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Detailed Tax Information of Rich and Famous Canadians Leaked by Canada Revenue Agency

2014-11-26 18:00

Affected individuals are to be informed about the incident

  Tax claim info from prominent Canadian figures has been leaked
Confidential information of hundreds of Canadians claiming tax deductions between 2008 and 2013 has been leaked by the Canada Revenue Agency in an 18-page spreadsheet containing donations made to art galleries and museums in the country.
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Confidential information of hundreds of Canadians claiming tax deductions between 2008 and 2013 has been leaked by the Canada Revenue Agency in an 18-page spreadsheet containing donations made to art galleries and museums in the country.

Many of the affected citizens are prominent figures like author Margaret Atwood, former prime minister Jean Chrétien, grocery magnate Frank Sobey, financier Stephen Bronfman, and Olympics chief Richard Pound.

The privacy breach blunder occurred when the agency sent the details to CBC News by mistake, “in reponse to a totally unrelated question,” the news division announced on Tuesday.

Data included donations of all values

The information contains names, home addresses, personal financial data, along with the donations (manuscripts, photographs and fine art) they made and the valuation of the items from the agency.

For some of the donations, the assessment made by the government was significantly lower than the value claimed by the donors.

At the top of the list of most valuable art work donated by the late publishing magnate Kenneth Thompson to the Art Gallery of Ontario is a Reubens painting (Massacre of the Innocents) evaluated at $200 / €160.4 million by the auditors. The tax deduction claimed by the owner was $255 / €204.4 million.

This charitable gesture also falls under the rules of confidentiality, but it has been made public at the time of the donation.

Smaller donations have also been made, evaluated at less than $5,000 / €4,000 and consisting of some personal papers.

Stricter security measures are required at the CRA

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is not at the first misstep of this kind and previous privacy breaches affected ordinary citizens. CBC reports that “privacy breaches at federal government agencies have become almost routine,” with 168 such incidents occurring since April 1, CRA being responsible for the largest number, 22 of them.

The privacy commissioner audited the agency and in a report in October 2013 criticized its security practices, thousands of files being exposed to unauthorized individuals for years.

Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay confirmed the current leak of private details and the privacy commissioner has been informed of the event. At the moment, efforts are made to contact all affected individuals.

Out of respect for privacy, CBC News did not release the spreadsheet and refrained from providing a full list of the people impacted by the incident.

Although it remains unknown exactly how this happened, one could speculate that the auto-complete feature for the “To” field in an email client and failure to check the recipient was at fault.


Source: WaS1iZv1ibvlGdh1mcvZmbJ1CehRVLkVGbpFGdlR0LzdXZu9SbvNmLhlGZlBHdm92cuM3dl52LvoDc0RHa/ca.ssr.dps

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