|Wikileaks:||View 05TORONTO2634 at Wikileaks.org|
|Classification:||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY|
|Tags:||EINV EFIN KTIA PREL CA US|
|Redacted:||This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TORONTO 002634 SIPDIS STATE FOR EB TONY WAYNE STATE FOR WHA/CAN, EB/IFD, INR STATE FOR WHA DAS WHITAKER USDOC FOR 3000/ITA U/S RHONDA KEENUM USDOC FOR 432/ITA/IAA/BASTIAN/RUDMAN/FOX TREASURY FOR U/S (INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS) TIMOTHY ADAMS TREASURY FOR U/S (DOMESTIC FINANCE) RANDY QUARLES DEPT ALSO PASS USTR FOR J. MELLE AND S. CHANDLER DEPT PASS SEC - MARISA LAGO DEPT PASS FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD DEPT PASS TO IRS COMMISSIONER MARK EVERSON WHITE HOUSE/NSC - KIM BRIER AND SUE CRONIN SENSITIVE E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: EINV, EFIN, KTIA, PREL, CA, US SUBJECT: Canadian Financial Services Sector: U.S. Banks Say, "Ax the Withholding Tax on Interest" Refs: (A) 04 Toronto 0514 (B) 01 Toronto 1069 Sensitive But Unclassified - Please Protect Accordingly. 1. (U) This message is one in a series reviewing the Canadian financial services sector from a cross-border, North American integration perspective. In September 2005 the Toronto Financial Services Alliance sponsored roundtables for ConGen Toronto with industry sector experts in venture capital (septel), banking (septel), securities (septel), and insurance (septel). 2. (SBU) SUMMARY: American banks that operate wholesale banking branches in Canada say that the Canadian and U.S. withholding taxes on income paid to non-residents impedes the development of a secondary loan market in Canada. U.S. banking interests in Canada are the major victims but Canada and North America as a whole are losing out when Canada's secondary loan market remains relatively illiquid. The Foreign Banks' Executive Committee (FBEC) at the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) has mobilized the major domestic Canadian banks to lobby senior Finance Department officials in Ottawa to deal with this issue during upcoming bi-lateral Tax Treaty negotiations with the United States. U.S. bank representatives located in Toronto ask that the USG encourage Canada to remove the withholding tax on income paid to non-residents. END SUMMARY. U.S. Bankers Complain about Withholding Tax ------------------------------------------- 3. (SBU) In late September, two CEOs and one senior representative of Bank of America (Canada), Citibank (Canada), and JP Morgan Chase (Canada) approached the Consul General privately to complain bitterly about the Canada-U.S. withholding tax on income paid to non- residents. At issue is paragraph 212 (1) (b) of the Canadian Income Tax Act (ITA), which deals with withholding tax on interest paid to non-residents. The U.S. bankers said current bilateral withholding taxes on cross-border interest payments have a very detrimental effect on liquidity and, therefore, a correspondingly negative impact on the possibility of establishing a strong Canadian secondary loan market. They argued that they would be strong players in the Canadian secondary loan market, if it were permitted to become as dynamic as it is in the U.S. In practice, the Canadian ITA keeps U.S. investors all but out of the secondary loan market, hitting U.S. banking interests, robbing the Canadian market of liquidity, and adversely affecting the strength and depth of North American integration in financial services. 4. (SBU) Elimination of withholding tax (or, at least, an expansion of the available exemptions) is a major priority for the Foreign Banks' Executive Committee (FBEC) at the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA). The FBEC has been successful in gaining the support of the domestic banks on this issue and is now working to gain the support of senior Finance Department officials in an attempt to change the ITA. Canadian Finance Department officials have been reluctant to address this issue because the projected cost of abolishing this withholding tax on interest and dividend earnings is worth C$2 billion per year in revenues. The U.S. banking community in Canada would welcome strong U.S. support for removing the withholding tax as part of the current bilateral tax treaty negotiations. Withholding Tax Can Lead to Double Taxation ------------------------------------------- 5. (SBU) Canada levies a 25 percent withholding tax on interest paid or credited to non-residents. This rate has been reduced to 10 percent under many of Canada's tax treaties, including the present Canada-United States Income Tax Convention. Canadian withholding tax is applied to interest payments made to all non- resident non-arm's-length lenders (i.e., related party) and to non-resident arm's-length (i.e., unrelated party) lenders. Both countries allow their residents to credit foreign withholding taxes against their domestic income tax liability to avoid double taxation. However, the foreign withholding tax liability (applicable to earnings before expenses) can be larger than the domestic corporate tax liability (applicable to profits), making it a net "border tax" that effectively amounts to double taxation (reftel). Withholding Tax Impedes Secondary Loan Market --------------------------------------------- 6. (U) The withholding tax impedes the development of a dynamic secondary loan market in Canada by effectively shutting U.S. investors out. For example, one of the deepest and most liquid markets in the U.S. is the Public and Conduit Asset Backed Securitization market. In 2002 this market represented approximately US$730 billion of liquidity in the U.S. By contrast, the Canadian Securitization market was some US$60 billion in 2002. According to the FBEC members of the CBA, the withholding tax is one of the main reasons why U.S. liquidity does not flow to Canada. 7. (U) Credit cards, auto loans, leases, and mortgage- backed securities are some of the most actively financed interest-bearing assets in this market. Currently, a Canadian financial institution desiring to boost its liquidity by selling a bundle of similarly priced and timed interest bearing assets in this market will find that U.S. banks, with deep pockets of liquidity, are not interested in buying because the interest earnings on Canadian assets will be too low to make the deal fly once the withholding tax on those interest earnings is factored in. Comment: Time to Ax this Tax ---------------------------- 8. (SBU) Both U.S. and Canadian banks believe that the withholding tax on income paid to non-residents should be axed and measures taken to encourage and develop a secondary loan market in Canada. Bankers argue that elimination of (or, at least, significant cuts to) the current withholding tax would have a widespread positive impact on both the banking and corporate marketplace with corresponding positive effects for investment and economic development in Canada and North America at large. They argue that the most viable method of amending the withholding tax provisions in the Income Tax Act is through changes to the bilateral Tax Treaty between the United States and Canada. LECROY
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