Cham­ber calls for pe­ti­tion

Fed’s tax plan faces op­po­si­tion

Moose Jaw Times Herald - - FRONT PAGE - MICHAEL JOEL-HANSEN

The Saskatchewan Cham­ber of Com­merce has waded into the de­bate sur­round­ing the Fed­eral Lib­eral govern­ment’s plan to re­form cer­tain taxes in a big way.

In an email sent out Thurs­day the cham­ber asked mem­bers and sup­port­ers to put their names to a pe­ti­tion op­pos­ing the plan cur­rently be­ing con­sid­ered by par­lia­ment. The pro­posed leg­is­la­tion would close cer­tain tax loop­holes that in­cor­po­rated busi­ness can use to re­duce their over­all tax bill.

CEO for the Moose Jaw and District Cham­ber of Com­merce Rob Clark said the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s mem­ber­ship is con­cerned.

“A lot of peo­ple don’t un­der­stand what’s going,” he said.

Clark is hop­ing to sit down with the cham­ber’s ac­coun­tant to fig­ure out what any po­ten­tial changes might mean for lo­cal busi­nesses, and then ed­u­cate busi­nesses on the is­sue. Clark was also crit­i­cal of the 75-day con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod the govern­ment has pro­posed to hear po­ten­tial feed­back.

“I don’t think it’s a big enough win­dow,” he said.

Clark added he doesn’t feel the pro­posed changes are fair to small busi­nesses.

The Saskatchewan cham­ber’s call to ac­tion re­ceived sup­port from Moose Jaw-Lake Cen­ter-Lani­gan MP Tom Luki­wski.

“I am pleased to see the cham­ber be­com­ing proac­tive,” Luki­wski said.

I think the govern­ment needs to go back to the draw­ing board. Tom Luki­wski

mem­ber who owns a busi­ness to trans­fer money earned by that busi­ness to an­other mem­ber of the fam­ily, who would likely pay a cap­i­tal gains rate as op­posed to that of earned in­come, which is higher. He added that end­ing this pro­gram would be es­pe­cially un­fair to farm­ing fam­i­lies. “Ev­ery­one on a farm works,” he said. Be­sides farm­ers, Luki­wski said he has talked to many physi­cians who do not like the pro­posed changes.

“I’ve talked to doc­tors who are talk­ing about leav­ing, ei­ther going down south or to Aus­tralia,” he said.

The MP said it is un­fair to com­pare self-em­ployed pro­fes­sion­als or small busi­ness own­ers to peo­ple who are em­ployed in job.

“Most pro­fes­sion­als (and small busi­ness own­ers) don’t have ac­cess to the same ben­e­fits as peo­ple who are em­ployed by an es­tab­lished com­pany,” he said.

On the over­all is­sue of taxes and specif­i­cally tax re­form, Luki­wski thinks the whole sys­tem needs to be looked at and that rates need to be made more “flat.”

“Lower taxes are ben­e­fi­cial to us as Cana­di­ans,” he said.

New Demo­crat MP for Regina Lew­van Erin Weir has a very dif­fer­ent take.

Weir agrees with Luki­wski that the con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod needs to be ex­panded in or­der for peo­ple to voice any con­cerns they may have, but said the root of the cur­rent prob­lem is that since the 1970’s there has been a rise in the num­ber of peo­ple in­cor­po­rat­ing them­selves, the only pur­pose be­ing to lower their tax bur­den. “Tax avoid­ance is a prob­lem,” he said. Weir agreed that it is im­por­tant that fam­ily farms be pro­tect and felt the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion does that.

“The govern­ment pro­posal stops sprin­kling (to) peo­ple not in­volved di­rectly in the busi­ness,” he said.

Weir also said the cur­rent loop­holes al­low for peo­ple to pay money to them­selves from their pri­vate cor­po­ra­tions via div­i­dends, where the money is taxed at a lower rate com­pared to earned in­come.

In re­gards to the is­sue of physi­cians po­ten­tially leav­ing the coun­try, Weir said he does not be­lieve that will be an is­sue.

“Taxes are a small part of the pic­ture when peo­ple are de­ter­min­ing where they are going to live,” he said.

Weir added he would be open to talk­ing about the lev­els that physi­cians are com­pen­sated at, but said special tax breaks are not a jus­ti­fi­able op­tion. He also said th­ese pro­posed changes will not af­fect a large num­ber of peo­ple.

“Only a small mi­nor­ity of Cana­di­ans can in­cor­po­rate,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Weir, the num­ber of Cana­di­ans who are uti­liz­ing th­ese loop­holes is even smaller; 22,000 ac­cord­ing to the Canada Rev­enue Agency.

“It’s a small frac­tion of a small Weir said. frac­tion,”

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