An Act to amend the Income Tax Act
Bill Morneau Liberal
This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.
This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.
This enactment amends the Income Tax Act to reduce the second personal income tax rate from 22% to 20.5% and to introduce a new personal marginal tax rate of 33% for taxable income in excess of $200,000. It also amends other provisions of that Act to reflect the new 33% rate. In addition, it amends that Act to reduce the annual contribution limit for tax-free savings accounts from $10,000 to its previous level with indexation ($5,500 for 2016) starting January 1, 2016.
- Sept. 20, 2016 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
- April 19, 2016 Failed That it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Finance that, during its consideration of Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, the Committee be granted the power to divide the Bill in order that all the provisions related to the contribution limit increase of the Tax-Free Savings Account be in a separate piece of legislation.
- March 21, 2016 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.
- March 8, 2016 Failed That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, since the principle of the Bill: ( a) fails to address the fact, as stated by the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, that the proposals contained therein will not be revenue-neutral, as promised by the government; (b) will drastically impede the ability of Canadians to save, by reducing contribution limits for Tax-Free Savings Accounts; (c) will plunge the country further into deficit than what was originally accounted for; (d) will not sufficiently stimulate the economy; (e) lacks concrete, targeted plans to stimulate economic innovation; and (f) will have a negative impact on Canadians across the socioeconomic spectrum.”.
September 20th, 2016 / 3 p.m.
Bill Morneau Minister of Finance
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Kingston and the Islands for reminding us of something we know.
The last decade of low growth has been tough for middle-class families. That is why last December we introduced a tax cut for nine million middle-class Canadians. It gives a single person on average $330 more this year and a family on average $540 more this year. It is also why we introduced the Canada child benefit, which gives nine out of ten families $2,300 more this year.
Later today we will be voting on Bill C-2 to formalize these measures. I urge all members in the House to vote in favour of middle-class Canadians and in support of this legislation.
Income Tax Act
September 19th, 2016 / noon
Kevin Lamoureux Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Labrador, which means I only will have 10 minutes to speak to a very important legislation.
This is where the previous Conservative government really lost touch. The Conservatives were out of touch with Canadians and real people, and that it ultimately led to the current Prime Minister. Even before he became the leader of the Liberal Party, he talked about the importance of Canada's middle class. The Prime Minister has been consistent throughout not only his leadership, but even prior to it in saying how important Canada's middle class is to our economy and to Canada's future prosperity. The Conservative government never really understood that. One only needs to look across the way to see how those members have voted on this legislation. I would challenge them to revisit the way they voted on the passage of Bill C-2 at second reading, and listen to what Canadians are telling them. If they are really in touch with Canadians, they will appreciate what Bill C-2 is all about. Not only that, it goes even beyond Bill C-2. It is about Canada's middle class and those who want to become a part of it.
I have been a parliamentarian at the provincial or federal levels now for 25-plus years. Never before have I seen a government so determined to have an impact on Canada's middle class. That is why it is with great enthusiasm that I highly recommend to all members, no matter what their political affiliation, to get behind Bill C-2 and vote in favour of it. If they understand how the economy works, I believe they will recognize how important it is that the middle class be supported. Let me give an example. If a middle class is given a tax break or is enriched, we will have a healthier economy. How does that work? If there is more money in the pockets of average Canadians, that means they have more disposable income to invest in our economy.
There is an immense amount of literature and there are many arguments put forward to tell us that if the middle class has confidence in the economy and they have money in their pockets, they will spend that money. By spending that money, we then enrich and afford small businesses and so many others the opportunity to do that much better.
I find it interesting. Whether from the Conservatives or the New Democrats, and at times we get confused messages coming from those two parties, there seems to be a consistent message in their fight to resist Bill C-2, which I do not quite understand. One of the things they ask us is why the government does not support small businesses. This bill would do more to support Canada's small businesses than anything the previous Harper government did in its ten years. It would put that money back into the pockets of people. By doing that, people would be spend. We can ask small business owners, as I have done, as have many of my colleagues who have canvassed their constituents over the summer in a very real and tangible way. They will tell us that the best thing we can give a small business is not necessarily a tax break, but a consumer. Small business owners want people going into their stores, buying their products and consuming them.
Bill C-2 is all about that. It would give a significant amount of money to Canada's middle class. Ultimately it is not just talk; it was the first piece of legislation that the Prime Minister introduced to the House of Commons, and it was implemented on January 1. Not only did we want to give the middle class that tax break, we also wanted it to take effect as soon as possible. We saw that in the implementation of the government's policy. It was a substantial election platform promise made to Canadians. The Prime Minister and this government are materializing on that promise. We should recognize this valuable legislation. It reflects what Canadians want and is something on which the government is delivering.
Other criticisms on Bill C-2 have nothing to do with the bill. The New Democrats ask about those who make less than the threshold to get the tax break. It is important to recognize that over nine million Canadians will benefit by this tax break. The NDP refuses to acknowledge that this is step one of a number of steps. All my NDP friends need to look at is the Canada child benefit. Some of Canada's poorest families are getting significant increases in child support. We would have to look a long way back before we would see a government taking such a strong social commitment to lifting children out of poverty. Hundreds of thousands of children are being lifted out of poverty because of the Canada child tax benefit. That tax-free money is already being sent to families across this nation.
That is just one aspect to help those with low incomes who want to become part of Canada's middle class. What about the other most vulnerable, our seniors? Some of the most vulnerable seniors are easily identified through the guaranteed income supplement. We saw a significant increase in the last budget for seniors. I believe some of them will receive an additional $900 per year. If people are in a poverty situation and receive the GIS, that $900 is the equivalent of thousands of dollars to individuals making $100,000 per year. It is a significant increase for those vulnerable seniors. Through Bill C-2, they see a government that truly cares and is prepared to invest in Canada's middle class, but we have not forgotten about our most vulnerable such as children and seniors, in particular those who are on the guaranteed income supplement.
We have seen a redistribution of wealth that we have not seen in many decades. The bill is in part made possible because of a new tax for those Canadians making more than $200,000 taxable income per year. There is that expectation from this government. It is making our system that much fairer.
When we look at Bill C-2, I would like to think the commitment to that tax break is being fulfilled here.
I started off by saying that the Conservatives have lost touch. They can demonstrate that they are listening to Canadians by voting in favour of Bill C-2.
Income Tax Act
September 19th, 2016 / 12:15 p.m.
Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB
Mr. Speaker, when we looked at how we could deliver the most effective tax change that would assist Canada's middle class, it was determined that Bill C-2 would be the easiest and most effective way of putting money back into the pockets of Canada's middle class.
If we contrast that to the tax incentive that the Conservatives were talking about in terms of increasing it, there are two distinct approaches. I would argue that our approach is far more direct and that millions of Canadians will benefit by it, which is far greater than what was proposed by the previous government.
Income Tax Act
September 19th, 2016 / 12:15 p.m.
Newfoundland & Labrador
Yvonne Jones Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
Bill C-2 would amend the Income Tax Act. It falls in line with what the Liberal Party said during the election campaign and what the Prime Minister said in subsequent days. Bill C-2 would reduce the personal income tax of many Canadians and allow them to have more money in their pockets. It also introduces new marginal tax increases to people at higher taxable income levels. Why anyone in the House of Commons would not want to support that is beyond me. Bill C-2 would allow more money to be held by families who need it, families in the middle-class tax bracket.
Bill C-2 is a good piece of legislation. It is good because it will help many middle-class families, and many income earners who fall into this bracket, to move forward and do things in their lives that they have not been able to because they were in higher tax brackets, losing more of their money and not being able to catch up.
With Bill C-2, our government is allowing middle-class families and income earners to catch up. We are giving them the break they deserve, and this is what Canadians want. It was a large part of the platform of the Liberal Party of Canada in the election. Canadians had an opportunity to have their voices heard at the ballot box, and they chose to have reforms made to the income tax legislation that would allow the middle class in this country to move forward. That is exactly what we are doing.
We are making changes around direct income tax adjustments and allowing more income tax earners to be in a lesser tax bracket. Higher income earners will pay a little more, which we asked them to do in a friendly way and they agreed. We also introduced the child tax benefit in July of this year. This Liberal government initiative allows more families to gain more money in child care benefits that are tax free. They no longer have to incorporate these benefits as part of their income, which was required by the former government and gave them less money in their pocket.
