Behind the Numbers

Entries Tagged as 'Taxes and Tax Cuts'

Don’t throw taxes under the bus

April 15th, 2014 · · Ontario, public services, Taxes and Tax Cuts

As Ontario inches toward a potential spring election showdown, Premier Kathleen Wynne is making clear that she wants public transit to become the ballot box question.

That’s heartening, because there is majority public support for greater transit investments after too many years of political and traffic gridlock.

But it looks like she’s throwing needed new taxes under the bus in the process.

In her most recent announcement, Wynne committed to $29 billion in transit and transportation improvements over the next 10 years.

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The political fight for Ontario’s middle class

March 20th, 2014 · · Ontario, Poverty and Income Inequality, Taxes and Tax Cuts

“Middle class” is the new “working Ontario families.” Every second speech and press release here contains it now. – Adrian Morrow, Globe and Mail reporter, Queen’s Park, Twitter, March 20, 2014.

With election fever mounting in Ontario, the political field is quickly crowding around the middle of the income spectrum in search of votes.

And – surprise, surprise – low taxes are dominating the list of enticements.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is insisting she’ll reject any provincial budget that includes asking Ontario’s middle class to pay more taxes or tolls.

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A Toxic Mix: Minimum wage and business tax cuts

February 26th, 2014 · · Employment and Labour, Ontario, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Yesterday, Ontario’s NDP announced an election plank: increase the minimum wage, and at the same time, cut taxes for small business.

The gist of their proposal:

a) a 33% tax cut for small businesses and

b) a 56 cent minimum wage increase over and above what the current government has already committed

I have no squabble with the minimum wage increase. Sure, I wish it were higher, as we proposed to the Minimum Wage Advisory Panel back in November. The problem comes when a wage increase is coupled with a tax cut. This sets an extremely dangerous precedent. It buys into the rhetoric that minimum wage increases are bad for business and governments need to mitigate the damage.

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We’re Splitsville on Income Splitting…Now What?

February 14th, 2014 · · Alternative Federal Budget, Child Care, Satire, Taxes and Tax Cuts, Uncategorized

Well, that was awkward.

Oh, sorry—I’m not talking about how the federal government, in a remarkable display of self-satire, cut short debate on the Fair Elections Act (or as I like to call it: “Democracy 2.0: Abridged too far”).

And, tempting as it is, I’m not hinting at the recent PBO analysis that demonstrates, directly contradicting the Treasury Board’s 18 days estimate, how sick leave in the Federal public service is virtually identical to the 11 days per year that private sector workers take.

Nor am I referring to the Federal Budget’s youth internship programs that, at best, address the needs of 1% of unemployed youth.

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Will income-splitting’s politics trump its lousy economics?

February 14th, 2014 · · Poverty and Income Inequality, Taxes and Tax Cuts

This piece was first published in the Globe and Mail’s Economy Lab.

You could hear the sound of jaws dropping across the nation this week when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, in response to a question from a journalist, cast doubt on the idea of income-splitting for young families, something his party has been promising since March 28, 2011.

The idea – which would allow the higher-earning spouse to transfer income to their lower-earning spouse in order to reduce their total tax hit – provoked controversy right from the start. But it became an increasingly hard sell as economists and think tanks from across the political spectrum lined up in agreement: Income-splitting costs too much for something that is worse than doing nothing.

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The uncomfortable truth behind deficit politics

February 10th, 2014 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Ontario, public services, Taxes and Tax Cuts

In the lead up to Budget 2014, the Wynne government is caught in a transition between two mutually exclusive messages: the doom and gloom fiscal narrative her predecessors handed her and the end of austerity narrative her government floated with its Fall 2013 economic update.

What makes the story even more complex is that, with a minority government, Wynne doesn’t have the luxury of time to set up the basis for that new narrative.

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Alternative Federal Budget 2014: Striking a better balance

February 5th, 2014 · · Alternative Federal Budget, Economy & Economic Indicators, Federal Budget, Income Inequality

The following remarks are excerpted from the 2014 Alternative Federal Budget press conference, featuring Armine Yalnizyan, David Macdonald and Bruce Campbell (February 5th, Parliament Hill).

This year is our 19th Alternative Federal Budget (AFB).

From the beginning, we’ve developed a rigorous economic and fiscal framework for our Budget; and we have acquired an enviable reputation for more accurately forecasting fiscal balances than the  Department of Finance. Organizers of a recent international conference in Berlin recently called our alternative budget the leading example of its kind in the world. Former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page has praised it, as have many academic economists.

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PotashCorp Projects Low Royalties

February 1st, 2014 · · Saskatchewan, Taxes and Tax Cuts

The following commentary was quoted on page D1 of yesterday’s Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post:

Thursday’s fourth-quarter report indicates that PotashCorp paid “provincial mining and other taxes” of $194 million on potash sales of $3 billion in 2013. In other words, Saskatchewan’s resource surcharge and potash production tax amounted to just 6.5% of the value of potash sold.

Adding the basic Crown royalty (which PotashCorp includes in “cost of goods sold”) and subtracting New Brunswick potash suggests that Saskatchewan is collecting no more than a dime per dollar of potash extracted from the province.

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Permissive Parenting: Are We Raising a Generation of Corporate Brats?

January 20th, 2014 · · Capitalism, corporations, Satire, Taxes and Tax Cuts

When it comes to parenting, everyone’s an expert. And society loves to jump all over the latest media-feted example of overly indulgent parenting of kids of all ages—from toddlers to millennials.

Sure, all parents make mistakes, and all kids have meltdowns (some of which might have, admittedly, been handled better).

But it seems to me that even the worst examples of permissive parenting pale in comparison to the way politicians and pundits coddle, make excuses, and encourage double standards for questionable (even deplorable) behaviour from corporations and their representatives.

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Saying no to the conjurers’ trick of tax cuts

December 17th, 2013 · · Democracy, Ontario, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Alex Himelfarb has had an impressive career in public service. A former professor, author and diplomat, he is probably best known for his service as clerk of the Privy Council for Jean Chretien, Paul Martin, and, briefly, Stephen Harper.

His most recent accomplishment is “Tax is Not a Four Letter Word”, a collection of essays by various authors including the CCPA’s Trish Hennessy, Jim Stanford and Hugh Mackenzie. Alex co-edited the book with his son Jordan, Opinion Editor for the Toronto Star.

The CCPA Ontario’s Jennifer Story recently interviewed Alex about the book, and his desire to get Canadians thinking differently about taxes.

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