Behind the Numbers

Entries Tagged as 'Taxes and Tax Cuts'

$15 child care: Canada’s hottest new political pledge?

October 15th, 2014 · · Alberta, Child Care, Gender Equality, Income Inequality, Maritime Provinces, Poverty and Income Inequality, public services, Quebec, Taxes and Tax Cuts

As Canada’s Twitter elite (economists, pundits, partisans) broke out into a virtual policy brawl over yesterday’s NDP national affordable child care pledge, I couldn’t help but think the party might have hit a political sweet spot.

Of course there were the typical Twitter arguments between Liberals and New Democrats that break out every time one of them makes a political pledge.

But another line of argumentation unfolded on my Twitter news feed – one designed to exploit class tensions. The argument advanced by a few well-off Twitterati asserts that universally accessible, affordable programs, like child care, aren’t progressive because rich people can afford to pay for these services themselves.

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You say tomato, I say fish: or, why we we treat property taxes differently

October 9th, 2014 · · Ontario, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Recently, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business received some media attention for their report on the relationship between residential and business property taxes in Ontario.

While a step up from the norm (this report is based on some actual data as opposed to a survey of the views of its members) that the CFIB would whinge about taxes is not new, nor is the fact that their results are misleading and contradictory.

Essentially, the CFIB makes one point: that business (commercial and industrial) property tax is higher than residential property tax.

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Austerity 2.0: Kinder and gentler, but a cut is still a cut

October 1st, 2014 · · Employment and Labour, Ontario, public services, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Here in Ontario, we have glimpsed the future, and it looks a lot like Austerity 2.0.

That’s what Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s mandate letters set out for her cabinet last week.

On the one hand, the premier is instructing her ministers to invest – in poverty reduction, transit and transportation improvements, and (hopefully) job creation.

But, with those same letters, ministers are being told to hold the line on spending. Even after two years of her predecessor’s austerity cuts, Wynne has instructed her cabinet to find $250 to $500 million in savings every year until 2017-18 – her target to eliminate the province’s fiscal deficit.

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Why “Corporate Social Responsibility” is a Crock

September 19th, 2014 · · Alternative Federal Budget, Capitalism, corporations, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Back when I was in the MBA program at the University of Alberta in 1984, a wily professor put the cat among the pigeons. He asked us students to consider whether corporations should forget about charity and good works and simply…pay their taxes.

Businesses, he argued, were good at making money, not social welfare. The difficult decisions on which groups of needy citizens, domestic and foreign, to help out should best be left to elected officials (who could be turfed at the next election if we didn’t like their actions.) And, in the field of making life better for those in great need, governments employ people who actually know what they are doing. As I recall, the suggestion met with considerable support among my fellow business students. We were a pretty perceptive bunch back then.

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Tim’s + BK = $ for Canada right? …. Wrong! (in one table)

August 25th, 2014 · · corporations, Economy & Economic Indicators, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Big news today that Burger King, a US company, is planning to buy Tim Horton’s, a Canadian one. This is another in a string of “tax inversion” deals where US corporations move their corporate headquarters from the US to elsewhere to avoid US taxation. They don’t actually change anything or move anyone outside of their accounting fairyland. Instead, they just check some different boxes on their income tax forms and ‘poof’ save millions in taxes.

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How Have Taxes Changed Over the Last Half Century

August 25th, 2014 · · Taxes and Tax Cuts

The Fraser Institute’s annual Consumer Tax Index report generated some media buzz with its outlandish claims about just how much taxes have risen since 1961. Before you get worked up about this, consider that 1961 was over half a century ago, before the time of universal health care that we all benefit from, before the Canada Pension Plan and the Guaranteed Income Supplement that hugely reduced poverty for seniors, before the Canada Child Tax Benefit which is helping lower child poverty (though not enough!).

There are big problems with the Fraser Institute report’s methodology which lead them to grossly overestimate the tax bill of the average Canadian family.

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The Truth Behind Corporate Tax Cuts (in one chart)

August 19th, 2014 · · corporations, Economy & Economic Indicators, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Corporate Canada has reached a milestone in 2014. For the first time ever, it is now hoarding more cash than the national debt. What that means is that in one fell swoop, Canada’s corporations could pay off our entire national debt with just the cash sitting in their banks accounts, nevermind their other assets.

Corporate cash hoarding really ramped up as corporate tax rates were slashed in half from 31% in 1997 to 16% today. Corporate Canada argued in the late 1990s that they’d use that extra cash to build more factories, train more workers and make Canada more productive. Turns out … not so much.

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Taxes: A Conversation Whose Time Has Come

July 30th, 2014 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Ontario, Taxes and Tax Cuts

It’s official.

An adult conversation about taxes is beginning to take shape.

Way back in 2009, CCPA research associate Hugh Mackenzie published an editorial in the Toronto Star entitled “Can we have an adult conversation about taxes?”– a challenge to governments to start looking at their revenue problems in a grown up way.

This week, the Globe and Mail has published an important piece by C.D. Howe Institute Research Fellow Chris Ragan, pointing out, lo and behold, that Ontario has a revenue problem, not a spending problem.

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No Need to Panic over Moody’s Credit Rating for Ontario

July 8th, 2014 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Ontario, Taxes and Tax Cuts

There was a lot of chatter about Ontario’s credit rating last week when, in a not-so-surprising move, Moody’s Corporation changed Ontario’s debt outlook from stable to negative.

Let’s be clear, this was not a downgrade in the credit rating, as some of have suggested. It’s more like the equivalent of a sad face emoticon – one way a credit rating agency has to express displeasure.

It was a statement made one day before the newly elected provincial government was set to deliver its Speech from the Throne – a speech that didn’t waiver from the promises made during the provincial election campaign that yielded this government a majority mandate.

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Time to scrap this relic: Ontario’s 1999 Taxpayer Protection Act

June 24th, 2014 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Ontario, public services, Taxes and Tax Cuts

It seems like every newly elected Premier in Ontario who wins on even a slightly progressive platform feels like the first step in office is to help the boys on Bay Street relax.

And so it is, perhaps, that Premier-elect Kathleen Wynne came out of the gates post-election with two primary (albeit mixed) messages: she’ll promote an activist government but “there’s no new money” for even modest raises in the public sector.

Here’s the thing: a broad swath of commentators agree Wynne managed to do the unexpected by securing a majority government.

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