An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (transfer of small business or family farm or fishing corporation)

Sponsor

Guy Caron  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Defeated, as of Feb. 8, 2017

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Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Income Tax Act in order to provide that, in the case of qualified small business corporation shares and shares of the capital stock of a family farm or fishing corporation, siblings are deemed not to be dealing at arm’s length and to be related, and that, under certain conditions, the transfer of those shares by a taxpayer to the taxpayer’s child or grandchild who is 18 years of age or older is to be excluded from the anti-avoidance rule of section 84.‍1.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Feb. 8, 2017 Failed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

February 6th, 2017 / 11:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House today as the MP for a rural riding with an abundance of small and medium-sized businesses and plenty of family farms that go back more than 10 generations.

The work they do contributes to Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup's prosperity and entrepreneurial culture. I want to inform my colleagues that the Canadian Federation of Independent Business recently named Rivière-du-Loup the top entrepreneurial city in Canada in its fall 2016 ranking, this just a year after it was recognized as the most entrepreneurial city in Quebec.

There is no doubt that my riding and Rivière-du-Loup in particular are going full entrepreneurial speed ahead.

As a Conservative, I am proud of the previous government's record with respect to job creators. Our government reduced the corporate tax rate from 22% to 15% and the small business rate to 11%. It also increased the maximum revenue threshold for small business tax rate eligibility from $300,000 to $500,000.

As an entrepreneur myself who has created 20 or so jobs over the past 25 years in the printing industry in my region, I understand the importance of maintaining a tax system that favours entrepreneurship. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They created over 77% of all new jobs from 2002 to 2012.

People go into business for a variety of reasons. Some people are motivated by their passion, while others see a service gap that needs to be filled in their respective communities. For the most part, people go into business in order to meet their needs and those of their family. That is what I did myself in 1993 when I started my business.

We do so with the fervent hope that, one day, our children will take over our businesses, and we are eager to see them make our businesses flourish and build an even better future for our regions.

In my case, I fully intend to transfer some or all of my family business to my daughter at some point. I am extremely proud of my daughter, who has been working with me in my business for the past three years now.

I was very surprised to learn that, under Canada's current tax laws, it would be better for me to sell my business to an outside third party rather than to a member of my own family.

Essentially, when a business is sold to a family member, the difference between the sale price and the original price of the business is considered a dividend and is taxable as regular income at 100%. However, if the sale is between two strangers, the difference is considered a capital gain, only half of which is taxed.

What is more, in Canada, the lifetime capital gains exemption that normally applies to small and medium-sized businesses does not apply in this case.

What type of message does that send? Does this not discourage people from starting a business?

What we want is to ensure that our country's economic growth continues to expand. For that we need to encourage people to get into business. When people who have been in business for 25, 30, or 40 years are ready to hand over their shares to their children, it is not right to put them at a disadvantage. The same advantages should apply whether the business is sold to a third party or a family member.

An estimated 550,000 business owners are going to want to sell or transfer ownership of their business over the next decade.

According to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, over $500 billion in farm assets are set to change hands over the next 10 years. That is not to mention the over 8,000 family farms that ceased operations in the past decade. The population is aging, yet only 50% of these farm owners have a succession plan.

I would like to remind members that the Lower St. Lawrence region has one of the largest aging populations in Canada, which means that there are fewer opportunities to sell our businesses to future generations.

Given the aging population, three out of four farmers intend to retire in the next 10 years. It is therefore urgent that we correct the discrepancy in the Income Tax Act so that we are prepared for the upcoming demographic reality. That is why I support Bill C-274, which was introduced by my riding neighbour, the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

This bill caught the attention of the Rivière-du-Loup RCM in the Lower St. Lawrence region, which wrote a letter in the fall indicating its support for Bill C-274. The Rivière-du-Loup RCM's chamber of commerce did the same. Support is growing across Quebec. The Association des marchands dépanneurs et épiciers du Québec has spoken out against the existing situation, and the Union des producteurs agricoles and the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal have both indicated that they are in favour of this bill. All of the major opposition parties support this bill. It remains to be seen whether the Liberal government will also support it.

I think this is a good opportunity for the Liberals to redeem themselves after breaking their election promise to cut corporate taxes from 11% to 9%, voting for an increase in CPP contributions, and imposing a carbon tax on a still fragile economy.

Bill C-274 is an opportunity for the NDP, the Conservatives, and the Liberals to join forces and quickly pass a bill that would recognize that small businesses and family farms are important to Canadian society. I encourage each one of my colleagues to say yes to Bill C-274.

In closing, I would like to add that there is widespread support for this bill across Canada and especially in rural areas, where families create small businesses and support them from one generation to the next. I sincerely believe that these families must have this opportunity. Just imagine that I were to sell my business to my daughter. I would have to pay 100% of the tax instead of 50%. If I only had to pay 50% of the tax, I could continue to help my daughter grow her business. That money would certainly go back into the economy.

Once again, I invite all my colleagues to support Bill C-274.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

February 6th, 2017 / 11:10 a.m.
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NDP

Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, today I am so very pleased to add my voice to the chorus of those across Canada who support Bill C-274, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (transfer of small business or family farm or fishing corporation). I would like to thank my colleague from Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques for introducing this bill. I know he worked long and hard to make sure this bill is written in such a way as to protect everything that matters to our small businesses.

As we all know, our small and medium-sized businesses are the bedrock of our economy. Whole families make a living thanks to them.

I am from Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, where life can be very different from that in big cities. Many of my colleagues, such as those from Abitibi and the Lower St. Lawrence, as well as some of the other provinces, are familiar with those differences.

The reality in our regions, in places like Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, is that there are often only two, three, or four large businesses that contribute to their economies. Most of the time, small and medium-sized businesses are the main contributors. Many of our small businesses have only three or four employees, but they are what are sustaining our regions. We are seeing this more and more. The men and women of our regions are developing projects and new ideas and are doing their part every day to keep our regional economies going.

At the same time, our small and medium-sized businesses are facing many problems that make it harder for people back home to succeed. For example, the customer base is much smaller in our region.

Another problem is the shortage of young people willing to take over these businesses. It is really hard for SMEs to find people to take over, so when an entrepreneur is lucky enough to have someone in their family they can count on to take over the family business, that creates wealth for our communities. When people are lucky enough to have a family member to carry on a family business, it means they can pass down traditions, and for some, even memories. It means they can pass on what they have learned through experience and hard work.

Unfortunately, there is a great injustice. Federal legislation penalizes business owners and dissuades from passing on their life's work to members of their family. The reason is quite simple: when a business is sold to the owner's children or another relative, the profit from the sale is considered a dividend and is taxed as such under the Income Tax Act. On average in Canada, a dividend is taxed at roughly 35%.

If the business is sold to someone who is not part of the family, who is not a relative but a stranger, then the profit is considered a capital gain. In that case, there is a lifetime exemption of roughly $825,000 for a business and about $1 million for a farm or a fishing vessel. The remaining capital gain is taxed at about 25%, on average. That explains the difference between the sale to a stranger and the sale to a child or another family member.

We have to do something about this unfair situation. I have met with business owners in my region. They all agree on this. That is why various stakeholders in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region support Bill C-274.

I will quote Carl Côté of the Saguenay-Le Fjord chamber of commerce and industry.

