Min­is­ter swamped with tax-plan feed­back

MORNEAU FLOODED WITH MORE THAN 10,000 MES­SAGES: MEMO

Lethbridge Herald - - BUSINESS - Andy Blatchford THE CANA­DIAN PRESS — OTTAWA

Finance Min­is­ter Bill Morneau was in­un­dated with more than 10,000 mis­sives last fall fol­low­ing the re­lease of con­tro­ver­sial tax change pro­pos­als that in­fu­ri­ated the small-busi­ness com­mu­nity, says an in­ter­nal fed­eral doc­u­ment.

The memo, ob­tained by The Cana­dian Press, says the flood of mes­sages ad­dressed di­rectly to the min­is­ter came in ad­di­tion to more than 21,000 email sub­mis­sions his depart­ment re­ceived as part of a re­lated pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion process.

The Nov. 15 briefing note to the deputy finance min­is­ter also said the depart­ment had yet to process all the tax-re­lated re­sponses at that time — even though more than a month had passed since the end of the con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod.

“The tax pol­icy branch has been ac­tively sort­ing through sub­mis­sions in or­der to seg­re­gate those con­tain­ing sub­stan­tive pol­icy com­ments for fur­ther anal­y­sis by those in­volved in pol­icy devel­op­ment,” said the “se­cret” memo pre­pared for Paul Ro­chon and ob­tained through the Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion Act.

“As ex­pected, the con­sul­ta­tions mostly at­tracted sub­mis­sions from tax­pay­ers that would be af­fected by the pro­posed tax changes.”

Morneau’s tax-re­form pro­pos­als for pri­vate cor­po­ra­tions came un­der fire fol­low­ing their re­lease last sum­mer. A vo­cal group of op­po­nents spent months crit­i­ciz­ing the plan and warned it would hurt the very mid­dle class the Trudeau gov­ern­ment has claimed to be try­ing to help.

Morneau in­sisted the pro­pos­als were de­signed to stop wealthy own­ers of pri­vate cor­po­ra­tions from un­fairly tak­ing ad­van­tage of the sys­tem.

How­ever, the up­roar even­tu­ally forced him to back away from some el­e­ments of his plan af­ter the con­clu­sion of a 75day con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod that ended Oct. 2. He in­sisted some of the changes to the orig­i­nal plan would mean only the top three per cent of the wealth­i­est own­ers of pri­vate cor­po­ra­tions would pay more taxes.

The memo to his deputy min­is­ter listed the most com­mon crit­i­cisms found in the sub­mis­sions.

They in­cluded com­plaints the con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod was too short, that the changes would have retroac­tive con­se­quences on re­tire­ment plans cre­ated un­der the cur­rent rules and that farm­ers were too busy with their har­vests to thor­oughly ex­am­ine the pro­pos­als.

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