Liberals undermine fairness in tax system
The last few months’ political headlines indisputably exposed the mess that surrounds Canada’s tax system.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau toured the country talking about “tax fairness” as they pitched revisions to corporate tax measures.
Rather than bring the country together, this fomented something of a culture war, as small-business owners felt they were labelled cheats and Morneau mulled removing measures such as income splitting.
Morneau has since been fined by the ethics commissioner for violating two provisions of the Conflict of Interest Act related to his failure to properly disclose a French villa. He’s also now under a separate probe for sponsoring a bill on pension benefits while indirectly holding shares in his family firm that could potentially benefit from the bill.
Then we learned the shocking news the Canada Revenue Agency wanted to tax low-income earners for the employee discounts they receive on products purchased at their own stores, including meals and clothing. It was one of the meanest examples of nickel-and-diming the little guy Canadians have seen in a long time.
Adding insult to injury, the release of The Paradise Papers revealed many rich Canadians have off-shore accounts in tax havens that allow them to legally avoid paying the same tax rates paid by middle-class Canadians.
So tax loopholes are OK for the rich, but not for the little guy?
All this has undermined Canadians’ confidence in our tax system, and not surprisingly a new Nanos poll shows a majority of Canadians believe “Liberal economic policies favour upper-income rather than lower-income people.”
This is where the latest Postmedia column by Jim Warren comes in. Our resident Liberal strategist proposes a royal commission on taxation, something that hasn’t been done since 1966.
Warren writes a “public inquiry would provide concrete, workable recommendations” to modernize our tax system. It’s worth considering.
Also worth a look is a proposal from NDP MP Murray Rankin, detailed in a recent Postmedia column by Tom Parkin, that would tax money leaving the country bound for tax havens.
If the Liberals were after actual fairness, they would also look at the overall tax burden on Canadians and recognize current tax burdens in this country are killing jobs and prosperity.
But don’t hold your breath on that score.