Business succession is a major economic issue, especially in remote areas. Family businesses play an important role in economic development and they must have support. At present, they are subject to very unfair tax treatment. Family business succession is an issue that we are following closely...

The former president of the Union des producteurs agricoles du Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, Yvon Simard, believes that it is appalling that, in 2016, the dismantling and sale of companies to a stranger is subject to less tax than the sale or transfer to a family member, someone who could pursue their parents' dream and continue farming in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region.

When we contacted businesses in my riding, dozens responded and supported the NDP's efforts. Many deplore the current situation and hope that this injustice will be addressed.

I would like to read a few comments I received about this. They paint a clear picture of the reality facing small businesses and what the people of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean are going through.

A motel owner said that this is a major problem and that his father thought about selling the business to a stranger because it was more beneficial for him than to sell it to a family member.

Another business owner said the following: “I co-own a business with my son, so who do you think I will sell my shares to? However, by selling to my son, I am going to lose a lot of money. It is not fair.”

Finally, the owner of a small business said, “Two years ago, I sold my business to my son. It is unacceptable that I was penalized because of this unfair provision. It is a double standard.”

It is completely unacceptable for these business owners to be penalized for selling their company to a family member. We are not talking about opening the door to tax avoidance. We are talking about correcting the inequity that exists in the Income Tax Act, which considers the sale of a family business or farm to be a capital gain. Things should work the same whether the business is sold to a family member or a stranger. Bill C-274 simply seeks to correct the inequity, so that the process is the same regardless of whether the company is sold to a family member or a stranger.

In my opinion, my colleague's bill is well written and prevents tax avoidance. The bill is very clear about that. Our SMEs should not be penalized because of this inequity.

It is high time we abolished the unfair tax on the transfer of family businesses. When a business is transferred, potential buyers who are related to the owner should have the same rights and privileges as those who are not.

In closing, I would like to emphasize that all regions will benefit from this. This bill is good for everyone. It is good for our small and medium-sized businesses. In my region, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, this is the kind of positive change we really need to help revitalize our local economy.

I invite my colleagues in government and in opposition to consider the economic and social benefits of the bill. Facilitating the transfer of family businesses will help make our regions stronger. Something we talk about a lot in the regions is the retention of young people. My riding, Jonquière, is home to many farms and small businesses. We talk about the exodus of young people, who leave to work in big cities. Bill C-274 will boost local economies. Family farms are usually passed down from generation to generation. I visited a farm last winter, and the owners told me that it had been in their family for four generations.

I invite all my colleagues to vote in favour of Bill C-274, introduced by my colleague.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

February 6th, 2017 / 11:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Emmanuel Dubourg Liberal Bourassa, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-274, which has to do with the transfer of family businesses, a subject I have been interested in for quite some time.

The first document I consulted was the December 2010 report by Suzanne Landry for Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, a chartered professional accountants firm. Ms. Landry, who is now a professor at the École des hautes études commerciales de Montréal, identified a number of possible solutions in her report.

This bill targets one of the most complex parts of the Income Tax Act: the sections about transfers and the capital gains deduction, among others. We are talking about butterfly transactions. This has all kinds of implications.

Subsection 84.1, which this bill would amend, was included in the Act under tax avoidance to prevent fraudulent transactions involving the transfer of businesses among family members. Caution is vital here.

I wanted to bring in legislation on this when I was a member of another Parliament, the Quebec National Assembly. The finance minister and I had several meetings on the matter. I decided not to go forward because he told me that it would cost a lot of money and that this was the type of measure that needed to be passed by the Parliament of Canada in Ottawa.

Fast forward to November 2013 when I arrived in Parliament. I was still working on ways to rectify this injustice. That is why I introduced Bill C-691, but unfortunately, the session ended in June 2015 and we did not have the chance to debate it.

Let us talk about the impetus for this bill. Let us look at the statistics. We were told that 45% of jobs and 80% of new jobs in the private sector were created by small businesses. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the CFIB, said that 66% of small businesses would change owners over the coming decade and that a third of small and medium-sized business owners wanted to sell to family members. That is to say nothing of the youth unemployment rate.

Then there are the reasons why this bill is essential. I can also say that business succession is at the heart of this bill. Business succession represents an economic challenge because it requires a succession plan and choosing the successor. We must encourage the sale of businesses to family members because selling a business to a stranger could result in its relocation, benefiting the strangers.

The safeguards in this bill will ensure that the ones to benefit will be the middle-class families. Ensuring the sustainability of small businesses is also essential to the job market.

This bill has an end goal. The concept of transferring a business to a family member is simple, but the solution is complex. When a parent sells his or her business to a person who is not related by blood, marriage, or adoption, the parent can choose to not pay tax on the first $824,000 of taxable capital gains. However, if the business is sold to the son, the parent cannot use the capital gains deduction. This bill will address an unfair element of the law.

When I introduced Bill C-691, measures also had to be taken to prevent abuse.

First, I included a gradual cap so that, if a company's taxable capital was less than $15 million, the company would be eligible for the deduction. If the company made between $10 million and $15 million in taxable capital, then the deduction would be reduced because we do not want large companies to benefit from this type of deduction.

Second, after placing this cap on taxable capital, I introduced a measure that required that an affidavit of the transaction, issued by an independent assessor and indicating the fair market value of the business, be presented to meet the conditions of the transaction. The buyer also had to be over the age of 18. What is more, if the buyer had to resell the shares after less than two years, the initial transaction would be deemed to have never occurred.

When I introduced the bill, it received the support of my NDP colleague and the the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which was very important. When I held a press conference about the bill, representatives from the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise or CAFE were there with me to show their support. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture, which is made up of all the main farming associations in the country, and the Regroupement des cabinets de courtage d’assurance du Québec also supported the bill. It is important to mention that, in recent years, the Quebec CPA Order has raised this issue every time it has participated in pre-budget consultations.

In conclusion, I am certain this bill is the solution. I am glad that both the NDP and the Bloc Québécois decided to reintroduce it. However, there are a number of things to consider when we vote on this bill, cost being one of them.

I consulted the people at the Library of Parliament, and they told me that, in 2012, transactions involving eligible shares of small and medium-sized businesses amounted to more than $5 billion. In their tax returns, people cannot specify which transactions occurred at arm's length, so the Library of Parliament's findings are based on estimates.

They told me that, in 2012, transactions totalling $5 billion were carried out by more than 20,000 people. Supposing one-third of the transactions occurred between related individuals, such as 6,000 parents selling their businesses, giving them favourable tax treatment would cost the public purse no less than $300 million.

The Liberal government stated that it absolutely wants to help the middle class. Bourassa, the riding I represent, is struggling economically. Every month there, 19,000 children collect more than $8 million in Canada child benefit payments. By comparison, the cost of this program is exorbitant because it would cost $300 million to help 6,000 people.

In conclusion, yes, it is not fair, but present circumstances dictate that we take all of the factors into account to make the right decision. That is what we will do on Wednesday when we vote on Bill C-274.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

February 6th, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise here this morning to take part in the debate on Bill C-274.

I want to thank my colleague from the New Democratic Party for introducing this bill, an act to amend the Income Tax Act regarding the transfer of small business or family farm or fishing corporation. The member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, from the province of Quebec, is the finance critic for the second opposition party.