Our government is making that child care benefit tax free. We are bringing more balance to the child care benefit to ensure that families who need that benefit to care for their children will actually get the benefit. This means that people in the higher income bracket will be eliminated from the child care benefit. They can take comfort in knowing that those with lower incomes who need the money to support their children in their initiatives, schooling, careers, and in their lives, will have a little extra money to do that. This is about bringing more fairness and balance to Canadians right across the country.
The other thing we have done to complement the changes we are proposing in the Income Tax Act, besides the child care benefit, is the increase in the guaranteed income supplement for single seniors. This was a huge issue in the election campaign from aging individuals in our country who felt they needed an increase in their supplement to allow them to support themselves, especially widows and widowers. We introduced that benefit, which is going to help them substantially.
We also made improvements to the employment insurance program. We expanded it to include regions that were the hardest hit in the country at the time, including Newfoundland and Labrador, the province in which I live, and also Alberta. These two provinces have been going through huge transitions.
In addition to the income tax breaks, the child care benefits, and the increase in the guaranteed income supplement, we provided a reprieve for workers who have found themselves unemployed. We were able to make changes to the employment insurance program to help them in a difficult time.
However, we also need to look at how we are investing in capital infrastructure, which complements the strategy of where the government is going in lifting up people in our country and ensuring there is a greater balance.
When we look around the country today, we see in the first year of our mandate that we have already been investing money in transit, transportation, housing, and infrastructure, which the country has needed for a very long time. This is not just an investment for today but ensuring economic prosperity for the regions in which we are investing this money. That in itself is creating new opportunity and new jobs for people in many regions of the country, and they are seeing the benefits very quickly. They are seeing it in their homes, their pockets, and in their communities. I think that is very important.
The changes we are making to the income tax legislation, as I said, will ensure that those people who were at a personal income tax rate of over $45,000 a year will drop from 22% taxation to 20.5%. We will also introduce a new personal marginal tax rate of 33%, which will be for those with taxable income in excess of $200,000 a year.
The opposition members are critical because they know that what we are doing is right. It is the right direction to take. They also know that what we are doing is benefiting families. They had the opportunity to do this but chose not to. They chose to distribute the investments of the country in a different way. They provided more income relief for wealthy income earners than they did for low and middle-class income earners. We have chosen a different route. Our route is creating a better balance for Canadians right across the country.
I represent a riding that falls in the middle income level. I define that middle income level as people who make $40,000 to $45,000 a year to $100,000 a year. They are the people who work in our factories, mines, hydro power projects, schools, hospitals, firefighting and policing services. These are the middle-class earners of Canada.
We are saying to them that we recognize that over the last 10 years they have been falling behind and that we are now going to allow them an opportunity to start catching up, be a stronger part of the middle class, and ensure that their families have that opportunity. We are doing it through our income tax reductions, child care benefit, guaranteed income supplement to seniors, and our investment infrastructure programs, which are helping communities, businesses, and Canadians right across the country.
I would suggest that there is no member of Parliament that has any reason or rationale not to support the changes we are proposing to allow middle-class families to have more money in their pockets.
Income Tax Act
September 19th, 2016 / 12:30 p.m.
Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to this important bill and to welcome all members back to the House on the first day of the resumption of Parliament. I hope all of my colleagues had a good summer and are ready to get back to work on behalf of Canadians in all of our ridings.
Bill C-2 received first reading in the House on December 9, 2015, following the adoption of a ways and means motion. At that time the New Democratic Party voted in favour of Bill C-2 at second reading in order to be able to propose our amendments to make the bill progressive and actually conform to the rhetoric that accompanied it both during the election and in the House at that time.
Despite the support of various stakeholders, our amendments at committee were rejected. Therefore, we cannot support the bill at third reading as it currently stands and will be opposing the bill.
Bill C-2 amends certain provisions of the Income Tax Act, such as the tax credit for gifts, taxation on income splitting, the tax payable by a non-testamentary trust, the refundable tax on investment income, private corporations, the tax on assessable dividends, the limit on TFSAs or tax-free savings accounts, and most important, the tax rates Canadians pay on their income in this country.
The New Democrats stated our position on the two significant elements of Bill C-2: the amendment on the income tax rates and the amended TFSA limit. Our approach was careful and principled then, and it is careful and thoughtful now. Although we support the government's proposal to limit the TFSA contributions to $5,500, we cannot accept the amendments of the Liberal government to the tax rates, which will primarily benefit the wealthiest.
Let me put this in some context. After almost a decade of poor economic growth and misguided management by the previous Conservative government, working-class and middle-class Canadians and their families are working harder than ever, yet falling further behind. What Canada needs now is a government that will fight against this pattern and this direction, against growing inequalities. However, we find, when we analyze the provisions of the bill and the way the government is using tax rates, that the Liberals will do just the opposite.
The Liberals have continually said they have a plan to help Canadians, middle class and otherwise. They promised change: rapid, urgent, and positive change. However, since they came to power, the Liberals have largely ignored Canada's real middle class, and certainly, as I will show hon. members with numbers, they have absolutely ignored Canada's working class and low-income earners with the bill.
Bill C-2 should have been the Liberals' opportunity to move from rhetoric to action. Unfortunately, that is not what happened. The Liberals' tax plan gives nothing to 60% of Canadians. I listened carefully to my friend from Winnipeg on the other side, who invited us to take the bill to Canada's next election. When two-thirds of Canadians do not receive a red penny from these tax changes, and when they see that people earning more than $89,000 in this country receive the lion's share of these tax cuts while over 17 million Canadians do not receive a cent, I would be happy to take this into the election and debate my hon. friend on who the bill really benefits.
The government is proving every day to be one of celebrity, one of rhetoric, one of spin. Let us look at something surprising. Let us look at facts. Let us look at the numbers. The government is proposing to reduce the second personal income tax rate in this country from 22% to 20.5% and to increase the tax rate to those earning more than $200,000 from 29% to 33%.
This is how Canada's tax rates will look as a result of the bill. If people make $45,282 or less of taxable income, the current rate is 15% and the new rate would be 15%. They receive zero tax breaks from the bill. If people make between $45,282 and $90,563, the next bracket of taxable income, they get a tax cut of 1.5%. From $90,563 to $140,388, the tax rate is the same. From $140,388 to $200,000, the tax rate is the same. For more than $200,000, as I say, the tax rate would go from 29% to 33%.
An analysis of this Liberal tax plan reveals that it is in fact the wealthiest Canadians who will benefit the most from the tax reduction program. The Prime Minister's tax plan excludes Canadians who are not in the second income tax bracket, the large majority of Canadians who earn less than $45,000.
No one has to listen to me and we certainly should not listen to the spin doctors on the government side of the House, so let us see what the parliamentary budget officer says. The PBO's office said it is estimated that 17.9 million Canadians who will file income tax returns in 2016 fall within the first tax bracket. They have taxable income and will report taxable income of less than $45,282, and will, therefore, fall below the threshold set by the Liberals to benefit from any tax adjustment. Therefore, the Liberal tax proposal excludes the lowest 60% of wage earners, anybody making under $45,282.
According to the latest statistics available from Statistics Canada, the average Canadian income is $40,000, while the median income is $31,000. That means 50% of Canadians make $31,000 or less. Canadians in this country most in need, those whose incomes are equal to or less than the median or average incomes, will not benefit in any way from this Liberal plan. In fact, only people in the first, second, or third income deciles will see a drop in their taxes.
My hon. colleague on the other side of the House from Winnipeg North also mentioned that the best thing we can do for small businesses is to provide them with consumers. Every economist in the world will say that the people who spend the most of their disposable incomes are the working poor. They cannot afford to save. Every dollar given to a working poor Canadian is a dollar that will be circulated in the economy and spent at every business in our communities, yet the government has not given a penny to two-thirds of Canadians to spend in their communities or in small businesses. Why the government thinks that this proposal is going to stimulate small business, when two-thirds of Canadians will not have a penny in their pockets to spend in their communities or in small businesses, is beyond me.
Let us look at it the other way. Canadians whose income ranks in the highest 30% will be the main beneficiaries, while the wealthiest 10% of Canadians will pocket most of the money from these tax reductions. Even with the income tax increase for those earning more than $200,000, the Liberal plan still offers benefits that are three times higher for people earning $210,000 or more a year than for people earning $50,000.
An income tax reduction for the middle class should benefit a larger proportion of Canadians, in New Democrats' view. That is not the case with the bill. Full-time workers earning less than $23 an hour, which in my riding of Vancouver Kingsway is most people, will get no tax reduction, while those earning $100 an hour will get the maximum tax reduction. That is a funny middle-class tax plan from the Liberals.
