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Tax

Fingerprinting may lead to border issues for accused tax evaders

As they do not fall under the Criminal Code of Canada, tax evasion charges have not historically resulted in individuals being denied entry to the United States — but with the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) reported new plan to fingerprint individuals accused of these offences, this could change, Canadian tax lawyer David J. Rotfleisch tells AdvocateDaily.com.

As CBC News reports, the CRA implemented a new policy last fall that means the fingerprints of all individuals charged with tax evasion will be recorded in the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database, which is accessible by almost 70,000 Canadian police officers and also by some foreign agencies such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its border officers.

Rotfleisch, founding tax lawyer at Rotfleisch & Samulovitch Professional Corporation, explains that although tax evasion is an offence under the Income Tax Act and the Excise Tax Act when it concerns GST or HST, it is notably not a Criminal Code offence.

“While tax evasion and related tax offences under the tax acts carry with them possible jail terms, many convictions only bear monetary penalties and do not carry the stigma of a Criminal Code conviction. Historically a tax evasion offence was not a bar to entry into the United States,” he adds.

CBC News says it obtained a copy of an internal memorandum under the Access to Information Act that reportedly said U.S. officials checking the CPIC database "may view a taxpayer charged and/or convicted for tax evasion as inadmissible to their country."

As Rotfleisch explains: “With U.S. Homeland Security becoming more protective of U.S. borders, merely having fingerprints on file with CPIC based on a charge and not a conviction may well result in a block to entry into the U.S.” 

In addition, he says, “since U.S. Homeland Security vets the names of any passengers on planes flying over U.S. airspace, aggressive enforcement by them could create problems for passengers not even traveling to the U.S.”

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