I feel compelled to speak to this issue because many people in my riding, Lévis—Lotbinière, have expressed their concerns about this matter and what the Canada Revenue Agency is supposed to do.

Furthermore, my colleague from Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier had intended to move a motion or introduce a bill to change this situation after a number of his constituents expressed their serious concerns and fears. As everyone here knows, all parliamentarians have to wait their turn in order to introduce a bill or motion in the House. Unfortunately, my colleague was 214th in line to be able to introduce his bill, which meant he was very unlikely to introduce it before the end of the 42nd Parliament, which will end in October 2019.

This bill should go through second reading so that we can study all the tax implications and, most importantly, determine how it will contribute to the economic development of the regions of Quebec and Canada.

We believe that this government has not done what is necessary to support the economic development of our regions, and here is why. It appointed just one minister to look after Canada's six economic development agencies, when that minister is not familiar with the realities of all the regions of Canada, particularly those of Quebec, and likely never will be.

The Liberals have been in office for over a year, yet they still have not managed to sign a softwood lumber agreement. They also have not managed to create any jobs in Canada, except perhaps at the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. They are setting up an infrastructure bank for projects of $100 million or more. They are even saying that investors would prefer projects of $500 million or more. However, if projects of $100 million or more or $500 million or more are required, the Lotbinière RCM, whose municipalities have an average population of 2,200, will not see a penny of that money for many years to come.

What is more, the government set up only a modest compensation program for farmers and cheese producers. However, these days, our dairy producers are very concerned, particularly with regard to the new and upcoming NAFTA negotiations. I can see why they are concerned, given the government across the way.

Let us not forget the most important thing: the government did all of this while completely losing control of the deficit. It announced a $10-billion deficit, which is huge, but now it seems the deficit is going to be closer to $30 billion. What is worse, the budget will not be balanced until 2055. There are many people here in the House who will not even live to see that happen.

This bill has to pass second reading stage so that we can provide a tool to help protect our seasoned Canadian entrepreneurs. This will also help ensure the prosperity of a business supervised by a parent who is committed to the success of the business. Parents are excellent mentors for the business, especially if they have been working at the business for 40 years. They have weathered a few storms and are certainly able to give the best advice to the future generation, often their own children or grandchildren. These entrepreneurs worked hard on developing their businesses. The least we can do is take the time to address this issue in the House.

Let us build on what Quebec did when faced with the same problem involving the sale of businesses between members of the same family. In 2015, the finance minister included measures in his budget to ensure that this type of transaction is taxed fairly and equitably for family members of small-business owners.

We must also encourage family solidarity and in doing so, protect our small and medium-sized businesses to ensure their survival and allow children and grandchildren to take over the operations and maintenance of their family business, both in Canada's cities and its vast rural regions.

Many business people are not motivated to transfer their cherished business to a family member. Imagine that you had to pay between $250,000 and $1 million more in taxes on a small business. This is quite different than selling the business to a non-family member. That is the lesser evil. What is scandalous is the demise of these businesses, which results in the loss of 15, 20, or 30 jobs in small communities of 1,000 people.

Future generations work in the family business. However, when the owners want to retire and enjoy a well-deserved lifestyle after having worked to build a good business, they do not want to give their money to the different levels of government. We all know that the best place to invest money in order for it to grow is in the pockets of Canadians and not in those of a Liberal government.

Anyone who can count and who is an entrepreneur at heart will perhaps prefer, unfortunately, to sell their business to someone else rather than to a family member, because today's tax system is not accountable to anyone and does not respect the contributions of those who have developed these businesses for the past 40 years.

We believe that the aging of our population will result in increased business transfers, and that most small businesses will sadly not make it out in one piece. The survival of small businesses is vital to job markets all across Canada, especially in the regions. Young entrepreneurs are having a hard time coming up with the capital needed to take over the business, especially since they have to borrow 30% more to ensure that their parents can have a decent retirement. Many entrepreneurs want their children or grandchildren to take over their business, which is only natural. When people invest 40 years of their life in a business, they usually want it to continue after they are gone.

We believe that horizontal equity, when it comes to taxation, is a fundamental part of ensuring a fair and competitive business environment. It is only fair that all Canadians should be treated equally when it comes to taxation, and not two different ways. It is unfair that there are two separate tax structures depending on whether business owners sell to their children or grandchildren, or to a stranger. We believe that the Income Tax Act penalizes families who want to keep the business in the family.

In closing, for all these reasons, and more importantly, because this government has not taken the necessary steps to support and develop our regions, which is very important, this bill needs to pass second reading. This tool will help protect Canada's experienced business owners and help guarantee millions of jobs for future generations. This is a good initiative and we will support it.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

February 6th, 2017 / 11:40 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, this magnificent Monday morning, we have the good fortune to be talking about the bill introduced by my colleague from Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques. I gather from members' remarks that there is broad consensus around this bill. The only concerns I have heard people express from the start have to do with the cost of the bill. Barring petty partisanship, I see no reason why we should not send this bill to committee after the second reading vote for a closer look at its real costs. This bill is very important to the economy and to the development of both Quebec and Canada.

Everyone knows our society is aging. We are facing major changes to which we will have to adapt quickly and as best we can. We are used to analyzing health and education issues and changing our policies on the basis of demographic trends, but there is just as much urgency in other sectors that tend to be ignored. That is why I think my colleague's bill, which tackles one of the most significant generational shifts, is so important.

By 2020, as many as 350,000 business owners will be 50 or more and will be considering selling or transferring ownership of their business to a family member or selling it to a stranger. With the population ageing, it is reassuring to see that the next generation of entrepreneurs is available, skilled, competitive, and ready to face the challenges that come with taking over the reins from the previous generation.

Why are so many businesspeople raising their concerns with me over entrepreneurial succession? Well, they have done the math and they recognize how unfair the difference can be in the sale of a business to a family member or to a third party. Although my colleague's bill is not the first to address this issue, it is by far the most comprehensive and deserves the support of all parliamentarians in the House.

However, for the uninitiated who are following the debate and who are not aware of the problem, let us try to sum up what it means to transfer a business. If business owners want to get out of the business world, then they have two choices. They can sell their business to one of their children, thereby ensuring that the business remains family-run and deriving satisfaction from the act of passing down the business from one generation to the next. The owner gets to see his or her efforts carry on. The second choice in principle is just as commendable. The owner can sell to a stranger. It is easy to say that this is a personal choice and that everyone is free to make their own decision. However, that is less true when we know that both avenues do not produce the same profits from a sale at the same price.

At this point in time, if the business person sells their business to a stranger, the difference between the sale price and the original price is considered a capital gain taxed at between 23% and 29% by the provinces and also benefits from a tax exemption of about $824,000. However, if the owner sells his business to one of his children, the same difference between the sale price and the original price is considered a dividend, which is taxed at between 35% and 51%, depending on the province, and does not benefit from a tax exemption.

To put it simply, the owner who sells his business for $1 million and reports a capital gain, compared to the owner who reports a dividend on the same amount, would come out ahead by about $306,000. We have to admit that makes selling to a family member somewhat less appealing.