Using numbers from the Government of Canada's job bank, let us turn again to another objective source that has illustrated who would benefit from these changes.
An office worker who has a median hourly rate of pay of $19 an hour would get zero from this tax plan. A hairdresser who has a median income of $13.25 an hour would get zero from this tax plan. A fish plant worker who averages $12.50 an hour in median income would get zero from this tax plan. A bank teller who averages $17.20 an hour in median income would get zero from this tax plan. A school bus driver who averages $20 an hour would get zero from the Liberals. A child care worker who makes $17.35 an hour in median income would get zero from the Liberals. The Prime Minister's nanny, who makes $18.20 an hour, would get zero from the Liberals. Even the Prime Minister's assistant chef, who makes $20 to $21.68 an hour, would get nothing from the Liberals.
Let us see who does get money from the Liberal tax plan. A lawyer who averages a median hourly income of $53.91 would get $679.22 courtesy of the Liberals.
A member of Parliament, who is hardly middle class when we make $170,000 a year base income, will receive $679.22. Let us stop and contrast that. A member of Parliament gets money back from the government, almost $700, and officer workers, child care workers, and school bus drivers get nothing.
That is the proposal from the Liberal government to make Canada's tax system fairer. I do not believe that any Canadian who hears those contrasts will agree that it makes our tax system any fairer.
Contrary to what the Liberals claimed during the election campaign, the revenues generated by the tax increase for the very wealthy will not be enough to finance their plan.
I notice that the Liberals consistently refuse to answer questions put by the Conservative opposition and the New Democrats to actually hold them accountable for the promise they made to Canadians during the election.
On this side of the House, at least, we believe that candidates ought to tell the truth to Canadians during elections. What the Liberals said to Canadians was that if they were elected, the tax cuts for the middle class would be revenue neutral and would be paid for by a tax increase for the wealthiest Canadians. They told Canadians that directly.
After the election, it turned out that the Liberals were out by billions of dollars. It has been estimated that some $7 billion of excess money will have to be borrowed to pay for the tax cut, because in fact, the Liberal math was wrong.
In terms of Vancouver Kingsway, I have done my homework. According to Statistics Canada figures from 2010, in my riding roughly 70% of individual income earners will see absolutely no benefit from this cut, because they do not report income over $45,282. In my riding, we have 25,635 people who reported income of over $45,000 and 58,480 who reported income of under $45,282. The median income in my riding of Vancouver Kingsway is $22,614, and the average income is $30,639.
I think my riding is typical of most members' ridings across this country. Let us forget the spin about the middle class and the spin by the Liberal government that everyone is going to do better. The numbers tell the truth, and that is that most Canadians will actually not see a dime from this tax proposal, but wealthy Canadians will.
I want to just turn to something that has not been mentioned, which is the gender impact. It is well known in this country that women, still in 2016, earn significantly less money than men do. It is well known in this country that women who work full time earn less than their male counterparts.
The numbers I found for Vancouver Kingsway bear that out. The median income for men in my riding is $25,532. It is $20,303 for women. It is a full $5,000 less. What that means is that this bill, which exacerbates the inequity between wealthy Canadians and poorer, working, and middle-class Canadians, is going to have a disproportionately bad impact on women.
I was at a conference a couple of days ago when the Prime Minister stood up and said, “Poverty is sexist.” That is true, but then his government, in this House, puts a bill in that will change the tax rates in this country that will disproportionately give advantages to men and disproportionately harm women because of the skewed nature of the tax changes.
I want to mention the changes to the TFSA contribution limit. On this, the NDP does agree with the government. The Conservatives wanted to raise the annual TFSA limit from $5,500 to $10,000. The Liberals, to their credit, campaigned against that during the election, and the New Democrats agreed with that. There are a number of reasons for that. The bottom line is basically that the TFSA, by increasing the amount of money individual Canadians can shelter from taxes, is a cost to the treasury. A cost to the treasury means that it takes revenue from the government needed to pay for much-needed programs that the New Democrats will fight for in this Parliament, like pharmacare, child care, and health care.
Moreover, it has been shown that because investors in our country can take already established investments and shift them to TFSAs, most people, by and large, putting money into TFSAs are not making new investments. They are simply shifting investments.
Finally, I do not know too many Canadians who have an extra $10,000 this year they can put into TFSAs.
I want to comment a bit about the New Democrats' plan and what we would do.
If we really want to make a difference in the country, we have to make an adjustment to the first tax rate. What the New Democrats proposed during the election, and what we suggest to this government, was that we would reduce the income tax rate for the first $45,282 of income from 15% to 14%. That way, 83% of taxpayers would see a change in the amount of tax payable. According to the parliamentary budget officer, nine million Canadians would benefit from this proposal who do not benefit from the proposal of the current government. This solution would not only benefit more taxpayers but the cost difference would be minimal. The difference, we would argue, could be easily recovered through a very slight half-percentage point increase in taxes for large corporations.
I would point out that the Liberals are indistinguishable from the Conservatives on this score. Canada already has an extremely low corporate tax rate of 15% for large, profitable corporations, and neither of those two parties proposes altering that at all. If we were to increase that by half a point, from 15% to 15.5%, for companies like the Royal Bank and Imperial Oil, large profitable companies that are making a lot of money in the country, we could actually put more money in the hands of working-class Canadians, who would then circulate that money in the economy and help stimulate small business, which, the New Democrats believe, deserve a corporate tax cut. That is not what the Liberals and Conservatives believe, though.
David Macdonald at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Nicolas Zorn of l'Institut du Nouveau Monde, Stephen Gordon, an economics professor at Laval University, and Luc Godbout, professor and holder of the research chair on taxation and public finance at the University of Sherbrooke, are all absolutely ad idem on this issue. They have all crunched the numbers, and they all say the same thing: this amendment to Canada's tax laws would benefit the wealthy, would do nothing for the poorest Canadians, and is bad economic policy.
The New Democrats will stand in the House and continue to fight against this bad policy and fight for the millions of Canadians who deserve some tax relief and support from the government, as opposed to spin and rhetoric from a government that is more interested in celebrity and style than in actually helping the millions of Canadians from coast to coast to coast who are suffering in this economy.
Income Tax Act
September 19th, 2016 / 12:45 p.m.
Kevin Lamoureux Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I believe the member is not doing himself or his party a favour in the way he portrays the legislation or the Government of Canada's agenda. The budget came forward and Bill C-2 came forward. Bill C-2 specifically deals with a tax cut, between the brackets of $45,000 and $90,000, from 22% to 20.5%. It would also implement a tax increase, for those who make over $200,000, from 29% to 33%. What we are going to be voting on is that aspect.
The member wanted to focus on the fact that the Government of Canada has left out others. We see in the budget the Canada child benefit, which helps most of the individuals he says the Liberal government has fallen short on. His facts are just not correct, when we look at the budget combined with the legislation. The issue is whether the member supports the middle class getting a tax decrease and those making more than $200,000 an increase. That is the essence.
Income Tax Act
September 19th, 2016 / 12:55 p.m.
Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be back in the House. I hope everyone took the time this summer to reconnect with their constituents to find out what was happening in their ridings. I also hope they took a bit of time to enjoy our very short summers in Canada.
It is interesting that we are back here today debating Bill C-2. I noted an article yesterday in which it said that the Liberal government had the most unproductive Parliament in two decades in what it had managed to move forward with. Perhaps Bill C-2 is an example.
Bill C-2 was introduced in December of last year and we are now at third reading. That really illustrates the Liberals' inability to move what they say are important pieces of legislation through the House. However, I would rather have no legislation than bad legislation, which Bill C-2 is.
Because it has been so long, as a quick refresher, Bill C-2 contains a number of measures such as the change in the marginal tax rate, the TFSA reduction in limit, and of course some other things. There are general clean-up measures dealing with such things as charitable donation tax credits and income earned by trust, among others. Clearly what we will hear from the debate is that those clean-up measures are relatively uncontroversial. Really the issues around the marginal tax rate and the TFSAs are the most problematic.
Again today the debate has predominantly focused so far on the Liberals proudly proclaiming that their middle-class tax cut was a significant move forward. However, the Liberals really forgot to tell Canadians two very important things. One is that they never have clearly defined the middle class. I think most Canadians, as they listen to this, might be thinking that as the middle class, members of Parliament will see $700 where people who earn $23 an hour will see nothing.
