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FUHR: A fair tax system should benefit middle class and not hurt business

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October 07, 2017 - 12:22 PM

 


OPINION


A Fraser Institute study, released Sept. 26, suggested 81 per cent of middle-income families in Canada are now paying more in taxes than they were before the last election.

Those who have read the report however, will note an essential absence in the calculations - the impact of transfer payments from the federal government to those same families, most notably through benefits like the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), which has a positive effect on a family’s bottom line.

As noted by Rhys Kesselman, Canada Research Chair in Public Finance at Simon Fraser University, in an interview with Global News, “A dollar in your pocket from benefit improvements is worth as much as a dollar lost in taxes. And in key areas, the benefit increases exceed the additional taxes for middle-income families.”

Federal transfers such as the CCB, old age security, employment insurance, Veterans’ allowances, and student grants - have long been the way Canadian governments – both Liberal and Conservative – have successfully narrowed the income inequality gap and supported families in middle and lower income tax brackets.

The tax-free CCB for instance, has provided significant financial support to lower and middle income families, without discriminating between single-parent or dual-parent families as income splitting for families did.

In Kelowna-Lake Country, the CCB has provided $5.4 million dollars in payments to more than 10,000 local families, supporting 17,750 children.

Such benefits are in addition to the government lowering the middle income tax rate and continuing to provide tax credits which include the GST tax credit and the working income tax benefit.

Failing to calculate lower tax rates, benefits, and tax credits into the equation may play well into a tax and spend narrative, but it does not accurately reflect the tax reductions afforded Canadians through the tax system.

As our new Governor General, the Right Honourable Julie Payette, noted in her first speech to Parliament on Oct. 2, ‘with our brains and our smarts, and our altruistic capability, we can indeed do a lot of good. And it’s our duty to some extent to help improve the lives of people in our community; to diminish the gap in the inequities here and elsewhere.’

Our government has made it a priority to ensure the tax system does not unfairly advantage wealthy Canadians over middle and lower income families.

A fair tax system not only diminishes the income inequality gap, it supports much needed new investment in affordable housing, post-secondary education, healthcare and an improved CPP.

By supporting programs that benefit the majority of Canadians, we reinforce the values of equality and opportunity, and can continue to build the compassionate and peaceful society which we have all worked hard to achieve.

It is a mandate that the vast number of Canadians voted for in the last election.

With regard to the business tax proposals that are on many of your minds, I can assure you our community has been heard on this issue. This has been clearly demonstrated by the significant shift in tone by the government and you have my assurance that I will continue to work with my colleagues to advocate for legislation that supports small business entrepreneurs.

— Stephen Fuhr is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country


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