This is what Bill C-274 would do. It would allow the owner and buyers from the same family to enjoy the same rights and privileges resulting from a transaction between two people without any family ties. Consequently, Bill C-274 would help keep businesses in the hands of local people, foster entrepreneurship, and contribute to the creation of local jobs.

What is more, in order to prevent any type of tax avoidance, an argument that members have been raising since this morning, my colleague had the foresight to include an obligation in the bill under which the family member who purchases the business must remain the owner for five years following the transaction. We are not the only ones who are saying that it is high time to eliminate this unfair business transfer tax.

Since I am running out of time, I will not read the incredibly long list of people who support my colleague's bill. I must admit that I do not see what reason any member would have to vote against a bill that has garnered so much support. I therefore hope that Bill C-274 will be sent to committee, because we are always open to making necessary improvements. I also look forward to the day when the House will send a clear message to entrepreneurs across the country telling them that they can sell their company to whomever they choose and still pay the same rate.

Need I mention that I strongly urge all members of the House to vote in favour of the bill introduced by the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques?

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

February 6th, 2017 / 11:45 a.m.
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Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, today I am speaking on behalf of the government about Bill C-274.

We all agree that small businesses are key to our prosperous communities. They provide important goods and services, create jobs, and weave themselves into the fabric of our communities, in which they have a genuine interest.

The Government of Canada wants the small business sector to remain stable and dynamic. Is Bill C-274 in the best interest of small businesses? The government's position, which I support, is this: the bill is well-intentioned, but the government is very concerned about its unintended consequences and whether it will really work.

The main problem is that it will open the door to tax avoidance. The Government of Canada cannot allow that possibility. The stated purpose of this bill is to amend the Income Tax Act to facilitate the transfer of small businesses and family farm and fishing corporations among family members.

To that end, the bill would dilute two longstanding anti-avoidance rules found in the Income Tax Act. First, we must answer the following important question: why are these anti-avoidance rules in place? Their objective is certainly not to discourage the transfer of small businesses to family members. These rules exist because without them certain individuals would have greater opportunities to engage in inappropriate tax avoidance.

Measures that would introduce tax loopholes would not be consistent with the principles of fairness, economic efficiency, and responsible fiscal management.

As I mentioned, the bill would dilute two longstanding anti-avoidance rules found in the Income Tax Act; specifically, it would amend sections 55 and 84.1 of the act.

I would now like to focus on section 84.1. This anti-avoidance rule may apply when an individual sells shares of one corporation to another corporation that is linked to the individual. When an individual sells shares of a Canadian corporation to a linked corporation, section 84.1 of the Income Tax Act deems that the individual has received a taxable dividend from the linked corporation rather than a capital gain, which is taxed at a lower rate in certain circumstances. Why? It is because the linked corporation could use the proceeds of the dividend paid by the Canadian corporation and give it to the individual in exchange for shares.

In other words, the individual is taxed based on the principle whereby dividends can be extracted from the Canadian corporation in order to be paid to the individual and should be taxable in his or her hands as dividends. Without this rule, such sales between related parties could be used to convert dividends for an individual into capital gains that are taxed at a lower rate, including gains eligible for a lifetime capital gains exemption.

Bill C-274 proposes narrowing the scope of section 84.1 by removing the sale of shares of certain companies from its application. These companies include eligible small businesses and family farm or fishing corporations sold by an individual to another firm owned by an adult child or grandchild of that individual.

This change will allow the owner-operator of a family business to convert the dividends of the corporation into taxable capital gains at a lower tax rate. Such conversions of corporate dividends into capital gains taxed at a lower rate could be done as often as the owner-operator wants to extract the corporation's surpluses and receive a fiscal benefit.

While the main purpose of section 84.1 is to limit the application of the lifetime capital gains exemption, there are similar concerns regarding cases where no exemption is requested because of different personal income tax rates that apply to taxable dividends and capital gains.

In 2017, the highest combined federal-provincial personal income tax rate on capital gains is roughly 17.8 percentage points lower than the rate applicable to dividends.

This difference in personal income tax rates means that for every extra $100,000 that is converted into a taxable capital gain, the federal-provincial savings can be as high as $17,800.

It is important to note that there is nothing stopping a parent from selling their shares of the family business directly to their child or grandchild and claiming the lifetime capital gains exemption on the capital gains, and then claiming as taxable capital gains any other gains from the sale of the shares that are not eligible for the lifetime capital gains exemption.

The anti-avoidance rule set out in section 84.1 applies when the shares are sold to a company owned by the child or grandchild of that taxpayer. The tax rules already allow for the intergenerational transfer of a business directly to a child or a grandchild.

Adopting the proposed changes to section 84.1 would open the door to new avoidance possibilities. This would unfairly benefit wealthy individuals instead of members of the broader middle class.

Based on a series of reasonable assumptions on how Canadians would react to this measure, the Minister of Finance believes that the proposed amendment would cost the federal government between $350 million and $1.2 billion a year. This clearly goes against the government's overall objective to strengthen support for the middle class and those working hard to join it.

It is also important to point out that, according to analyses conducted by third parties, Canada has a good tax system and is an excellent place to do business. According to a KPMG study, total business tax costs in Canada are the lowest in the G7 and 48% lower than those in the United States.

The government is currently making unprecedented investments in infrastructure and innovation that will expand opportunities in the country and result in stronger and more inclusive growth. What is more, the government has lowered taxes for nearly nine million Canadians, and 9 out of 10 families with children now receive higher benefits through our new Canada child benefit program.

That means more disposable income for middle-class Canadians and a stronger economy, which will benefit small businesses.

In closing, I understand the reasons behind Bill C-274. We all want the tax rules to be simple, fair, and conducive to small business growth. However, ultimately, the opportunities for tax avoidance that would arise from the passing of Bill C-274 far outweigh any possible benefit.

Bill C-274 would not make the tax system any fairer. On the contrary, it would give wealthy individuals the opportunity to use private corporations for tax planning purposes. It would result in pressure to weaken other anti-avoidance rules.

For these reasons, I urge the members of this House to vote against Bill C-274.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

February 6th, 2017 / 11:55 a.m.
See context

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise in support of Bill C-274, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (transfer of small business or family farm or fishing corporation).

As the small-business critic for the progressive opposition, as a former business owner and executive director of a chamber of commerce, and as the co-chair of the all-party entrepreneur caucus, I am proud to stand today in support of Bill C-274 and speak to its many strengths. I am grateful for the work of my colleague, the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, for putting forward an excellent piece of legislation on tax fairness for Canadian small-business owners.

In debates, committee meetings, and in legislation, small business is an important focus for parliamentarians. We understand that small-business owners are the real job creators in Canada, as 80% of all jobs are created by small business. Some 30% of our GDP comes from small business. Small businesses are an economic driver of our local economies.

The bill is about keeping jobs in Canada, keeping our wealth in our local communities, supporting family-owned businesses, and supporting community economic development by plugging economic leakages. It is about fair tax laws for Canadians. It is about correcting an unreasonable provision in the Income Tax Act. It makes no sense that our current laws make it easier to sell a business to a stranger than to a family member. Why would we do that? Let us make it easier to enable Canadian businesses to be passed from generation to generation, not harder. Let us not penalize the very people who have put their heart and soul and a lifetime into developing their local businesses. Let us support Canadians who support their communities.