I will be sharing my time, Mr. Speaker, with the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
We have a very poorly defined middle class, and I do not think many of us would really call members of Parliament middle class who are deserving of the biggest tax cut. As Conservatives, we certainly support tax cuts in whatever form, but the bigger problem is that tax cut and what it would actually do. The government had a big oops in its math. The Liberals went to Canadians and said they were going to give this tax cut and that it was going to be revenue neutral because they were going to increase taxes for higher income earners. That was the commitment and the promise the Liberals made to Canadians. Lo and behold, they are in government and it is “wow, we've made a really big math error in that particular calculation”. That is an $8.9 billion error that will be over six years. The mistake the Liberals have made is over $1 billion a year.
We also had a commitment that they would have a $10 billion deficit. It has gone to $30 billion now. This is just one of the measures that has added to the deficit that will create problems into the future.
This is not a promise kept. This is a promise that has been broken to Canadians because it is not revenue neutral. It has been said in the past that debt is deferred taxes. For the $600 or $700 to someone who earns $160,000 a year, their children and grandchildren will have to pay. To be quite frank, the government is irresponsible to put that kind of debt and deficit on our children and grandchildren when it is not necessary. It is quite shameful.
The other piece I want to focus some comments on is the tax-free savings account. There really is no justification for the way the Liberals have structured their marginal tax reduction. They have reduced the ability to contribute to a tax-free savings account from $10,000 down to $5,000 plus a bit of change.
Let me talk about what the tax-free savings account is all about. This is from a Department of Finance document that looks at tax expenditures and evaluations.
Ensuring that the tax system provides meaningful incentives to save supports a more efficient allocation between current and future consumption. In particular, the accumulation of personal savings allows Canadians to improve their living standards and better align income and consumption when planning for important life events such as retirement [or purchasing a house]....[It is] increasing the funds available for capital investment, which leads to a higher capacity to produce goods and services.
The evidence from the program shows that Canadians have taken advantage of these tax savings opportunities. It is a popular means of saving for Canadians of all ages. I would commend to anyone who is interested in the TFSA and its impact. This is an excellent document, and it certainly talks about the benefits.
What is the Liberals' argument with respect to why they had to reduce the tax-free savings account? They said that it was only benefiting the rich, that not everyone could put money into it and therefore it was not a good thing to do.
There are 440,000 GIS recipients who have put $4.3 billion into their tax-free savings accounts. That gives us a really good example. I think anyone could imagine that living on old age security and the guaranteed income supplement is a challenge for any senior. However, let us say that there are seniors who have a house but really no major means of support. They then sell their houses and have tiny nest eggs that they can put into their tax-free savings accounts and have the interest that they make to support them during their retirement and very difficult times. Having that allocation is a very important mechanism for seniors putting a little from the sale of a house into a GIS, or young people in Vancouver or Toronto. Right now we know how difficult it is for young people to get into the housing market. Therefore, it is a real step backward and a real shame to see the measures the government has taken in that area.
The Liberals do not like allowing us the personal freedom to make choices about our own money. They want to enforce an increase in the Canada pension plan, which will not only enforce increased contributions from individuals but also employers. They like a plan that the government controls. For some reason they are adversely opposed to plans that Canadians control. Perhaps if people do not want to put extra money into the CPP, they see the TFSA as an opportunity to put money into their savings. Therefore, there is not a one size fits all.
I am very concerned that the government is showing a massive predisposition toward spending taxpayer money that it does not have, deficits, debt, and creating a one-size-fits-all government-run program that is not good for meeting the needs of Canadians in all of their diversities.
Income Tax Act
September 19th, 2016 / 1:05 p.m.
Kevin Lamoureux Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, there is a natural question that should be asked when a Conservative member speaks to a tax-reducing legislation. We need to make it very clear that Bill C-2 does give tax relief to millions of Canadians. Traditionally, I would have thought the Conservatives would have supported a tax cut. The core of Bill C-2 is just that: a tax cut to Canada's hard-working middle class and those aspiring to be a part of the middle class.
Therefore, as a member of the Conservative Party, does she not believe she should be supporting tax cuts? I would have thought that would be a given. How does she justify to her constituents that she does not support them getting a tax break?
Income Tax Act
September 19th, 2016 / 1:10 p.m.
Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON
Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I thank the electors of my constituency for this opportunity to represent their interests in the affairs of this nation.
Today we will talk about paying for bad spending, like this legislation, Bill C-2. It is one of the reasons Canada has gone from having a budgetary surplus to having a huge requirement to raise taxes.
The legislation we have before us today is the result of election campaign promises. These measures could easily have been incorporated into the federal budget, but for whatever reason of political expediency that motivates the government, we are dealing with budget measures, but not from the March budget.
Some election promises are made to be broken. Unfortunately for Canadians, the election promises that were broken were the wrong ones, starting with a decision to triple the deficit from $10 billion to $30 billion in each of the government's first three years, with no plan to get Canada out of deficit. Deficits are nothing more than deferred taxes.
The Prime Minister went across the country during the campaign saying, we'll take the money from rich and we'll give it to the middle class for income tax cuts, and don't worry, it will not come out of the Treasury. It will be a revenue-neutral bill. The Prime Minister repeatedly and directly stated that he would introduce a $3 billion tax cut for the middle class, paid for by a $3 billion increase on high-income earners. The fact of the matter is that, as usual, the Liberals got their numbers completely wrong. There is no such thing as a revenue-neutral Liberal tax cut.
Now Canadians understand why the measures in the legislation before us today were sliced out of where they should have been, in the March 22 federal budget. That is because someone's tax cut on the one hand must be paid by someone else on the other hand, Canadians now realize that the title of the budget document was misnamed. It should really have read, “Paying for Bad Spending”.
By the Minister of Finance's own admission, when he is not in denial of the fact that our Conservative government left the nation's finances in a budgetary surplus, there will be a revenue shortfall of almost $2 billion from the measures contained in this legislation. Where will that money come from to pay for this campaign promise? It has to come from existing revenues, or the government will create an even larger tax increase requirement.
Starting April 1, the federal government is spending $444.4 million to hire a new army of tax collectors to go after average Canadians, with a five-year quota of $2.6 billion. For anyone who cannot afford to hire an expensive accountant or lawyer to defend themself, or who has so much money that they can afford to use overseas tax shelters, the Liberal government will spend $351.6 million with a five-year collection quota of $7.4 billion to collect so-called tax debt. In round numbers, it will be spending almost $800 million in total to squeeze $10 billion more out of the pockets of Canadians.
The CBC tells us that Montreal-based clothing maker Gildan earned $396 million in profit last year, but paid just over $6 million in taxes, a rate of about 2%. Drug maker Valeant, based in nearby Laval, Quebec, booked $1.1 billion in profit in 2014 but paid only $110 million in tax.
If the plan was to go after companies that use overseas tax shelters to avoid paying their fair share of tax, Canadians would support that. However, rather than paying for the tax changes in Bill C-2 by going after the large corporations that make extensive use of lawyers, accountants, and tax shelters, the Liberal government has targeted campgrounds—not any campgrounds, just the small mom and pop campgrounds that are typically family owned and operated.
The Liberal government even mentioned a number, five employees, on page 220 of the budget, implying that a campground with fewer than five full-time employees is a tax planning scheme. This is the arbitrary Liberal threshold to be considered a small business. Forget that many of these small campgrounds consist of a husband and wife doing all the work, or that the short camping season in Canada is only a season. Someone has to pay for the Liberal campaign promises.
This is what the executive director of a camping organization in Ontario had to say:
Campgrounds are active, labour-intensive recreational businesses that provide an affordable vacationing option for Canadian families and international visitors.
These recent Canada Revenue assessments not only put these small, mostly family-owned businesses at risk, but also sends a terrible signal to the entire industry just days before the 2016 camping season is about to begin....
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has stated that “Requiring five staff to qualify for the small business tax rate is deeply insulting to the entrepreneurs who are often a part of the daily operations of their businesses. It's called the small business tax rate. Being too small should not be a reason to exclude anyone.” It is called paying for bad spending.
The Minister of Finance in his opening remarks regarding Bill C-2 stated the government consulted widely before introducing the measures in his legislation. He claimed to have asked Canadians directly how the government could support them and grow the economy. The Minister of Finance even claimed to have met people from all walks of life, including small business owners. He obviously skipped meeting with any small business entrepreneurs who operate family campgrounds.
As much as I know that the government likes to say it consults Canadians, here are a few comments from average Canadians on how they feel about the federal government going after small family-owned campgrounds to pay for its wild spending.
