Here's Why the Stock Option Loophole Has to Go!

Politicians, often patronizingly, like to talk about how drawing up a country's budget is similar to the process for a family budget. We think that is a stretch. But for the sake of this article we will roll with it.

So let's say things are going well, but are a bit tight and you have to account for all your spending habits. Year after year, would you hive off money to send it to your rich uncle who spends an inordinate amount of time in Cayman Islands or Barbados while you slog away in the Canadian winter? Would you choose to spend that money on him instead of, let's say, purchasing prescriptions for a sick child, paying a professional child care worker to take care of your kids or sending a young adult to university. Using the Finance Minister's own metaphor, that is exactly what Canada does by leaving tax loopholes - especially the stock option loophole - in federal budgets.

"It's outrageous," Canadians for Tax Fairness Executive Director Dennis Howlett told a CBC Business reporter in a recent interview. "Why would we give more money to those who are already overpaid and extremely wealthy?"  

Liberals used to agree with this logic. They campaigned on it.  And Canadians believed them. But last year Finance Minister Bill Morneau caved on that promise after some lobbying from big business interests.  Then he looked regular taxpayers straight in the eye and told them that the loophole was necessary to support start ups.

Not so.  Turns out 75 of Canada's richest men - and they are mostly men - benefit from this loophole. And none of them are involved in emerging start-ups. Instead we're talking bank presidents, big pharma CEOs and insurance company execs. You get the picture.   Meanwhile the Canadian treasury forfeits more than a quarter of a billion dollars to make them happy.  

Canadians for Tax Fairness has been pressuring the government for years to get rid of this and other tax loopholes.  Help us drive that message home before Budget Day 2017 on March 22.   Send this message now - it takes two minutes.