Sunday, July 3, 2016

Tax Fairness: A Doubtful Prospect

Recently I wrote a post expressing doubt that the tax treaties signed by Stephen Harper at the urging of big business will not in any way be amended by Justin Trudeau. Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs), as manipulated by Harper, allow for the legalized theft of countless billions of corporate tax dollars from the public treasury, thereby limiting what government can do to alleviate social and economic woes here at home.

Judging by some letters in today's Star, I see I am not alone in my suspicion that relief will not be forthcoming from our 'new' government:
Re: Why not outlaw use of tax havens? Letter June 22

Re: Loopholes costing Canada billions in lost revenue page, June 17

Sadly, Robert Bahlieda is a prophet crying in the wilderness. The criminalization of corporate tax avoidance is next to impossible when, as he rightly argues, it is ingrained in our culture and politicians routinely coddle business interests.

While it took great courage for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reject austerity and embrace infrastructure spending, it will take even more political chutzpah to entertain radical tax reform when Canadians are unwilling to pay even for the programs and services they need.

In the end it is we the citizens who must object to the privatization of our democracy. We need to care enough about it to insist that our representatives uphold the importance of taxation in a civilized society – the principled starting point of any true reform.

Salvatore (Sal) Amenta, Stouffville

This article should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind about who Western governments, and in particular the Canadian government, represent. It sure as hell isn’t the average voter in Canada.

I resent my hard earned tax dollars being spent on giveaways to multinational corporations like Bombardier, GM, and many others to ostensibly “create” new jobs, or “preserve” current employment, when these wealthy corporations pay next to no Canadian taxes. They then use their profits to buy back shares to better reward their executives, while at the same time cutting employees.

As the article points out, Canadian government policy has been to encourage the offshoring of profits.

The most effective way to stop this corporate gravy train is to eliminate income taxes on profits and replace them with a turnover tax of 1 to 3 per cent on all sales in Canada. Taxes on profits are easily subverted as we have seen with the shifting of taxes between Ireland and other jurisdictions.

A tax on corporate sales for the privilege of selling in Canada would at one fell swoop eliminate all the fancy accounting practices and legal manoeuvres to avoid taxes. Sales are the easiest thing to monitor and the most difficult to obscure.

Don Buchanan, Etobicoke

When discussing corporate tax avoidance the argument is made that Canadian multinationals need these “tools” to give them the “best ability to compete on international and global scale.” We’ve heard this kind of argument in another sphere – doping and steroid use in professional and amateur athletics.

Perhaps it’s time the multinationals were also barred from competition and stripped of their hardware so that the ethical ones can thrive.

Sid Potma, Toronto

The integrity of Canada’s tax system, as it’s currently written, looks disproportionately to its citizens for the tax base to maintain our country. I would appreciate it if some one would publish a list of the Canadian companies/corporations blatently avoiding billions in corporate taxes, thus placing an unfair burden on all of us to maintain the basic lifestyle we have become accustomed to.

Richard Kadziewicz, Scarborough


  1. You never miss a chance to attack Justin Trudeau do you? None of the people in the letters say anything about Trudeau so where are you getting that from?

    1. I am drawing that tentative conclusion from a couple of troubling indicators, Anon. One, there has been no government expression of opposition to the CRA's policy of shielding the identify of corporate tax dodgers (usually they are allowed to pay their back taxes in anonymity, as opposed to the small taxpayer being named and shamed on the CRA website) and two, Trudeau is a big enthusiast of free trade deals whose main benefits accrue to corporations, not ordinary Canadians. As well, during the campaign, he talked about tax fairness but not a word about increasing tax rates for corporations. Indeed, in May of 2015 he even opined about lowering those rates if Americans do so. All signs point to a man quite disposed to continuing the absurdly favourable treatment business currently enjoys.

  2. I don't think Trudeau embraced austerity Lorne. Because he is not going to balance the budget for a number of years, does not mean he rejected austerity . He is a neoliberal and neoliberal policy cannot be implemented without austerity. The most recent gambit is talk about selling and privatizing The Pearson Airport so the Gov. can get more money for infrastructure.Bets that we get militarily involved with NATO in Eastern Europe against Russia.We ain't seen nothing yet. Trudeau can turn on a dime.

    1. I just read the story about airport privatization in today's (Monday's) Star, Pamela. It seems he is taking a page out of Kathleen Wynne's playbook here.