Offshore Compliance Advisory Committee – Terms of reference
The mandate of the Offshore Compliance Advisory Committee is to provide advice, input and recommendations to the Minister of National Revenue (the Minister) and to the Canada Revenue Agency (the CRA) on the CRA's administration, policies, procedures and priorities for offshore compliance.
The scope includes both businesses and high net worth individuals, and their advisors. It does not include recommendations for specific legislative proposals; however, it may include broadly framed recommendations on relevant areas of legislation to be considered by the CRA for review and perspectives on potential implications of legislative changes.
Subjects for consideration
The initial subjects identified for consideration were:
- Strategies to help alleviate and discourage offshore non-compliance;
- Audit agreement policies;
- Fairness in the application of penalties ;
- Consistency in the administration of the Voluntary Disclosure Program;
- Priorities and effective practices of the Criminal Investigation Program to ensure fairness for all taxpayers; and
- Communication products to promote voluntary compliance and clearly explain CRA policies.
Additional subjects for consideration include:
- CRA's handling of the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers leaks - an opportunity for independent assessment of the CRA's response and results vis à vis results being reported in other jurisdictions
- Project work underway to identify high risk non-compliant taxpayers in the high-net worth population - presentations on postal code projects and JITSIC projects to the extent permissible under the JITSIC rules
- Limits of s. 241 and transparency - exploring opportunities on navigating the line between privacy and public interest
- Power of inquiry and potential use - how the CRA has used this in the past, limitations and considerations in application and how it could be made more accessible generally.
- Legal approaches used in other administrations - comparison to Agency / Department of Justice service model; issues with the current model and potential for improvements (tax vs procedural).
Additional subjects for consideration may be added by the committee, the Minister, or the CRA. To assist the committee, the CRA will propose the scope and suggested output for the subject being considered by the committee, e.g., discussion, report, recommendations, comparative analysis, etc.
Outputs and Success Factors
- Broadening and deepening CRA's understanding of risks, trends and practices in relation to offshore tax matters.
- Contributing to new and enhanced compliance policies and practices.
- Advice to the CRA on changes, new approaches and pilot programs.
- Contributing to draft administrative policy papers for public consultation.
- Recommendations for procedural change that would accelerate resolution, and reduce the risks, of matters related to CRA audits including litigation.
- Recommendations on how to promote public understanding of CRA results and the challenges with offshore compliance.
Role of Committee Members
The role of each member will be to consider the administrative measures needed to help protect the Canadian tax base and enhance the overall fairness and transparency of Canadian tax administration.
Membership: The committee will have a chair and 4 to 6 members. The initial term is 24 months, renewable on agreement.
Terms of Reference: These terms of reference will be reviewed periodically as needed.
Reporting and Secretariat: The committee will be struck by the Commissioner of the CRA and secretariat services will be provided by the CRA.
Confidentiality and Communications: All participants will be encouraged to be open and candid in providing views related to tabled agenda items. Committee members will be encouraged to discuss the agenda items with other committee members both before and after committee meetings.
While deliberations will remain confidential unless there is general agreement and consensus, or otherwise a legal requirement, to make them public, committee members may freely discuss in the public sphere any finalized outputs and outcomes of the committee's work. Members' responsibilities with specific regard to media enquiries are outlined in their letter of agreement.
Records or minutes of discussion will respect the principle of non-attribution.
Public updates, agendas, minutes and consultation papers will be released and posted on the CRA OCAC web page.
Specific Files and Recusals: It is specifically understood that the committee is not an appropriate forum for pursuing the interests of particular taxpayers, taxpayer groups or clients or seeking in any manner to resolve matters otherwise under discussion with the CRA with respect to particular taxpayer files.
If any members believe a real or perceived conflict of interest is present with respect to a particular item, that member will voluntarily recuse himself/herself from the discussion.
Frequency of Meetings: OCAC will convene formally three times a year, at least once in person with specific meetings dates and agenda to be set by the chair in consultation with CRA. It is expected that there will be ongoing dialogue between committee members occurring on a regular basis as the government seeks feedback on particular aspects of initiatives conducted in support of the offshore programs.
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