If a company with fewer than five employees is not a small company, then what is, besides campgrounds that are still reeling from having to charge property tax on seasonal trailers? Surely the CRA must have bigger fish to fry.
There is this comment: “I am not running a passive small business. I am running a business. One that I work seven days a week. My campground is host to campers from Germany, Holland, France, Switzerland and darn near every state and province in North America. Passive I am not. I am however the owner of a small business and I resent that you suggest otherwise in order to rob me or any campground of more tax dollars. I do not believe that small family-run businesses should pay more tax than billion dollar corporate businesses. I, along with my family, have camped most of my life and I'd like to continue doing so.”
As tax collection targets of the Liberal government, imagine the shock of family campground owners when they receive collection letters telling them they no longer are considered small businesses and owe tens of thousands of dollars in reassessed taxes. A campground owner in southwestern Ontario recently received a collection letter stating that he owed $250,000 in reassessed taxes. Another campground owner received a notice of assessment for 2013-14 showing that $36,000 more in taxes was due, plus $250 per month in interest charges alone. Campgrounds will be closing. This move to go after small businesses like family campgrounds is not unexpected.
The second campaign promise to be broken by the Liberal government after breaking the first by blowing the deficit sky-high was to renege on its promise to lower the small business tax rate. The Prime Minister demonstrated his contempt for small business by claiming that small businesses were nothing more than tax scams. He believes they are set up as a way to avoid paying taxes. That comment is an insult to the husband and wife team who work 60 to 70 hour weeks to manage a family campground during the short summer camping season. Camping is family time, getting kids off video games and out into nature and the great outdoors. The last affordable family vacation will now be taken away from Canadians.
Since I brought this change in taxation policy to the attention of the people who would be the most adversely affected by it, I am pleased to recognize the many individual campground owners, as well as the many municipalities, who have expressed their support for any action taken to rescind this unfair taxation.
We are supposed to be more active. What better way to be healthy than spending the day outdoors? Campgrounds are an escape for people who live in urban areas. Not everyone can afford a cottage. These businesses need to be recognized for what they are: small family run businesses. Small business is the backbone of our nation. Canada was built on appreciation for the great outdoors. The government should stop over-taxing and allow our kids to enjoy themselves in nature.
It is truly unfortunate that the first budget of the new regime should be so wrong for Canada. I urge the Liberal Party to really think about the harm it is doing to Canada with its policy of high deficits and raising taxes.
Income Tax Act
September 19th, 2016 / 1:25 p.m.
Dianne Lynn Watts South Surrey—White Rock, BC
This legislation slashes the contribution limit for the tax-free savings account from $10,000 to $5,500. The rationale behind this cut, as we have heard many times from the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance, and other ministers is that the tax-free savings account is only for wealthy Canadians, and no one has an extra $10,000 just laying around.
This rationale could not be further from the truth. Seniors are saving for their retirements, students are saving to pay for their educations, new parents are saving for their children, and young entrepreneurs are saving to start a business.
In my riding of South Surrey—White Rock, it is the seniors who will be hit the hardest by the legislation. Constituents in my riding overwhelmingly do not support this change. A report from the parliamentary budget officer back in 2015 stated that middle-income earners and Canadian seniors were benefiting the most from the tax-free savings account. This report also stated that raising the limit to $10,000 would benefit middle-income earners and seniors even more in the long term. This is exactly what the Conservative government did. We raised the limit to $10,000 to benefit seniors and the middle class.
However, I hear from the Liberal government that the tax-free savings account, again, only benefits the rich and therefore needs to be cut in half. It is the same thing with small business. We heard from the Liberal government that small business is only a tax haven for the rich. I cannot help but wonder where and how it is getting its information, because it is contrary to the parliamentary budget officer, contrary to experts in the banking industry, and frankly contrary to plain old common sense.
Let us talk about the so-called tax cut for the middle class. Again, we heard over and over again that the tax cut, which is also included in this bill, would be revenue neutral and would not cost Canadians anything. This statement is simply not true. The finance minister has since amended his comments and stated that his plan is not revenue neutral, and in fact it will cost Canadian taxpayers at least $1 billion. However, in a report from the parliamentary budget officer, it is stated that the figure is $1.7 billion.
Now we have gone from revenue neutral to costing the taxpayers $1.7 billion. However, it gets even better for taxpayers and those who are losing their jobs. The Liberal government told taxpayers that for a tiny deficit of $10 billion, infrastructure projects would be built and the economy would flourish. Again, that is not true.
From a balanced budget with a $1-billion surplus, the condition that we left our finances in, as stated numerous times by the parliamentary budget officer, the Liberal government burned through the $1 billion, racked up a $30-billion deficit, and we are still waiting for the infrastructure projects.
The Liberals have decreased the ability for seniors, middle-class families, and students to save, and increased the debt burden on every Canadian through reckless spending, as well as removing the tax credits for post-secondary tuition, school textbooks, and for sports and arts programs for children. They also increased the contributions to the CPP, and $6.7 billion has been spent or committed overseas. Just today, the Prime Minister announced over $450 million to the UN. That raises the total to over $7.1 billion.
Further to that, recently announced by the Prime Minister, an eight-month-old Asian infrastructure investment bank initiated by the Chinese government will see approximately 2.9 billion of Canadian taxpayer dollars for infrastructure built in Asia. It is important to note that all of these figures are only what is publicly being pledged. As we know, not all government spending is announced publicly.
There is only one question to ask: what tax increases will the Liberal government implement in order to pay off the debt? It will have to be paid off. I remind the government that there is only one taxpayer and it is not their money.
Income Tax Act
September 19th, 2016 / 1:35 p.m.
Kevin Waugh Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK
Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great opportunity today to speak to Bill C-2. Spend, spend, spend is what the government has as its agenda, and spend it did. In the last 94 days since we last sat in the House, the government has given out roughly $8 billion. Canadians from coast to coast to coast are realizing that the government's agenda will send our country into massive debt. Debt comes with a cost, and it appears that the well educated and those with high-paying jobs will pay the brunt of these budget announcements.
A poll released earlier this month shows that nearly half of all Canadians are draining their bank accounts between each two-week pay period. Many are adding to their debt levels, which as we know are very dangerous. There are four in ten Canadians who say that they spend it all between pay periods, so even a small increase in interest rates would spell disaster for many Canadians families. We have enjoyed record levels of low interest rates, but sooner or later they will go up. We are obviously not prepared for this. Live and spend for today, but tomorrow brings paybacks, and governments should always be aware of that.
We have talked long and hard about not spending our children's and grandchildren's future in this place, so then why are we doing it? We should be reminded about the economic policies of the Liberal government some 30 years ago, which increased taxes, debt, and bailouts. It took subsequent governments 30 years to recover from that reckless spending. Why is the current government repeating the same policies? It took a generation to recover from that.
To look back in history, it was our previous government that restored the pay increase to the middle class by an average of $5,000 per year. Those living in Ontario appear to be far more pessimistic than the rest of the country as a whole. We should not be surprised about that, because it too is a Liberal government, and like the one in Ottawa, Liberals love to spend, spend, spend. Taxes will eventually have to be paid for down the road.
It has been an especially dark summer in my province of Saskatchewan. We have had many layoffs, shutdowns, and takeovers in the headlines of our major newspapers in the province. Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems laid off 150 Saskatoon employees in July. The company later said it is going to close the plant permanently and sell off all of the assets. In July, workers at Mosaic's Colonsay potash mine were told that the entire mine would be shut down until January 3, 2017. The company said it hoped to call back workers, but there is no guarantee. In late July, I drove by that mine in Colonsay, once hosting well over 200 to 300 stalls for parking, and there were five vehicles in the parking lot. It has affected the entire area, as businesses surrounding the Colonsay mine have been hit hard with the shutdown. Many were forced to cut hours or lay off staff.
The entire potash industry in this country is nervous, with the possible merger of Potash Corp. and Agrium that was announced earlier this month. Vecima, another company in Saskatoon, announced massive layoffs in July. The decline in the construction industry has hit our province especially hard. The largest decline in construction employment was in the Saskatoon metropolitan area where the employment for three months ending in August was 3,200 lower than it was the year before.
There were 42,000 unemployed in the province of Saskatchewan during August. That is an increase of 3,400 from the month before, and 5,200 more than the number of unemployed in August of 2015. EI recipients jumped 19% alone in the month of June.
Doug Elliott, who is the publisher of Sask Trends Monitor, said that people were unable to find work and simply stopped looking entirely. Let us think about this. The incentive to work among the current unemployment ranks is lost in our country.
