’s tax system enjoys compliance rates that are among the best in the world, the illegal underground economy provides an unfair advantage to those few who break Canada’s laws. This ground-breaking initiative takes collaboration to a whole new level and, most importantly, provides a stronger voice to the very businesses that are most affected by this illegal activity.”

The Honourable Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of National Revenue

“Collaboration between governments, businesses, tax professionals, and other stakeholders is vital to the success of our efforts to tackle the underground economy. Our Government is taking a leadership role by providing a forum for unprecedented collaboration with industry, academic, and other levels of government. I look forward to highly productive discussions and outcomes.”

The Honourable Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of National Revenue

“The underground economy in home renovations exposes homeowners to significant risks they often don't understand and that can threaten their financial security. Furthermore, legitimate businesses suffer when they are forced to compete with those who cut corners, and don’t pay their fair share of taxes. We are very pleased to be working with the Canada Revenue Agency to combat the very real harm and risks posed by the underground economy.”

Kevin Lee, CEO of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association

“Restaurants Canada wants customers to feel confident that the taxes they pay on hospitality services are being properly remitted to the government. Tax evasion not only results in unfair competition for law-abiding restaurant owners, it deprives us all through reduced government spending on critical services. This is why Restaurants Canada actively engages with the CRA to combat the underground economy. The UE is bad for business and bad for the communities where it is active.”

Joyce Reynolds, Restaurants Canada”

Associated Links