OTTAWA – The accounting firm of KPMG is under fire from several directions. The Canada Revenue Agency is looking at its offshore tax structures in the Isle of Man and a union representing government financial officers has lodged complaints of professional misconduct against the company. Here’s a quick look at the company, the controversy and the island.
— Last fall, the CBC reported that the Canada Revenue Agency had offered amnesty agreements to some KPMG clients who used its Isle of Man tax shelter.
— The tax shelter had operated quietly for years before the revenue agency caught wind of it.
— Opposition politicians have demanded explanations, claiming wealthy tax dodgers are getting an undeserved break.
— KPMG is one of the world’s top four accounting firms, with about 174,000 employees worldwide.
— The KPMG International network was formed in 1987 when Peat Marwick International and Klynveld Main Goerdeler merged along with their respective member firms.
— The network reported revenues of $24.44 billion US for the 2015 fiscal year
— The Isle of Man is a small island (572 square kilometres) lying in the Irish Sea equidistant from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
— It is a political oddity. It a Crown dependency, although it is not part of the United Kingdom. Its 90,000 islanders are British citizens, but aren’t part of the European Union.
— It has its own legislature, the Tynwald, which passes its own laws with the assent of the Crown granted in the British Privy Council. The Crown remains responsible for defence and diplomatic representation, although the island has its own controls on immigration and housing.
— It has long been known for low taxes, both personal and corporate, although it has worked hard to shed its image as a tax haven.
— The Economist reported last fall that one-tenth of the island’s income came from online gambling and one-third from financial services.