I know I do not have time to do a full speech, so in closing, the government has an opportunity to show Canadians it is fighting for working-class Canadians by supporting the bill. The working class is family business. It is hard-working entrepreneurs who are the foundation of our economy and the real job creators. Nobody has a deeper connection to community or understands the importance of keeping the wealth in their community better than family business owners.

Canadians deserve fair succession tax laws on their family-owned small businesses. We need to make it easier to sell a business to a family member. We need to keep jobs local, and our money in our local economies. We need to give our business owners the tools to thrive in our communities. Right now, the Income Tax Act makes it easier to sell a business, like I said, to a stranger than to a family member. Bill C-274 would correct that mistake. I urge all parliamentarians to support small-business owners across Canada by supporting the bill.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

February 6th, 2017 / noon
See context

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to conclude this debate on my private member’s bill, Bill C-274.

In each of our ridings, there are small and medium-sized business owners, farmers and fishers. At present, these people do not belong to the wealthiest class, in spite of what the government is trying to say. They are the very definition of middle-class, and people who start up a small business are often people who aspire to join the middle class.

I am extremely disappointed that the government is opposing this bill. I believe they are opposing it for reasons I think are absurd, and I will explain why.

First, the Minister of Finance and his parliamentary secretary believe the bill will cost between $300 million and $1.2 billion. I worked with tax experts on this bill to make sure it will not be too costly for the government. We estimated that, in terms of lost revenue, it will cost between $75 million and $100 million. Is that excessive? The goal is to level the playing field.

In Montreal, the owner of a small window and door business who wanted to transfer his business to his child had to pay over $110,000 more in taxes than if he sold it to a stranger, a person who was not family.

Obviously, there will be costs in terms of lost revenue, but the goal is to level the playing field and allow these businesses to stay within the family for a second or third generation. The figures the government is suggesting can and must therefore be disputed. They should be examined in committee.

That is why I am asking the government and all members of the House to adopt the bill at second reading, so that we can analyze these figures and compare the analyses I have done with various tax experts and the figures from the Library of Parliament, the Union des producteurs agricole, and Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton and other accounting firms, with the government’s figures.

Another argument that the government has made against the bill is the fact that at present, parents may transfer their business to their children and receive a capital gain. That is true, if the child is not incorporated. However, children increasingly are incorporated, since incorporation carries several advantages, including lower interest rates when they borrow and less tax on the amount to be paid to the parents.

I know there are extremely complex issues and tax policy is complex. Nonetheless, Bill C-274, which I have brought forward, is an appropriate response to the injustice that is an incentive for owners of small businesses, family farms and fishing boats to sell their businesses to strangers rather than to their children. They do not do that because they will get rich; they sell their business so they can retire.

I would like to reassure the government that my intention is not for the bill to be too costly. The intent is to bring the bill to committee so it can actually be studied and if needed, if it is really too costly, to be amended. I can guarantee every member in this House that with the numbers the government is putting forth, if the bill will be as costly as it is saying, I will volunteer to actually withdraw it from consideration. I am saying that because I am sure it will not be.

In conclusion, I encourage all members of the House to consider how this bill will affect their constituents. I have the support of more than 150 organizations across the country in Quebec, Ontario, the west and the Maritimes, organizations such as chambers of commerce, municipalities, and organizations that represent farmers and fishers.

If this bill dies before going to committee for an in-depth study of the costs and impacts, those people will be extremely disappointed. They are not likely to have forgotten this by the time the next election rolls around.

I therefore urge all members of the House to vote for this bill at second reading so we can study it in committee.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

November 24th, 2016 / 5:30 p.m.
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NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

moved that Bill C-274, an Act to amend the Income Tax Act (transfer of small business or family farm or fishing corporation), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I have to admit that I am very pleased to debate this bill. It is the first time that I have had the opportunity to introduce and debate a private member's bill in the House as I was unable to do so in the last Parliament.

Bill C-274 would correct and eliminate a gross injustice concerning the transfer of our farms and SMEs. This issue is more important than ever. Demographically speaking, 76% of small business owners plan to transfer ownership of their companies so that they can retire within the next 10 years, and 50% of farm owners want to do the same thing, also within the next 10 years.

The injustice that this bill is intended to remedy is that, if someone has a small business, a farm, or even a fishing boat and wants to sell it to his or her children, in a corporate structure, the seller, who is the owner of the small business or family farm in question, will pay much more income tax than if he or she decided to sell to a stranger.

In a very large number of cases, that means choosing between having a larger pension fund by selling to a stranger—since a pension fund is what business owners get when they sell their business—and having a smaller pension fund by selling to one’s children. The difference can be extremely large. If we ignore the tax planning that such a transaction can entail, for the sale of a farm worth $10 million, which, with all the assets, is quite often a reasonable price, selling to a child can cost up to $1.2 million more in income tax than if the farm is sold to a stranger. In the case of the sale of a business worth $1 million, the difference can be more than $300,000 in income tax.

The reason is very simple: if people want to sell to their children, to someone related to them, the difference between the sale price and the original price at the time of purchase is considered a dividend under the Income Tax Act. Consequently, it is treated like a dividend for tax purposes. Across the country, dividends are taxed at about 35% on average.

If business owners sell to someone who is not a family member, in other words, an unrelated person, a stranger, the difference between the sale price and the original price at the time of purchase is considered a capital gain. In that case, there is a lifetime exemption of about $825,000 for a business and about $1 million for a farm or a fishing boat. The remaining capital gain is taxed at about 25% on average. This explains the difference between selling to a stranger and selling to a child.

Obviously, it is unfair. In every constituency, we have business owners. People who want to sell their small business, their family farm, or their fishing boat in the Atlantic provinces, for example, are faced with an extremely heart-rending choice. Will they agree to sell their business to a family member and have $100,000, $125,000, or $150,000 less in their pension fund because they want their child to succeed them, because they want someone in the family to take over a business that they built with their own hands? They may not have the opportunity to do so if their pension fund is not large enough. Unfortunately, instead of selling to their child, who would be willing to take over, they have to consider selling to a stranger.

My bill seeks to correct this injustice. I admit that the bill is somewhat self-serving because this has been an ongoing problem in my constituency. In fact, the bill was prepared in co-operation with the farmers and SMEs in my riding. Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques is in the Lower St. Lawrence region, and 12% of the region’s economy is dependent on agriculture.

We have many family farms, especially dairy farms, as well as some maple sugar operations. In my constituency, it is not big companies that drive the economy. It is small businesses.

People, particularly those in the farming community, have been telling me about this situation since I first took office in 2011. They are being forced to choose between selling to a child at a tax loss and selling to a stranger.

The situation has become even more worrisome since there has been talk of land speculation. Certain people want to buy farmland to speculate on its value.

Such people have an advantage right from the start, since their offer means that the person selling the company or farm will have a lot less income tax to pay. The current situation is unfair.

My bill is designed to resolve the situation so that the sale of a family business or farm to a child will be treated as a capital gain, the same as if it were sold to a stranger.

There is no real reason to oppose such a measure. There are three reasons why such a measure may have been opposed in the past. First, this type of measure could open the door to aggressive tax avoidance, which is why things are the way they are now. However, my bill eliminates that possibility by requiring the buyer to retain his shares for a minimum of five years, except in case of death. People who retain their shares for five years do so because the family transfer was genuine and not because they were trying to work the system to avoid paying income tax.