Now we hear that the government will move forward on its carbon tax. Like it or not, we are going to have a carbon tax in our country. There was no agreement at all from the Vancouver meetings that were held in March, and we actually missed the September 2 deadline. Now, like it or not, we are going to have a carbon tax, because we were promised one. What happened to the collaboration that was promised by the government almost a year ago?
Employers are feeling the pressure in oil and gas producing provinces like mine in Saskatchewan, along with Alberta, and Newfoundland and Labrador. The budget did nothing to improve their situation at all. Once considered the backbone of Canadian economy, these provinces were left to fend for themselves with the current federal Liberal government.
I might add, changes coming to the CPP would add more cost to businesses at a time when they are scrambling in this weak economy, yet the federal government shows no mercy for business and the middle class. According to a new Ipsos survey conducted on behalf of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, eight of ten people want the government to consult with the public before going ahead with its CPP expansion plans. Therefore, if the CPP reforms mean that businesses freeze or even cut wages, employees will simply oppose these reforms. Working Canadians do not support changes to the CPP if it has the consequence of freezing or even diminishing their salaries at all. This makes sense, since we all know Canadians are feeling the pinch in this economy right now.
Today the Minister of Finance confirmed that the economy will create 1,050 fewer jobs per year over 10 years than would have been the case without the higher premiums. Changes to the Income Tax Act were, and continue to be, a major concern for entrepreneurs and professionals coast to coast. These are the people who are driving our economy. We know that our previous current government left the current government with a surplus. In the last 94 days alone, the federal Liberal government has gone through nearly $8 billion of announcements, plus the $1.3 billion spent outside of our country.
Our previous Conservative government believed that people needed to save for the future. The popular TFSAs were there for emergencies. This was visionary, as it promoted families to save for the future. In times of uncertainty, like right now, they could withdraw from those TFSAs. In times of prosperity, they could save for the future. By saving now, it would take the burden off the federal government in future years. It could be used to redirect the money to other needed programs.
This summer, I knocked on hundreds of doors in my riding of Saskatoon—Grasswood, and we did a number of barbecues. I was constantly told by people how disappointed they are in the Liberal government. Many professionals said they would simply cut back their hours. Instead of serving the public like they do now for six and seven days a week, they will cut back their hours to three or four days a week. The incentive is gone, and that will make us all pay dearly in the end.
Income Tax Act
June 17th, 2016 / 10 a.m.
Karen Vecchio Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON
Madam Speaker, I am honoured to stand to speak to Bill C-2 once again, and about some of the implications it will have when the bill moves forward.
It is great that we are in the House today debating the bill, because there are many things Canadians need to know about it, and that we as the official opposition have to bring to the attention of the government.
Today I want to start with the tax-free savings account. The current Liberal government has proposed a reduction in the maximum annual amounts Canadians can invest in these accounts. We know this is a tool that has been working for Canadians. Unfortunately, the government does not, on the false pretence that doubling the tax-free savings account only benefits the highest-earning Canadians, rather than just the middle class.
As we talk about this today, we are looking at all of these proposed middle-class tax hikes that we will be seeing for the middle class and for all Canadians.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola. We probably know him as the member of Parliament for the “free the beer” campaign, another great campaign we have done.
I am here to talk about the tax-free savings account and the proposal of the Minister of Finance to move forward with the CPP contributions that the government will be inflicting on all Canadians, especially future generations.
The Liberals proposed middle-class tax cuts, reducing it to 20.5%. It really does sound good when they say they are cutting taxes for the middle class. However, they are forgetting to tell Canadians about all the other things they are going to do. We heard the Minister of Environment in the House this week talking about the carbon tax. We have to recognize that they are going to say they will be reducing taxes for the middle class in order to create more opportunities, provide better savings, and more opportunities for families, but they are not talking about all of these other things they are also proposing.
I am a resident of Ontario. We are already going to see gas prices go up 4¢ a litre, because it was proposed by the Ontario Liberal government. Now we see our federal Liberal government also proposing a carbon tax, a CPP tax, and all these other things. Therefore, although they talk about a middle-class tax bracket at 20.5%, they are not letting all Canadians know that they are actually taxing us in other forms. It really is very unfortunate that they are saying one thing but doing another.
We are not decreasing the taxes when we have backdoor amendments changing the current tax system. For those people living in Ontario, where we see horrible job creation and much unemployment, much like Alberta with the non-support in our energy sector, not only are Canadians not going to have jobs, but they will be paying more, even at the gas pumps. They are going to be paying more in the grocery stores, because we see governments taxing Canadians, whether they are in Ontario, or anywhere in Canada. I have huge concerns about this.
We talked about the tax-fee savings account, which is a vehicle for Canadians to save money. Our Conservative government increased it because we had Canadians saying this was a great vehicle for saving money. By introducing a new threshold for what they could save it gave them the opportunity. Many times, we will hear the government say people are not maximizing it. Now, what it is proposing is “nannyfying” what we are doing in Canada by introducing Canada pension plan increases.
We have a vehicle that currently works, the tax-free savings account, which allows Canadians to save responsibly, and many Canadians are doing so. However, now the Minister of Finance will be touring later on this month, trying to get all of the provinces on board to increase our CPP contributions. We have to recognize that that is not only a vehicle for savings. At the same time, it is a huge burden on small businesses. Those small businesses were looking forward to a decrease in their small business tax. However, the government will not be fulfilling that promise either.
Therefore, what the government will be doing is taking the tax-free savings accounts, which allow Canadians to make the choice on how they want to save their money, and instead introducing a new tax on Canadians and employers through the Canada pension plan, as a nanny state tax.
What is this going to do? We know that when students come out of university, they have high debts. It is something that we should be aware of as Canadians. We are asking our students to go out there and get the proper education they need so that they can make sure they have a brilliant future. They come out of those schools with debt and when they get their first job, not only are they going to have to contribute to the CPP but they will have to double those contributions. We are looking at an additional $3,000 out of their pockets to be put into the CPP.
As a parent, I have no problem because I believe that it is very important for people to save for their future. However, at the same time, what we are doing is having them save for retirement when they can take that money and put it into their student debt, put it into a tax-free savings account, or into the first-time homebuyers plan under the RRSPs and put that money toward their first home. What we have now done is taken away all of those opportunities for Canadians and, as a government, we are saying, “You must put it into the Canada pension plan.”
Although I think saving for retirement is very important, we have to recognize that this is the Canada pension plan. It does not help our current seniors, those seniors who we say are the most vulnerable. It will just be an additional tax. For those students who have come out of Carleton University with these enormous debts, we will see another tax on them. The opportunity for them to save their own money for what they choose is being removed by the current government. These are things that I am extremely concerned with.
The government has talked many times about deficit spending in its campaign promises. I want to talk about the middle class. The middle class we are talking about today will be that group of people, these young families who are currently the middle class, who will wind up with a huge debt. Whether it is the debt from the deficit or from the new CPP contributions or the debt they will have because we will be taking this carbon tax money, will we be using it properly? Those are some huge concerns I have.
I am very much an environmentally friendly person. However, I believe in the stewardship of our land. I think we need to ensure that we recognize that if we are taxing people, this money will actually reduce costs or, as the Liberals are saying, the man-made climate change, or will we just be taking that money and putting it into general revenues and pet projects. Unfortunately, I see the latter, the pet projects, truly being the focus of this climate change plan.
We have this new carbon tax that has now been introduced in the province of Ontario. We will see one at the federal level as well. Average Canadians, the people who will have to pay for this huge deficit in 2016, this line of credit or the 2016 budget, will just see huge debts that they will have to pay. That is a very large concern for me. As I said, I am parent and I have three children currently in post-secondary education. I recognize the costs of education. I am very fortunate to be able to assist with some of those expenses. Not all families can do that. What we have done is once again crippled the middle class by introducing so many different factors in this.
Going back to the tax-free savings account, this is a vehicle, as we have said, and as the government has said many times, to maximize contributions. This party on this side, the official opposition, sese this is an excellent vehicle for people to save money. It gives them the opportunity to put in maximum contributions. Instead, we are rolling that back. We have different institutions and different organizations throughout Canada saying, “We appreciate that increase and we think that's what needs to be done.” Instead, we see a government that is planning on taxing Canadians—tax, tax, tax, and spend, spend, spend. As we go through this, the bottom line is that we are trying to tax ourselves to prosperity. That is not what we should do. We are taking all of this money from hard-working Canadians and we will be taxing them more and more.
