Minister's Underground Economy Advisory Committee meeting - June 6, 2016 - Record of Discussion
1. Introductory comments
The Minister of National Revenue welcomed participants and emphasized how important collaborating with Advisory Committee members is to combatting the underground economy (UE). Opening remarks were also provided by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue and the Commissioner of Revenue and Chief Executive Officer of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
2. Tactical Plan presentation
The CRA gave an overview of its UE Tactical Plan and demonstrated how it incorporated the feedback from the last two Advisory Committee meetings into the plan. During this presentation, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association updated the committee about the Get it in Writing! campaign. Advisory Committee members supported the efforts and progress made. Members also offered the following suggestions:
• Simplify compliance (help taxpayers to comply and become financially literate), including recommendations to the Department of Finance Canada for simplifying the tax burden
• Help Canadians understand (and quantify) the consequences of participating in the UE
• Be proactive about clarifying misconceptions about compliance in the media
• Address current compliance concerns, such as real estate and offshore non-compliance.
• Make it easier for the public to provide leads
• Apply the filing and balance confirmation letter approach to international compliance
• Conduct analysis of compliance concerns related to business-to-business reporting that would be captured on a T4A slip
• Pursue work with other organizations, such as the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC)
3. Opportunities for leveraging communications
The CRA presented its marketing communications strategy (based on social listening and public opinion research), which supports theme 2 of the UE Strategy–reducing the social acceptability of participating in the UE. As part of the strategy, the CRA will launch a targeted social media campaign, supported by partnerships with Advisory Committee members (plus provinces, territories, and other government departments and ministries) to extend the reach of activities. The CRA’s new UE webpages will be posted soon and will include a toolkit of shareable communications products that partners can use. Advisory Committee members supported this approach. They suggested:
• developing messaging for businesses in addition to the messaging for consumers on the demand side
• Working on some “pride/reputation” themed messaging for business owners who play by the rules–this could be explored for new materials that will be put in the toolbox
4. Discussion – Advisory Committee activities
The CRA led a discussion on the future activities of the Advisory Committee and how it can work bilaterally with Advisory Committee members to leverage communication messages and opportunities.
• The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue, who will now be chairing the Advisory Committee, suggested that the Advisory Committee consider giving feedback to the Department of Finance Canada on possible legislative proposals to combat the UE
• The CRA will continue to target compliance procedures for high-risk areas, including online sales and the digital economy, real estate, tourism, and construction or renovation work done for cash. The Advisory Committee will look into including an association from the tourism industry for the next meeting
• The Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada propose publishing an issue of CPA magazine in November 2016 with a large focus on the UE and is looking to work with the CRA and other Advisory Committee members on content
5. Closing remarks
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue reiterated his gratitude to Advisory Committee members for their continued dedication and expressed his strong desire to continue the excellent work accomplished to date.
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