Fingerprinting may lead to border issues for tax or customs evaders starting April 1, 2017
09 March, 2017
In an earlier blog, we discussed issues that may arise for people entering the United States of America. Tax and Customs evasion charges do not fall under the Criminal Code of Canada, and have not historically resulted in individuals being denied entry to the United States. With the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) reported new plan to fingerprint individuals accused of these offences starting on April 1, 2017 this could change.
As CBC News reports, the CRA implemented a new policy last fall that means the fingerprints of all individuals charged with tax evasion will be recorded in the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database, which is accessible by almost 70,000 Canadian police officers and also by some foreign agencies such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its border officers.
Although tax evasion is an offence under the Income Tax Act and the Excise Tax Act when it concerns GST or HST, it is notably not a Criminal Code offence. This applies equally to Customs Act offences. While tax evasion and related tax or customes offences under the respective acts carry with them possible jail terms, many convictions only bear monetary penalties and do not carry the stigma of a Criminal Code conviction. Historically these offences were not a bar to entry into the United States of America.
CBC News says it obtained a copy of an internal memorandum under the Access to Information Act that reportedly said U.S.A. officials checking the CPIC database “may view a taxpayer charged and/or convicted for tax evasion as inadmissible to their country.”
With United States Homeland Security becoming more protective of United States borders, merely having fingerprints on file with CPIC based on a charge and not a conviction may well result in a block to entry into the U.S.A. or quite simply a lot of uncomfortable questions at the border.
United States Homeland Security vets the names of any passengers on planes flying over United States airspace, meaning that aggressive enforcement could create problems for passengers not even traveling to the U.S.A.
The lawyers at Kalina & Tejpal can be reached at (416) 900-6999 or firstname.lastname@example.org