FATCA, Bill C-51, and the End of Taxpayer Privacy

The School of Public Policy
University of Calgary
5th Floor, 906-8th Ave SW
Calgary, AB T2P 1H9

A storm of media controversy has surrounded the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) and its incorporation by agreement into Canadian law in 2014. A consistent objection to FATCA is that it violates the privacy of Canadian taxpayers, simply for falling within FATCA’s broad definition of US persons. Taxpayer information is collected by Canadian financial institutions, sent to the CRA, and sent by the CRA to the IRS.

The privacy violations under FATCA pale in comparison to weak protections of taxpayer privacy under US domestic law. Recent amendments to Canada’s taxpayer privacy regime under the Conservative government, in Bill C-51 and in preceding legislation, have significantly undermined Canada’s domestic taxpayer privacy regime as well. This has significant implications for both the privacy rights of ordinary Canadian taxpayers, and for the enforcement of Canadian tax law where income is earned on the fringes of legality.

This Tax Policy Series lecture and Q&A session was delivered by Saul Templeton, Assistant Professor at the Law Department at the University of Calgary.