The second reason why such a measure may have been opposed in the past is the argument that only the richest farmers or entrepreneurs would benefit from the measure. Once again, that is not the case with my bill because it deals only with transactions of $15 million or less. All transactions over $15 million, like those involving big farms or companies, are excluded from the terms of Bill C-274.

The third reason why such a measure could have been opposed, the last one I can think of, is the cost of the bill. Obviously, there will be a cost in lost revenue for the government. However, that cost is estimated not in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but between $75 million and $90 million. I know that different figures are being advanced, particularly by the finance department, but mine have been corroborated by many tax experts. The reason why we are talking about $75 million to $90 million is that, at present, all of this potential income tax paid by people who are selling small businesses or family farms is reduced through tax planning.

I can back up these figures with the following facts. Quebec, which has its own income taxation system, identified the same problem. It corrected it in its 2015 budget, and the correction has been implemented since March 2016. Its approach to fixing this problem is somewhat different than mine, but ultimately, Quebec estimates that eliminating this injustice will cost it some $15 million in lost revenue.

If Quebec loses $15 million, I think it is quite plausible that the lost revenue at the federal level would be around $75 million to $90 million.

This flagrant injustice has to be corrected. Speaking of injustice, imagine for a moment if the situation were reversed. Imagine if, currently, the rules for selling to a stranger and selling to one's child were the same, and then imagine if a member tabled a bill seeking to make selling to a stranger more appealing, would the House find that acceptable? Would it pass such a bill? Of course not; the question answers itself.

I would like to point out that I am not the only person in the House to note the problem. From what I understand, I should have the support of a great many, if not all, of the opposition members. I am eager to hear the speeches.

Let us not forget that, in June 2015, before the last election, the Liberal member for Bourassa tabled Bill C-691, which sought to correct this injustice regarding SMEs. My bill, at least so far as the SME component is concerned, was modelled on his bill as well as on that of my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé, who drafted a number of clauses for farms and for fishing companies. My colleague from Joliette at the time also drafted a section on transactions between siblings.

My Liberal colleague at the time acknowledged the problem, and so did the government of Quebec, which then corrected it. I expect the hon. members to consider all of the small businesses and family farms in their ridings. I would also like members representing coastal constituencies to consider the impact this might have on fishing companies.

We are talking about small businesses and people who have worked all their lives to try and earn a living, people who, often, found themselves having to get their family business up and running again, as well as those who created it from scratch and now want it to stay in the family.

What this government has always been telling these Canadians is that they have to suffer this injustice when they sell their business to their children. In my opinion, that is totally unfair. Allow me to explain.

My colleague from Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères had tried to table a bill in the wake of a situation that occurred in his riding and that made the headlines in May. Christian Tremblay, of Armoires Tremblay, in Saint-Mathieu-de-Beloeil, wanted to sell his company to his son Patrick, a company worth $1.7 million.

Imagine his surprise when he found out that, if he sold it to his son rather than to a stranger, he would have to pay $100,000 more in income tax. He considers the situation quite unfair. Will he sell to his son and make $100,000 less on a $1.7-million sale, or will he sell to a stranger so that he can keep that money in his account? The issue is receiving media attention, and thousands of new cases are bound to come up, at a growing rate, because of the demographic shift we will be going through over the next 10 years.

I would also like to talk about a problem that my bill will remedy, particularly in the regions. I would say that my bill may have greater importance in regions such as mine than it might have in major urban centres, because we are facing an exodus of young people.

In my constituency, young people are leaving the region for lack of employment opportunities; they go to school in urban centres, never to return again.

My bill will not fully remedy this situation. However, it will give our young people one more reason to stay in the region by giving them a better chance of acquiring the family business. It is something I hear about all the time in Rimouski-Neigette, Témiscouata and Les Basques, and I know that MPs from the regions have observed and heard the same thing.

I have covered a lot of kilometres in Canada promoting my bill. For two weeks last summer, I toured the Atlantic provinces talking to chambers of commerce, farming organizations and fishing organizations, to tell them about my bill, obviously, and find out if they would like to support it. In large part, they said yes.

I did the same thing in some parts of Quebec and Saskatchewan not long ago, and I will continue doing so until we vote on the bill at second reading. I think it is working, because I have enjoyed extraordinary support.

I organized a news conference when I introduced my bill last May. At my side was Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, who supports this bill.

I also have the support of the major chambers of commerce, including the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec, the metropolitan Montreal chamber of commerce, and different regional chambers in my riding and my region, as well as all over Quebec. Furthermore I have the support of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Union des producteurs agricoles, the UPA, and other agricultural organizations all over the country. Finally, I have the support of fishers’ organizations, including the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association, and I will have others as well. I will not abandon this fight.

I hope to have the support of the members of the House, who will see that this is not a partisan issue, but one that affects each of their ridings all over the country. In my view, it is a victory for common sense to vote in favour of this bill and so bring about tax fairness.

My bill rules out any possibility of fiscal abuse. It rules out the possibility that it will be disproportionately costly for the government, and it ensures that the richest owners or farmers are not going to be the ones to benefit.

Hence there is no reason to vote against this bill. I am eager to hear my colleagues on debate, and I hope to have their support so that this bill can be referred to the Standing Committee on Finance for second reading.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

November 24th, 2016 / 5:50 p.m.
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Saint-Maurice—Champlain Québec

Liberal

François-Philippe Champagne LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to thank my colleague once again for raising this important issue.

I can assure him that we are listening to Canadians. I meet with people every day. I have met with accounting firms and tax firms. We understand this issue, but the most important thing we have to do, as a government, is to understand that the greatest injustice we could do would be to introduce new tax loopholes in Canada. The $800 million figure is the figure provided by the Department of Finance, which has studied this issue at least as thoroughly as my colleague on the other side of the House. The $800 million figure is just the beginning; we expect it to be higher in subsequent years.

I am rising in the House to speak to my colleague’s bill, Bill C-274. The stated objective of this bill, to facilitate the transfer of family businesses to future generations in a family, seems commendable. It is the statement of principle by my colleague across the aisle. His proposed approach is to amend two long-standing anti-avoidance rules in the Income Tax Act. Those two measures have been in the Canadian tax code for a long time.

I am so pleased to be here this evening to discuss the repercussions that these fiscal changes may have. We often talk about unexpected consequences. My colleague's principle is worthy, but we have to take a close look at the measures themselves and really understand the fiscal consequences this could have for the country. I am sure all members of the House will agree that the intention behind this bill is good, and I want to go on the record as saying that my colleague's intention is very good. There is no doubt about that. Many of us are from rural parts of Quebec and Canada. We understand how things are for our farmers and entrepreneurs. I represent Shawinigan, which is, in a way, the beating heart of entrepreneurship in Quebec. We know all about entrepreneurship. We all come from places where small businesses can prosper, and we all want a fair tax system for all Canadians.

However, when weighing the merits of this bill, it is important to consider all the potential consequences of passing it. We must not lose sight of the fact that the tax rules that Bill C-274 proposes to amend exist for a reason, and that is to prevent people from engaging in inappropriate tax avoidance in Canada. Let us be clear about what Bill C-274 is proposing, and that is to soften the rules designed to prevent tax avoidance in Canada.

