February 5, 2014 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Finance
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and National Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay today announced that, after lengthy negotiations, Canada and the United States have signed an intergovernmental agreement under the longstanding Canada-U.S. Tax Convention.
In March 2010, the U.S. enacted the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). FATCA would require non-U.S. financial institutions to report to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) accounts held by U.S. taxpayers. Failure to comply with FATCA could subject a financial institution or its account holders to certain sanctions including special U.S. withholding taxes on payments to them from the U.S.
FATCA has raised a number of concerns in Canada—among both dual Canada-U.S. citizens and Canadian financial institutions. One key concern was that the reporting obligations in respect of accounts in Canada would compel Canadian financial institutions to report information on account holders who are U.S. residents and U.S. citizens (including U.S. citizens who are residents or citizens of Canada) directly to the IRS, thus potentially violating Canadian privacy laws.
Without an agreement in place, obligations to comply with FATCA would have been unilaterally and automatically imposed on Canadian financial institutions and their clients as of July 1, 2014.
Today’s agreement addresses these concerns, as well as others.
- Under the agreement, financial institutions in Canada will not report any information directly to the IRS. Rather, relevant information on accounts held by U.S. residents and U.S. citizens (including U.S. citizens who are residents or citizens of Canada) will be reported to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The CRA will then exchange the information with the IRS through the existing provisions and safeguards of the Canada-U.S. Tax Convention. This is consistent with Canada’s privacy laws.
- The IRS will provide the CRA with enhanced and increased information on certain accounts of Canadian residents held at U.S. financial institutions.
- Significant exemptions and relief have been obtained. For instance, certain accounts are exempt from FATCA and will not be reportable. These include Registered Retirement Savings Plans, Registered Retirement Income Funds, Registered Disability Savings Plans, Tax-Free Savings Accounts, and others. In addition, smaller deposit-taking institutions, such as credit unions, with assets of less than $175 million will be exempt.
- The 30 percent FATCA withholding tax will not apply to clients of Canadian financial institutions, and can apply to a Canadian financial institution only if the financial institution is in significant and long-term non-compliance with its obligations under the agreement.
- The agreement is consistent with Canada’s support for recent G-8 and G-20 commitments intended to fight tax evasion globally and to improve tax fairness. In September 2013, G-20 Leaders committed to automatic exchange of tax information as the new global standard and endorsed a proposal by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to develop a global model for the automatic exchange of tax information. They also signaled an intention to begin exchanging information automatically on tax matters among G-20 members by the end of 2015.
- Draft legislation to implement the agreement will be released for comment shortly on the Department of Finance website.