Unfortunately, now that the Liberal government has come into office after it had its great campaign, all it is doing is crippling our middle class and our seniors, and it has only short-term plans. I hope that when the Liberals look at this they will recognize that we need to do better, and we can do better. I hope that they look at and review all of the documents that they have put forward.
Income Tax Act
June 17th, 2016 / 10:15 a.m.
Dan Albas Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this chamber on behalf of the constituents of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola.
I appreciate that we are at the eve of our rise, although it is neither your job, Madam Speaker, nor mine to say when that is. However, I want to thank every member I have had the opportunity to work with in this chamber during this opening round before we rise for the summer and thank the pages and the table staff for their commitment to this country.
I am here to speak to Bill C-2. It is an important bill, because it lays out the philosophy of the current government. The Liberals believe that raising taxes on the highest bracket will benefit this country. It is perfectly all right for them to contend that. They won the election. However, it is also perfectly all right for us, as members of Her Majesty's opposition, and all opposition parties, and even their backbench, to question the government.
Oftentimes in our system, members of Parliament are more relegated to being an approval body in this chamber and are not necessarily directing policy. However, I think one of the strengths of our system is when governments of any stripe take the policies of their predecessors, evaluate them, and continue them, if they are good for Canada.
In the same spirit, I would also suggest that we must remember that a broken clock can be right twice a day, but once in Quebec, I believe, because they go by international time. However, even in opposition, we may strike on an idea whose time may have come. I would hope that the government and members of the governing party will listen and take that forward. This country is great because of continued work toward policies that support all Canadians.
With that in mind, I will raise a few points about what I think could be improved and what the government, or ministers themselves as they work with their deputies, maybe not through this legislation but through their deliberations on future legislation, might take into account.
I have had the great opportunity to work with some members of the finance committee by subbing in from time to time. It is a very good group. The members seem to have a good understanding of the bills before them, and they seem to get along quite well.
One of the interesting concepts we heard about in committee was from Dr. Jack Mintz. Dr. Mintz raised a concern that taxing at the highest bracket would put pressure on some people of higher means, who may say that they are going to move to a different province or offshore to another country. When we lose those entrepreneurs, because 60% of small business owners are in that bracket, we lose collectively. We lose their innovation, and sometimes their capital, because they may begin investing in other countries.
The current government has said that it will use evidenced-based decision-making. Evidence means that there is theoretical evidence provided through academia, governmental reports, or think-tank studies or through actually collecting the data and creating an inventory, so to speak, on whether a policy is in the long-term interest of this great country.
In regard to Bill C-2, Dr. Mintz made the suggestion that the Canada Revenue Agency has the ability to track whether someone in this higher income bracket, who the Liberals will be taxing at a higher rate, moves or migrates to other lower-cost jurisdictions to operate, such as my province of British Columbia.
I am sure that Premier Christy Clark would love me to take a moment to sell all the high points of locating to British Columbia to entrepreneurs, but I will not do that. I am not going to speak to the parochial interests of my home province. I refuse to. However, what I will say is that there could be interprovincial or offshore migration.
If CRA was to collect the information, we might be able to get a tale of the tape.
I realize that people move for all sorts of reasons, but economists will tell us that incentives matter and people do make decisions, particularly in the higher income brackets, to find places where they can maximize their capital and where they feel welcome.
As a starting point, this is something the government can do on behalf of all Canadians to ensure that its policies are to the benefit of the long-term interests of this great country. I hope the government will give that full consideration.
I will also step back and tell the House about a personal experience. I love this chamber. I love this country. However, one of the things about our politics that we could change would be to stop judging an idea because of the messenger. If a former minister of the previous government gets up and makes a suggestion based on his or her experience, or someone from some think tank who people believe has some sort of ideological background says that this is a good policy for Canada, we should listen and evaluate it. We should not simply dismiss it because we disagree with some sort of vaguely placed ideological position. Let us start judging policies by their merits, not by the people who espouse them.
There are many things this government is going to be looking at. Trade, for example, is going to be an extremely difficult file for the Liberals, because Canadians have different views. Ultimately, the government is going to have to look at the evidence, look at how our economy has grown over the past 30 years by becoming a free trading nation, and then evaluate how that helps all of us.
We all have a different reaction when we suffer a loss, whether it be an electoral loss or a personal loss. We face denial, then anger, sadness, and acceptance. I am getting close to the acceptance stage on many of the government's policies, but members on the other side continue to get up and criticize the opposition for having a different view. We need to embrace the views, respect the views, and not cut each other down.
That being said, I will go to the subject of tax-free savings accounts. My riding is made up of an older demographic. Broc Braconnier is a veteran and one of the volunteers on a volunteer tax group. This is a group of individuals that helps seniors, usually low-income seniors at risk, file their tax returns so they can get the benefits they so desperately need. He mentioned to me that the tax-free savings account offered seniors two important steps. First, if they sold a home and downsized, a lot of the money from the sale of that home could go into a tax-free savings account if it had not been used before. They could also draw income from that account at an accelerated rate, which could make them feel that they had the nest egg they worked for. The same applies to the RRIFs.
I would just say to members on the other side that it is perfectly legitimate for us to raise concerns about certain policies. I do not mind being criticized, but let us talk about the ideas, and let us make sure that we are not skating around the area we like or the area we dislike. Policies are not so simple that they can be dismissed in one statement in this place.
Income Tax Act
June 17th, 2016 / 10:30 a.m.
Alistair MacGregor Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC
Madam Speaker, before I begin, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Regina—Lewvan.
It is good to be returning to the discussion on Bill C-2. As we all know in the House, this is a bill that received its first reading all the way back on December 9, 2015. We have had quite a session since then, and it is good to be returning to some old familiar ground.
Bill C-2 covers a few different areas. It is a bill that would amend a few different areas of the Income Tax Act. However, I am going to be limiting my comments to two areas in particular. The reason for that is they are the areas that are most relevant to the constituents in Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, and I suspect to constituents of most members of Parliament in the House as well. One area is the changes the bill would make to our tax code, notably to the area that the Liberals define as the middle class; and the second area is the reduction of the TFSA contributions from what the previous Conservative government used to have at $10,000 per year, down to a more reasonable level of $5,500 per year.
As part of my introductory remarks, I also want to speak a bit about my history as a former constituency assistant. I had the honour of working seven years as a constituency assistant. In that time, Canada Revenue Agency casework was one of the top three cases that came across my desk. It was some of the top casework that I got to see. I had a very privileged position, because over seven years I had very privileged access to many members of my constituency and their tax returns. I got to see the full range of their incomes, the very intricate details of their tax returns, and their relationship with the CRA because they essentially signed a contract with our office to give me unimpeded access to their tax returns and their tax history so that I could make some inquiries with the CRA on their behalf and try to solve the problems that they brought to the office.
One of the notable things that I saw during those seven years was the range of incomes. The range of incomes in Cowichan—Malahat—Langford would not be touched by the Liberals' tax measures. Incomes generally fell in a range of about $25,000 per year and maybe up to a high end of $50,000 to $60,000, so that the people at the high end would get some benefit but not much.
The key point I am trying to make here is that most constituents in my riding and I suspect most people across Canada would not receive any benefit from this tax cut, yet the Liberals keep on selling to the Canadian public that this would be a middle-class tax break. That is absolutely false.
I spoke to the bill at second reading back in February, when I was still getting used to making speeches in this hon. House. One of the things that I really loved to bring up during that speech, and I brought it up again during our discussions on Bill C-15, was the fact that the median income in Canada according to Statistics Canada is $31,000 a year. If we take the definition of median, which basically is the number separating the higher half of a data sample from the lower half, we could take $31,000 a year as a reasonable definition of where the middle class is. However, the Liberals' so-called middle-class tax break would not even start to begin giving benefits until people reach an income of $45,000 a year. They would max out when they get above $90,000 and into $100,000 a year.
To make it perfectly clear to everyone watching this debate, every member of Parliament in this chamber who earns $170,000 a year, which is on the public record, would get the maximum tax break of $670 per year, everyone. That is what the Liberals would do. They would give people in very high incomes a tax break, which frankly speaking we do not need. I do not know about everyone else in this chamber, but I was not elected to come to the House to give myself a tax break while the hard-working men and women of my riding get nothing. That was not what I was sent here to do. That is not the middle class that I came here to fight for.
The Liberals will say that it is okay because they are introducing the child benefit. It is a great concept, the child benefit. I will never, as a father of young children and knowing many constituents who have young children, argue against giving more money to the hard-working men and women of our country to help them raise their children.
