Drainville says Couillard should have paid Quebec taxes on overseas income
Published Thursday, March 27, 2014 8:35AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 27, 2014 7:08PM EDT
Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard should have paid Quebec taxes on money he earned while working in Saudi Arabia, says the Parti Quebecois.
According to a Radio Canada investigation, made public Wednesday night, Couillard held a legal offshore bank account for eight years, from 1992 to 2000.
The story says Couillard confirmed he had deposited $600,000 in the Royal Bank of Canada account in the Channel Islands, a known tax haven, while working as a neurosurgeon in Saudi Arabia from 1992 to 1996.
He didn’t pay any taxes on the money at the time because non-residents of Canada are not obliged to pay taxes to Canada, nor was he obligated to pay taxes to Saudi Arabia.
Upon his return to this country, he voluntarily disclosed the existence of the account and paid taxes on the accumulated interest. Couillard was first elected to office in 2003.
PQ Minister Bernard Drainville said Thursday that as a doctor who was educated in Quebec, Couillard should have paid Quebec taxes on the money he earned overseas.
“It is Quebec taxpayers who paid for his training, and I think it would have been the correct thing to do to give a little bit back to Quebec society during these four years where he made, presumably, a lot of money, he said.
“If you’re under no obligation to pay taxes to Saudi Arabia, why not pay taxes to Quebec?”
PQ candidate Simon Prevost also blasted Couillard for the account, saying he made a “conscious choice” to deposit the money into a tax haven in order to avoid paying taxes.
“The question we’re asking is why didn’t Couillard want to pay taxes?” he asked.
When reporters pointed out that Couillard’s account was held with the Jersey Island branch of the Royal Bank of Canada, Prevost took no notice.
“We’re talking about a question of principles, a question of integrity, a question of choices,” he said.
The Radio-Canada report cites a tax specialist who said Couillard could have deposited his income in any bank he wanted, but that it seems he chose the Channel Islands because at the time, it was considered to be a tax haven.
The account was given to Couillard's ex-wife as part of a divorce settlement.