After months of reducing expectations, Finance Minister Bill Morneau provided corporations with surprisingly large tax breaks in his mini-budget,worth $14.4 billion over the next five years. They were well-targeted for short-term political reasons: to shore up business support for the Liberals less than a year before the next election.
But a bigger question is whether another $14 billion in tax breaks for business will actually work in economic terms and boost business investment in Canada—and to “grow the middle class and those working hard to join it”?
The Auditor General’s Fall 2018 report on compliance activities by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) confirms what we’ve heard from Canadians and from CRA professionals as well: Canada’s Revenue Agency is more lenient in many ways with international and large businesses and taxpayers with offshore transactions than they are with individual Canadians.
Like many Canadian companies, Cameco uses subsidiaries and related companies in known tax-haven countries to lower their taxes in Canada. This often-used strategy by large corporations is costing Canadians over $10 billion per year.
"Canada needs to create a publicly accessible, centralized, registry of true (e.g., beneficial) owners of companies in an open, searchable format", Canadians for Tax Fairness Executive Director, Dennis Howlett told the House of Commons Finance Committee this week.. "This is key to stopping snow washing as it would serve as a deterrent to criminals and would facilitate access to information for law enforcement, tax authorities, financial institutions, civil society, and journalists", he said.
Ottawa - Canadians for Tax Fairness calls for action on tax and gender bias
There are two problems with gender bias of the tax system – a disproportionate benefit to men at the top incomes from tax breaks; and a loss of revenues for programs that mostly benefit women at the lower incomes.
Tax loopholes are used almost exclusively by top income earners, businesses and CEOs to maximize their bottom line and pay as little tax as possible. These include the Capital Gains Deduction, Employee Stock Options Deduction, the Meals and Entertainment Deduction and the Dividend Gross-up Credit. They also use private corporations for the same purpose.
“These are not gender neutral” says Diana Gibson, Communications Director for Canadians for Tax Fairness, “Women only accounted for 22% of the top 1% of income earners, 3 out of 100 top CEOs in Canada, 15.7 percent of majority owned small and medium sized businesses.”