Privacy Commissioner Raises Concerns Over U.S. Tax Law Compliance

    May 11, 2016

    In an appearance before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics on April 14, Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien told lawmakers that Canada’s compliance with the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act may be causing the government to collect and turn over more personal information than is required.

    He said there need to be limits to the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information, defined retention periods, and appropriate safeguards as part of an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that requires the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) to obtain information on the accounts of U.S. citizens from Canadian financial institutions and report that information to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

    “The CRA is expected to protect personal information from unauthorized uses and disclosures of personal information, especially considering the sensitivity of financial information and the reasonable expectation of individuals that it generally be kept confidential,” he stated.

    Therrien also expressed concern about the lack of clarity regarding exemptions for the reporting of accounts under $50,000. While information on accounts below that threshold are not required to be reported under the IGA, he said the agreement implementing law “seems to require reporting on all U.S. reportable accounts, unless the financial institution specifically designates an account to not be a U.S. reportable account.” 

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