Let me explain. The proposed changes would dilute the anti-avoidance rules in sections 55 and 84.1 of the Income Tax Act. To help my colleagues fully understand what that means, let us first look at section 55 of the Income Tax Act. As currently worded, section 55 of the act applies to corporations that seek to inappropriately reduce capital gains by paying tax-free dividends between corporations. In short, the anti-avoidance rules consider such dividends to be a capital gain.

Two exemptions to the anti-avoidance rule authorize business restructuring by allowing company shareholders to split company shares between them, while deferring taxes. When those exemptions apply, any dividend paid between companies in the context of restructuring is not considered a capital gain.

The first exemption applies to the restructuring of related corporations, and the second applies to all corporate restructurings. Bill C-274 would broaden that first exemption, which we can call the related corporations exemption, so that it applies to brothers and sisters.

Spouses, as well as parents and their children, are eligible for this exemption because it is presumed that they have shared economic interests. However, brothers and sisters are considered to have separate and independent economic interests and are therefore not eligible for the related corporations exemption. That is consistent with other tax rules. For example, a family farm or fishing corporation cannot be transferred among brothers and sisters on a tax-deferred basis.

That being said, although brothers and sisters cannot restructure their participation in a corporation on a tax-deferred basis under the related corporations exemption, they can do it under the second exemption I mentioned earlier, which applies to all corporate restructuring. It is called the “butterfly exemption”.

Now the question is why siblings and their companies would want to have access to the first exemption if they can already achieve the same thing through the second exemption. The answer is that the conditions are less rigorous under the first exemption. The conditions are less rigorous because the companies are linked and are considered part of the same economic group at the time of restructuring. As a result, assets can be transferred on a tax deferred basis within a group of related companies regardless of the composition of assets.

Under the second exemption, known as the “butterfly exemption”, one condition requires a proportional distribution of the various types of assets transferred. The goal of this condition is to prevent tax avoidance.

By way of illustration, I would return to the example my colleague used of three siblings who each own one-third of a family farm corporation. Those siblings could reorganize the company's assets by transferring, on a tax deferred basis, those assets to their individual farm corporations by transferring their proportionate share of each type of asset from the family farm corporation.

There are fewer tax avoidance opportunities under the butterfly exemption because of the requirement that each of the brothers’ and sisters’ corporations must receive its proportional share of the assets of the corporation being restructured. If the proposed amendment to section 55 were passed, as my colleague suggests, the siblings could undertake a business restructuring in which the dividends paid between their corporations would not be treated as capital gains. The consequence of that would be to create new opportunities for tax avoidance in Canada.

I would also like to point out that Bill C-15, which received royal assent in June 2016, included an amendment that tightened the anti-avoidance rule set out in section 55, a rule that Bill C-274 would loosen. Consequently, if Bill C-274 were passed into law, we would be sending a message that conflicts with what Parliament recently decided concerning this particular provision.

I would now like to say a few words about the other anti-avoidance rule that Bill C-274 would loosen, the rule set out in section 84.1 of the Income Tax Act. This anti-avoidance rule may apply when an individual sells shares of one corporation to another corporation that is related to the individual.

For example, an individual might sell shares to a corporation owned by his child or grandchild. In such a case, the proceeds of the sale received by the seller may be considered, in certain circumstances, to be a taxable dividend instead of a capital gain, which is taxed at a lower rate or even exempt from tax if the lifetime capital gains exemption is available to the individual.

Bill C-274 would limit the application of the anti-avoidance rule by excluding the sale of shares of a corporation owned by an individual to corporations controlled by his children and grandchildren. However, that would facilitate the conversion of dividends into capital gains that are taxed at a lower rate or tax exempt. Such conversions of corporate dividends into capital gains taxed at a lower rate could be made as often as the managing owner wants to extract the corporation’s surpluses with tax deferral.

Significant tax planning would occur if Bill C-274 were passed. For example, a high-income shareholder could reduce his income tax by $17,500 for each $100,000 in business profits.

Another important point to consider is the fact that nothing is stopping a parent from selling shares of his family corporation directly to his child or grandchild and claiming the lifetime capital gains exemption on the capital gains arising from the transaction.

In closing, I think that the most important thing to say today is that nothing in Canada’s Income Tax Act prevents corporate transfers. My colleague’s proposal would create opportunities for tax avoidance.

The government listened to Canadians, and then it pledged to do everything in its power to make tax fairness a reality in Canada.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

November 24th, 2016 / 6:10 p.m.
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NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, I have the great pleasure of taking part in the debate on the bill introduced by my colleague from Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques. First of all, I want to thank my colleague for his work on this bill, his commitment, his consultations, and for listening. This is truly a bill that will improve Canadians' quality of life.

I have to admit that I was truly disappointed with the speech by my colleague from Saint-Maurice—Champlain. I represent the riding of Berthier—Maskinongé and part of the regional municipality of Maskinongé is located in Mauricie.

My colleague from Shawinigan represents a very rural area that has hundreds of SMEs, and I know that this bill will improve the economic situation of the regions. It is really frustrating when members pull figures out of thin air, maybe out of their own pockets. I believe that everyone agrees with the principle of this bill. I hope that it will be referred to committee so we can better understand where these figures come from.

I would like to point out that this bill has widespread support from all across the country. I believe it is also important to talk about this bill in my role as agriculture and agri-food critic. I am a member of the standing committee, and we are currently studying the next policy framework. Earlier today, in fact, officials were explaining to us once again how hard it is to find people to take over. It is not easy. The price of land is going up, and access to capital is difficult, so a bill like this one is a step in the right direction.

I should explain a little about the situation facing family farms in Canada. Over the past 10 years, we have lost 8,000 family farms. It is clear that this phenomenon is far from over, and it is important that we tackle the problem head on. There are a number of things we could do, and one of them is to make it easier to transfer farms between family members.

We also know that we have an aging population, especially in the regions. The demand for people to take over these businesses is only going to increase over the next few years. Overall, we are talking about $50 billion in farm assets that will be transferred between 2016 and 2026. Therefore, this bill is very important to the farming community.

At present, farmers look at their farms as their pension fund, and as much as they would love to transfer them to a family member, it is much more advantageous to sell to a stranger than someone who is part of the family. It is really sad, and we need to correct this injustice.

Let us imagine a farm worth $10 million. That farm would be worth $1.25 million more to the farmer after tax if he sells it to a stranger rather than a member of his own family. Unfortunately, sometimes that is the choice that has to be made. Farmers have to sell to strangers instead of passing the business down from one generation to the next, because the tax rules are unfair and completely unfavourable.

The problem with high land prices is that unrelated investors often have more interest in the land itself rather than farming it. Many farmers have to face really tough choices because of this. They have to choose between their hard-earned retirement and keeping production in the family.

Let us not forget that other factors also contribute to the challenges facing our family farms. My Conservative colleague mentioned this. We can talk about the government's role in border control, the government's failure to act on the diafiltered milk issue, and the completely unfair compensation for dairy farmers and processors under CETA. That is the situation facing our farmers and artisanal cheese producers in the regions. Things are really tough.

On top of that, in other agricultural sectors, farmers are really worried about the labour shortage. As we know, in the last budget, the government allocated very little money to agriculture.

