The real cost of tax avoidance – Editorial (Toronto Star – February 5, 2018)

Corporations that avoid tax, like the mining company Turquoise Hill Resources, are depriving governments of billions of dollars a year in tax revenue — money that could be going to pay for everything from health care to national defence.

Whatever the Vancouver-based mining company Turquoise Hill Resources is paying its tax lawyers, it isn’t enough.

Over the past seven years the company has used a complicated network of subsidiaries, foreign tax havens, and a variety of financial manoeuvres to avoid paying more than half a billion dollars in Canadian tax. It’s also avoided paying another $232 million (U.S.) to the government of Mongolia, where it operates one of the world’s biggest copper mines.

All this is detailed in a report by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, a Dutch non-profit known as SOMO, and highlighted this past week in the Star by reporter Marco Chown Oved.

Why care about a mine in distant Mongolia or the tax dealings of a company most Canadians have never heard of? The simple reason is that the case of Turquoise Hill provides a classic example of how so many corporations operating internationally have used tax laws, international treaties and legal structures to minimize the tax they pay.

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