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isten in English

The Paradise Papers

Published: 11.24.2017
Level 5   |   Time: 2:59
Accent: Candian
Source: CBC (11.24.2017)

The Paradise Papers, documents showing confidential offshore investments, are creating controversy in Canada.


triangle Directions

  1. REVIEW the vocabulary / background.
  2. WATCH the video.
  3. ANSWER the questions.
  4. CHECK your answers. (Show Answers)

triangle Vocabulary

  • extent [n] - the limit
  • little more than [exp] - only
  • conservative estimate [n] - safe guess
  • compel [v] - motivate
  • leak [v] - publish something secret
  • tax haven [n] - place to hide money
  • major player [n] - important participant
  • run through [n] - summary
  • put off [phv] - delay
  • track [v] - follow, watch
  • parked [adj] - sitting, placed
  • illicit [adj] - illegal or shady behavior
  • launder [v] - hide
  • crack down [phv] - enforce strictly

[n] - noun,  [v] - verb,  [phv] - phrasal verb,  [adj] - adjective,  [exp] - expression

triangle Questions

  1. Why are the Paradise papers different from other leaks?
    They show that Canada is playing a game.
    They show that Canada is becoming a major country.
    They show that Canada is also involved.
    They show that Canada is involved deeply.

  2. How can you move your money abroad? (Check all that apply)
    Set up a company.
    Set up a trust.
    Pay someone to act as a director in that country.
    Find a trusty person to manage your company.

  3. Avoiding taxes through offshore methods is ____.
    totally legal
    totally illegal
    mostly legal
    sometimes illegal

  4. Which of these places are tax havens? (Check all that apply)
    The Mexican Islands

  5. How much Canadian money is in tax havens?
    2.5 billion dollars
    25 billion dollars

  6. What kind of laws do the tax havens have?
    secret laws
    strict laws
    secret Speculative laws
    strict secrecy laws

  7. What are those laws used for? (check all that apply)
    laundering money
    hiding money
    hiding your spouse
    hiding illegal activities

  8. How has Canada responded?
    By cracking the rules.
    By making it harder to hide your money.
    By making it easier to hide your money.
    By cracking down on the rules.

  9. What did the Ottawa deal accomplish?
    less secrecy
    easier access to tax havens
    more secrecy
    harder access to tax havens

  10. What has happened since that time?
    Tax havens have exploded.
    The use of tax havens has gone up significantly.
    The use of tax havens has dropped significantly.
    Illegal activities have exploded.

triangle Discussion

  1. Do you think tax havens should be illegal?
  2. If you were wealthy would you use tax havens?
  3. Can you think of any other problems connected with tax havens?
  4. Why was this project or “leak” so important to expose?

triangle Script

The paradise papers are the latest document leaked to reveal how thousands of Canadians keep money offshore and how this problem is growing now. Other leaks have shown how the wealthy use tax havens to avoid paying taxes. What this one shows is the extent to which Canada has become a major player in this game.

So what are tax havens and why are they a particular problem for Canada?

Here's a quick run-through on how they help people avoid paying tax. If you want to move your money abroad you have to have someone set up a company or a trust, pay someone to act as the director or

trustee in that country, though they're usually a little more than a name on a paper, then you can start to move your money into an account. And while your money is offshore it can grow; and there are ways to put off having to pay any taxes on it here in Canada; and it's all perfectly legal.

There's a lot of places you can choose to do this: there are more than 60 tax havens around the world including Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Guernsey, and a lot of tiny islands in the Caribbean. Because in addition to sandy beaches, places like Bermuda the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, they all have Very, very attractive tax deals with Canada.

Canada doesn't officially track the amount of money that’s parked offshore. But there's an estimated two hundred and fifty billion dollars in Canadian money and tax havens and that's just the money that's there legally. And all that money is costing Canadian taxpayers a lot. A conservative estimate suggests that Canada loses about 6 billion dollars in tax revenue every year because of tax havens. Just to give you an idea that's enough for 200,000 new childcare spaces, 650 safe drinking water systems on First Nations reserves, 18 Super Hornet fighter jets.

To be clear, that's money that could be coming to Canada in taxes if it wasn't so easy to avoid paying those taxes by keeping it offshore. But it's not always done legally because these tax havens have very strict secrecy laws. Those laws can be used for illicit ends - which is why they can be used to launder money - hide money from say your spouse or conceal illegal activities - because it can be hard to tell what money's yours and where it came from.

So why hasn’t Canada cracked down on the rules that allow this to happen? A good question. Some politicians have tried to make the rules tougher - but instead of cracking down, Canada's made it in some ways easier to avoid tax this way. Since 2009 Ottawa signed deals with two dozen tax havens including the Cayman Islands, Liechtenstein, and the Isle of Man. These deals are designed to compel those countries to share more information about Canadians who have accounts and money there; so less secrecy; but in exchange they actually make it easier for Canadian companies to set up there, and bring home the profits tax-free.

And you're probably not surprised to know: since those deals were first put in place the use of tax havens has exploded.

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