All of the measures I listed that are designed to support supply management are really in the government's hands, but it seems disinclined to act or to protect it.

As the member for Berthier—Maskinongé, a rural riding, I understand how important this bill is to the people I represent.

I would like to briefly discuss the importance of small businesses to the regions. As I said earlier, small businesses are responsible for 80% of job creation in Canada. In Quebec, and in Canada as a whole, 98% of all businesses are small and medium-sized businesses.

The NDP believes we must do everything we can to ensure that businesses operate under the best possible conditions to stay competitive in a constantly changing market. The NDP will fight to protect our jobs and our family businesses.

Small businesses are the economic heart of our regions. We all have a favourite restaurant or corner store or a salon where we like to get our hair cut, and we have to support these businesses and encourage them. This is a step in the right direction. We are proud of it. We were all elected to try to introduce good legislative change.

I believe the situation in Berthier—Maskinongé is like that in my colleagues' ridings.

Bill C-274 will improve things. It is a step in the right direction. However, let us not forget that there are other areas we must improve in order to protect the regions. For example, the government promised to lower taxes from 11% to 9%. That is a broken promise. Let us not forget how important it is to develop high speed internet in the regions. We must support our family businesses and the government has to ensure that we have all the tools we need in the next strategic plan.

Our bill is widely supported. I know that my colleague already mentioned it, but there is a list of supporters two or three pages long.

I would like to read a quote by the president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture:

Simply put, if taxation barriers are not addressed, we will see fewer and fewer family farms in Canada. We support [the commitment by the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques and his colleague] to addressing these tax burdens that could cause a significant administrative burden [and] cost...

The bill also has the support of the Association des marchands dépanneurs et épiciers du Québec.

It is unfair. Everyone knows there is work to be done. I think that we have had a good debate so far. However, it is important to ensure that this bill gets to committee. We must have the figures and know where they come from and we must be sure to present something that is going to improve the quality of life for the people living in rural areas who support our SMEs. This bill will really change things.

We hope to have the support of the House and to at least be able to refer this bill to committee. This bill will really change things for Canadians across the country.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

November 24th, 2016 / 6:20 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure I rise today to address the private member's bill, Bill C-274.

In looking at the bill it is important that we recognize that what we are talking about is the transfer of money among family. When we talk about our farmers, small farms, and entrepreneurs, this is something that we are very sympathetic to. I do not necessarily agree with the manner in which the New Democratic member has chosen to try to implement something that most if not all members are very sympathetic to, that being the plight of our small farms and rural communities. There is very much a concerned attitude.

I know within our caucus we have a rural caucus that spends a great deal of time trying to address the many different issues that our rural communities, in particular farmers, are having to deal with. It is a wide spectrum of issues. It is important that we recognize that there is the lifetime capital gains exemption on resulting capital when, let us say, a parent transfers property over to a child. There are already today things in place that at least in part deal with what the member is hoping to achieve.

It is important that we recognize that Bill C-274 would weaken two long-standing anti-avoidance rules, something that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance spent a great deal of time going over. It is very technical. I will avoid that because I believe that he covered it exceptionally well. I would also point out additionally that the bill would provide new opportunities for significant tax avoidance that would benefit high-net-worth individuals and result in the erosion of the tax base. We should all be somewhat concerned about that.

At times, we hear from members of this House, whether within our caucus or even from the New Democratic benches, more often than from the Conservative benches, about the issue of tax avoidance. We have a very proactive Minister of National Revenue who is constantly looking at ways to ensure that Canadians are indeed paying their fair share and looking at ways to close loopholes. Tax avoidance in Canada is a very serious issue. It is an issue that this government takes very seriously. If we can deal with that issue, it allows us to reshuffle that money in a more positive way, ensuring that there is a fairer sense of the way in which taxes are applied.

This weakening undermines the government's expressed intent to ensure that all Canadians pay their fair share of taxes, which ensures that middle-class Canadians have access to the government services that they truly deserve.

It is also important for us to recognize that this bill would send conflicting policy messages, given that we tightened one of the anti-avoidance rules that Bill C-274 proposes to relax, through the first budget implementation act. There is a contradiction there and we would suggest that the budget implementation is the best way to go because it is about tax fairness.

Again, I want to be clear that nothing currently prevents parents from selling the family company directly to their child and claiming the lifetime capital gains exemption on the resulting capital gain. That is a very important point to emphasize.

The proposal brought forward by the New Democratic member could easily be misused by corporations looking for tax-planning opportunities. It would cost the Treasury Board an estimated $800 million a year, a number that would significantly increase in later years. Tax fairness, once again, is one of our core beliefs. Here as a government today, we have had member after member stand in this chamber and talk about the issue of tax fairness. I, for one, have mentioned it on numerous occasions and, no doubt, in the months and years ahead, we will continue to raise the issue of tax fairness, because it is indeed a part of our core beliefs.

No doubt, in the months and years ahead, we will continue to raise the issue of tax fairness, because it is part of our core belief. In that vein, we are currently undergoing a review of all tax expenditures to ensure that they are fair, efficient, and fiscally responsible.

I can assure members that we are currently engaged in pre-budget consultations. We will carefully examine the issue of family transfers in the context of fairness.

I would suggest that we would find it very challenging to find a minister of finance who has gone so far out of his way to ensure that there is consultation in every region of our country, both rural and urban. When we think of the family farm, I can assure the member that when we talk about pre-budget consultations, these are issues that have been raised with the Minister of Finance. For this particular budget that is coming out for 2017-18, things of this nature will have been taken into consideration in terms of how we can help small rural farms and entrepreneurs, which are the backbone of the economy in many ways.

I, for one, am very sensitive to our farming community. As a teenager, I can remember riding on tractors in the fields of family friends. I had the opportunity to get first-hand experience at a very young age of what takes place on farms and the important role they play.

In recent years I have had the opportunity, as all members have, to visit rural communities. One thing that come to mind is the size of the farms. We talk about the cost of land, but when we look at the size, the infrastructure for farmers today is so much more than it was in previous years.

I think it was on highway 2, late at night, I could see a long line of lights coming at me. They were combines in the field in a long row taking the crops off the field. It was most impressive. It gives one a better appreciation of the role we play in providing food for the world. When I think of that, it goes back to, in many ways, the beginnings of the family farm and recognizing how important that community is to our country.

I can tell members that this is a government that is very sensitive to the needs of our farms. We see that virtually every day when the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food talks about the importance of supply management and the importance of taxation.

I understand that my time has run out. I look forward to being able to continue on another day.

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

May 19th, 2016 / 10 a.m.
See context

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-274, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (transfer of small business or family farm or fishing corporation).

Mr. Speaker, my bill would end a blatantly unfair situation that puts business people, farmers, and fishing vessel operators at a disadvantage when they want to pass their business on to a child rather than a stranger. The difference is a big one. For a million-dollar business, the difference can be around $200,000 from a taxation perspective. For a $10-million farm, we are talking $2.2 million less if the owner sells it to a stranger rather than a family member. We have to do something about this. This bill is well thought out to avert any possibility of tax avoidance arising from these amendments. I hope that the members of the House will support my bill at second reading. I am pleased to introduce this bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)