Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Kathleen Harris reports on a federal budget update designed to have Canada borrow to shovel money into the pockets of big business. And PressProgress points out the absurdity of that plan when the corporate sector already has far too many loopholes and freebies at its disposal:
Corporate Canada will receive $14 billion in new tax giveaways over the next five years even though they are already receiving tens of billions of dollars every year through special tax loopholes.
Although Morneau opted against Trump’s no strings attached approach in favour of targeted tax incentives that allow companies to write-off the costs of investing in new machinery, clean energy equipment and newly acquired assets, the new measures are not offset by closing any of the ineffective and unfair tax loopholes that cost Canada tens of billions of dollars each year.

According to one estimate by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Canada is already losing $18 billion per year through special loopholes that primarily benefit Corporate Canada.

Various loopholes benefiting corporations and corporate executives relating to the taxation of capital gains, stock options, dividends as well as entertainment expenses for businesses have been widely criticized and identified as an easy way to restore billions in revenue.

Meanwhile, Canadian corporations already route billions of dollars through offshore tax havens, contributing to an estimated $10-15 billion in lost revenue each year.

Likewise, Morneau’s tax incentives to encourage clean energy investments are not offset by a move to “phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry,” something the Liberals promised in their 2015 election platform — in fact, Morneau actually introduced new subsidies in his 2017 budget.
- Meanwhile, Kevin Milligan offers his take as to what a progressive approach to revenue could include - with a focus on increasing personal income tax rates and ramping up enforcement to ensure everybody pays what they owe.

- Zi-Ann Lum reports on new research showing that hundreds of thousands of Canadians have to borrow money to fund necessary prescription drugs.

- Andre Picard writes about the appalling lack of public policy support for caregivers. And David Baxter reports on the growing number of newborns being stripped away from their families in Saskatchewan.

- Finally, Andrew Coyne criticizes Doug Ford's plan to return to systemic cash-for-access fund-raising - previously deemed unacceptable by all of Ontario's parties - now that his government has power to sell.


  1. On the Milligan piece . . . it continues to amaze me how virtually nobody commenting on corporate taxes pays attention to the fundamental feature of corporate taxation as opposed to personal taxation: Corporate taxes are charged on PROFITS. Personal taxes are charged on gross revenue.
    This has a lot of implications. First, most of the handwringing about hardships for poor owners of small companies is misplaced; if they aren't making any money, they don't pay any tax. It is, for instance, by definition impossible for corporate taxes to make a profitable company unprofitable, unless the rate is over 100%. And most particularly, on investment, companies already instantly get a tax break by investing: Money reinvested is, unless your accountants are incredibly incompetent, not profits. If you made $1 million in revenue over your regular expenses but spent $500,000 on new equipment or facilities or training or whatever, you should be paying tax on $500,000 of profits.
    The final implication: High corporate tax rates with few loopholes ENCOURAGE INVESTMENT. If you invest in future growth of the company, you don't pay tax on that; this only ceases to matter when corporate tax rates are so low and avoidable that you don't care about the tax hit. With low corporate tax rates you can just hand over the dough to the shareholders, but with high rates you'd better reinvest it instead.

    1. Very good points PLG, especially given the oft-repeated trope that cutting corporate tax rates will increase investment when it creates the exact opposite incentive.