However, I need to point out some evidence for everyone who is watching this debate. The Liberals' plan for the Canada child benefit will provide a maximum annual benefit of up to $6,400 per child under the age of six. Compare that with the average cost of child care in B.C., which is $14,000 per year. It is a drop in the bucket.
When I talk to families about the difficulties of child care, they say that more money would help but that what is really bugging them is the lack of affordable spaces and the lack of spaces overall. Furthermore, a lot of parents come up to me and say that their spouse works and they are a stay-at-home parent, and what would really get their family ahead is if they could actually hold two jobs. They cannot do that because the costs of child care are too high. They literally cannot afford to go and get a job.
That is what I hear. That is what I heard during the election. That is what I heard during seven years of working with constituents, right where the rubber meets the road, right at the constituency office.
I do not want any member of Parliament to tell me I do not know what I am speaking about, because I come here with evidence. I come here with testimony. I come here with seven years of experience of working with families. It is a shame that this Parliament is not doing anything to expand child care spaces in this country.
Furthermore, if we really wanted to give lower-income Canadians a leg up, we would pay attention to the wages they are receiving, and we would take this opportunity to show some leadership and institute a federally regulated minimum wage of $15 an hour.
A lot of people will say that is only going to affect a small number of jobs. That does not matter. It is about showing federal leadership. It is about having the House of Commons lead the way so that we put ourselves in the morally correct position of saying that we did it first and we expect the provinces to follow. I do not know how families make it on $11-an-hour wages. I simply do not. It is a miracle that they get by in the first place on those low wages.
I have spent a lot of time in my speech speaking about that particular tax change. It is a very passionate subject for me, as members can see. I do want to devote a little time on the TFSA, because that is one change in Bill C-2 that I agree with.
The Conservative government's plans in the previous Parliament to raise the limit to $10,000 a year would have been a huge cost to our treasury in later years. Furthermore, I do not know many families who could max out at $5,500 per year, let alone $10,000. When a family is earning a median income of $31,000 a year, how on Earth are they able to save $10,000 per year extra, to sock away? It is simply not possible.
That is a policy that benefits the top income earners in this country. Leaving the limit at $5,500 is perfectly reasonable, and it is something I can certainly support.
The costs with the TFSA increase to $10,000 a year would have risen to $132 billion by the year 2080. Conservatives like to portray themselves as the party of low taxes, and they like to really use the phrase “tax and spend”. The point I am trying to make is that if we are taking that much money out of federal revenue by those later years, that in itself is a tax on the programs that we use to support this society, to help low-income people get through.
If we are taking that kind of revenue out of the federal revenue stream, we are going to have to make cuts to federal programs. As much as we do not like to pay taxes, they are a part of living in our society and they are a part of building our infrastructure and building our supporting programs.
I will conclude by saying that we have been proposing some truly progressive things that could have made a real difference to low-income earners. I am sad to see that Bill C-2 did not live up to those standards and for that reason I will be voting against the bill at third reading.
Income Tax Act
June 17th, 2016 / 10:45 a.m.
Erin Weir Regina—Lewvan, SK
They are free to applaud that, Madam Speaker.
Of, course, the flip side of that is that we do not have enough resources to fund important public services and necessary infrastructure. That is one of the main reasons we have a big federal deficit. It is important that if we want to live in a civilized society, we need to have ways of raising the revenue to pay for those services and those infrastructures that we depend on.
What has the government done in terms of generating that needed revenue?
Bill C-2 proposes an additional four percentage points of personal income tax on incomes over $200,000 per year. That is definitely a positive initiative, but it is also a fairly minor initiative. It does not actually raise very much revenue. In fact, it does not even raise enough revenue to pay for the so-called middle-class tax cut that actually goes to what we might call the upper middle class. The maximum benefit is only to people earning more than $90,000 a year. We have this kind of redistribution from the rich to the nearly rich, which is costing the treasury even more money.
We, in the NDP, have suggested that the government might look to the corporate sector as a source of additional revenues to pay for public services.
It is interesting. This morning, the Toronto Star and CBC have come out with a joint investigation that looks into the loss of revenue to offshore tax havens. It notes that all of these tax information exchange agreements that the former Conservative government was very keen to sign have actually made the problem worse.
The goal of these agreements was obviously to achieve greater transparency, to get more information about what was going on in tax havens. However, what the Conservatives did while they were in power was to put in place a policy whereby once a country had signed one of these tax information exchange agreements, there was no more enforcement. Canadian companies could just repatriate profits tax free from those jurisdictions. Far from curtailing offshore tax avoidance, this plethora of tax information exchange agreements has actually made the problem worse. I think that is a problem that we need to be addressing in this House.
I would also like to talk a bit about a specific case of offshore tax avoidance that I think really illustrates the problem.
Cameco is a company that mines uranium in Saskatchewan. In 1999, it signed a deal with its own subsidiary in Zug, Switzerland to sell that uranium to Switzerland at a fixed price of $10 per pound. Switzerland was not the ultimate destination or user of that uranium. The subsidiary in Zug was just reselling it to other jurisdictions around the world at market prices. Of course, the market price of uranium is variable, but it has consistently been quite a bit more than $10 a pound. It is currently around $30 a pound. It was up to as high as $140 a pound in 2007.
The only real effect of this arrangement was to transfer billions of dollars of profits from Canada to this Swiss tax haven. The Canada Revenue Agency has calculated that from 2003 through 2015, that cost the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan more than $2 billion in lost tax revenue.
This is a huge scandal. It first came out in 2013. At that time, I was struck by the fact that Saskatchewan's Conservative MPs and one Liberal MP were totally silent on the matter. Fortunately, we now have some New Democratic MPs from the province who are going to speak up for tax fairness and raise issues like this.
It is very concerning that we have this company that is making huge profits off of Canadian resources and then transferring those profits out of the country, in a very brazen way, in order to avoid paying tax on it.
The good news is that the Canada Revenue Agency has started to pursue this matter. That is the way in which it came out publicly in 2013. However, the news that is a little more concerning is that there has been a real tradition of both Conservative and Liberal governments not actually following through on these cases, and instead signing these deals that let the tax cheats off the hook.
Part of the reason that I want to bring the Cameco case forward in this House is to put it on record, to make sure that the Government of Canada is actually going to follow up on this and not let the company get away with this scam.
I am not alone in this. Earlier this week, an organization called Canadians for Tax Fairness presented a petition signed by more than 36,000 people, calling on Cameco to make these tax payments. There are a lot of people who are concerned about this, and finally they have some Saskatchewan voices in Parliament speaking up for them.
I would also like to touch on the provincial side of this whole question. The tax base to which provincial taxes apply is actually defined by the Government of Canada. When you have a company like Cameco shifting taxable profits out of the country, it is not just the federal government that loses out; it is also the Government of Saskatchewan that is no longer able to collect the appropriate taxes on that money.
This is a pressing concern, because the Government of Saskatchewan is running a huge deficit right now. The Government of Saskatchewan really needs that money to maintain important public programs in our province. This is a critical issue. It has just come to light recently that the small “c” conservative government in Saskatchewan refused to present a budget prior to the recent provincial election because they wanted to conceal the fact that they were running this big deficit.
Now we know there is a huge deficit there, and we know how important it would be for the Province of Saskatchewan to be able to collect fair corporate taxes from the profits generated from our province's resources. It is not just about Cameco. This point is applicable to the whole question of offshore tax avoidance.
If the federal government were to do a better job of preventing this tax avoidance and tax evasion, and actually make sure that the correct amount of profit was subject to federal corporate income tax, that would also mean those profits could be subject to provincial corporate income tax.
I think almost all provincial governments are in deficit right now, and one of the best things this Parliament could do to help our provincial governments generate the revenues they need for health care, education, and social services would be to get our tax system in order. It wants to make sure that appropriate reporting is being done, so that not only do we have adequate revenues for the federal government, but so that our provincial counterparts can fund their operations in an appropriate way as well.
We are facing a huge revenue problem in this country. We have tax rates at historic lows, which are not sufficient to fund the important services and necessary infrastructure on which Canadians rely. Why is this happening? Obviously, one of the problems is that the general corporate tax rate has been cut. As my colleague pointed out, that has led to a huge loss of revenue and has not produced investment in our economy.
The other issue is that whatever the tax rate, it is not actually being applied because of these offshore tax schemes, which were aggravated by the recent Conservative government, of which Cameco in Saskatchewan is a particularly egregious example. We need to focus on this problem and come up with concrete solutions to collect appropriate revenues.