Canadian finance minister says country not a tax haven

Tue Sep 30, 2014 5:05pm EDT
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TORONTO, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Canada is not a tax haven but its government is always looking to make the country more attractive to foreign investors, Canadian Finance Minister Joe Oliver said on Tuesday.

Corporate tax laws have come under scrutiny following a spate of international deals structured to benefit U.S. companies by shifting their domiciles abroad. Last week, the U.S. government imposed tough new rules aimed at making these "inversion" deals less appealing.

"We're not presenting ourselves as a tax haven," Oliver said at a Bloomberg conference in New York. "We've got a competitive tax regime. We have a legal system that is reliable and objective and we don't discriminate against foreign companies."

Last month, Burger King Worldwide Inc proposed an $11.5 billion cash-and-stock acquisition of Canada's Tim Hortons Inc.

The deal spurred talk that it was made partly because of corporate tax savings for Burger King and controlling shareholder 3G Capital, a New York-based investment firm.

Both companies have said the deal is driven by long-term growth and not tax benefits, and would not be impacted by the new U.S. Treasury Department rules to curb inversion deals.

Oliver also said on Tuesday that Canada must attract outside capital to help fund C$650 billion in resource sector projects over the next decade.

But the minister did not say whether Ottawa would consider further steps such as cutting corporate taxes further, to make Canada a more appealing place to invest.

(Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Tom Brown)