Earlier this month the Toronto Star published an editorial calling on Justin Trudeau to make tax fairness a priority for 2017. The editors argue that fixing the tax system would help restore confidence in the leadership and vision of the government. Good politics. But let's talk money for a moment.
Canada would have billions in increased revenues each year if the government gets serious about tackling tax havens and plugging loopholes like the stock option deduction and a host of others that have us hemmoraging money. Right now that money goes straight into the pockets of very wealthy individuals and corporations who are playing the system. Why is this even an option for our political class?
It is about choices. Not only Justin Trudeau's choices but Canadians' choices.
Should a government spend those revenues on a National Pharmacare System or earmark the money to give a tax holiday to bank presidents cashing in stock option? What benefits Canada more?
Do we get a better return on investment by fixing our tax system so that profits made in Canada are taxed in Canada? Or do we really want to stay with a status quo that encourages the use of dodgy tax schemes and anonymous companies?
Canadians for Tax Fairness has been on the case for nearly five years.. and we are making a difference. Make 2017 the year when governments heed the message that tax fairness is not optional - it is basic to a healthy democracy. And heaven's knows that with what is going on all around us, Canada needs a strong democracy more than ever.
Please make a donation to help us achieve our goal. Fair Tax. For Everyone.
And if you haven't already read it, here's some excerpts from that Toronto Star editorial.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau says tax fairness is his top priority, though he hasn’t always acted like it. Canada’s sprawling tax code is rife with regressive loopholes that the government has rightly promised to review. But action has been worryingly slow given the huge sums of public money at stake.
Under industry pressure, Morneau shamefully backtracked on his promise to close the loophole, which costs Ottawa about $1 billion annually, 90 per cent of which goes to the top 1 per cent of earners.
This obscene tax expenditure is just one of more than 60 such measures that collectively drain about $100 billion from federal coffers every year, providing by far the greatest benefit to those who need it least.
The planned comprehensive review of Canada’s tax system is expected to find $3 billion in savings – a plausible, if modest, goal. Fixing our prolix tax code can’t happen overnight. But the government should show Canadians it’s serious about tax fairness by moving quickly to close loopholes and cap benefits that help the very rich while hampering Ottawa’s ability to help the rest of us.
Sincerity and gravity. The challenge for Trudeau in 2017 will be to show Canadians that his government means what it says – and delivers.