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Columnists

The growth of extreme inequality in Canada

There was always skepticism about claims that, as the rich became richer, income would "trickle down" to others. What wasn't perhaps foreseen was that the trickling would actually be in the other direction, and that it would be more of a torrent than a trickle.

But the evidence is now clear. Over the last three decades, the tables of the rich have overflowed, with barely any scraps falling off. On the contrary, there's been a massive transfer of income and wealth from Canada's middle and lower class to the rich.

The result is that Canada has become a highly unequal society.

Columnists

We need inspired political leadership to champion greater equality

Nobody ever accused Barack Obama of having too stiff a spine.

Even so, there is something crushingly disappointing about reports last week that the U.S. president is likely to retreat from his promise to cancel George W. Bush's tax cuts for the rich.

Such a capitulation to the Republicans would concede defeat before the battle to achieve greater equality and to "spread the wealth around" is even waged. The audacity of hope seems to have turned into a readiness to choke.

Obama's promise was a modest one -- to push the top marginal tax rate from 35 per cent back up to its Clinton-era level of 39 per cent.

Columnists

Restoring inheritance tax could raise education revenue

Almost 40 years ago, Ottawa quietly cancelled Canada's estate tax.

Few Canadians even knew about the tax. Those who did mostly belonged to a small number of wealthy families who were rich enough to pay it. With its cancellation in 1972, this tiny crowd was suddenly a lot richer.

U of T economist John Bossons calculated that ending the tax amounted to a windfall of about $12 billion ($62 billion in today's dollars) for Canada's wealthiest families.

The removal of the estate tax, which remains an obscure event in Canadian history, had momentous implications, depriving Ottawa of revenue and putting Canada on a path toward greater inequality.

Columnists

New Brunswick has a fiscal mal de ventre

We've become regrettably disconnected from one another here in the Maritime provinces. For example, in Nova Scotia the only thing we seem to know about New Brunswick these days is that prices are cheaper over the border, causing embarrassment for the Nova Scotia government.

Gas stations and other businesses are wobbling and closing in the Amherst area because people are flocking to New Brunswick to gas up and buy stuff. Business people complain, with the accusation that Nova Scotia's taxes are too high.

Columnists

Europe looks ahead

British Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown has come out in favour of a global financial transactions tax. Speaking Saturday in Edinburgh (his home base) to a G20 Finance Ministers meeting on the subject of bank bailouts Brown said "it cannot be acceptable that the benefits of success in this sector are reaped by the few but the costs of its failure are borne by all of us."

 

Trish Hennessy

Ontario budget: Don't throw taxes under the bus

| April 16, 2014
Columnists

Are CEOs panicking over a new style of tax rage brewing?

Photo: imacgyv0r/flickr

It's rare that members of Canada's financial elite are so clumsy in revealing that their cage has been rattled.

Seemingly out of the blue this week, the head honchos of Canada's biggest companies, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, put out a media release insisting that their taxes are not too low.

This defensive posture -- who mentioned murder? -- reveals they fear others may be slowly catching on to the massive transfer of wealth to the richest Canadians that's been going on for the past 14 years due to the systematic cutting of corporate tax rates.

Columnists

No justice, no transit: A missed opportunity to debate taxes in Ontario's election

Photo: Paul Schreiber/flickr

Another golden moment is slipping away. I don't mean the Leafs (not only). I mean the Ontario election we might have had, the one about taxes, with a debate on what it means to be a society. I adore elections like that, rare as they are: the 1988 free trade election, the 1992 Charlottetown referendum (technically not an election, but still a vote). They stand out because they aren't about who wins; they're about what matters.

Premier Kathleen Wynne seemed up for it. She proposed solving the Metro transit catastrophe with "dedicated" taxes. She even teed them up: half a per cent to HST, a gas tax rise. Then she raised her bet: a provincial pension plan, since the Stephen Harper government won't do anything to address that situation.

December 2, 2013 |
Our tax system is riddled with unfair and ineffective loopholes that cost federal and provincial governments a lot of money and disproportionately benefit higher income taxpayers.
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