Quebec finance minister asks tax department to examine Bombardier

QUEBEC - Quebec's finance minister says he understands Bombardier Inc. pays its taxes according to Quebec and Canadian laws and that "we receive what we should receive."

But nevertheless Carlos Leitao said he has asked Revenu Quebec to look into whether Bombardier is using a European tax haven to avoid provincial taxes.

He made the comments after confidential documents were disclosed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The documents have information about Bombardier and other firms.

Reports say that according to the documents Bombardier transferred hundreds of millions of dollars to Luxembourg to save taxes.

They say the Montreal-based aircraft and railway car manufacturer used a complex structure to transfer funds to subsidiaries in Luxembourg in order to legally reduce its Canadian tax bill.

Isabelle Rondeau of Bombardier said the company follows all tax laws.

"Bombardier's worldwide corporate structure abides by all applicable laws, including tax laws, " said an email from Rondeau, communications director for the company.

After a speech in Quebec City, Leitao, the finance minister, said he understands Bombardier paid taxes according to provincial and federal laws.

"I believe that we receive what we should receive," he said at a news conference.

Leitao said the "strategy" is used by many large multinationals, including Disney and Skype, and deals exclusively with taxes owed in Europe.

Nonetheless, Leitao said he's asked the province's tax agency to examine the situation.

Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) is one of Quebec's largest companies and a large beneficiary of government financial support.

The Fraser Institute last year said Bombardier only trailed Pratt & Whitney Canada in securing federal assistance, obtaining more than $1 billion between 1961 and 2012.

Quebec has also regularly helped, providing support for its new CSeries commercial jet. Through the Caisse de depot and Investissement Quebec, it injected $450 million this year in the McInnis Cement project controlled by the Beaudoin-Bombardier family.

Bombardier CEO Pierre Beaudoin recently expressed displeasure with Leitao's decision to reduce corporate tax credits by 20 per cent. He suggested the move might influence the investment decisions of the company.

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