Mr. Speaker, I always find it amusing to listen to my two colleagues from Winnipeg. They have a very particular sense of humour. Unfortunately, I do not share that same sense of humour.
I will take 10 minutes to try and talk about a bill that I thought was a bookend when I first saw it. When I saw how big it was, I was taken aback. If you wait a decade to make changes to a system that so obviously needs them, it is clear that special attention needs to be paid once you do make them. This 942-page document is more like a pillow than bedtime reading.
As I said, there are nearly 1,000 very technical pages to be studied in Bill C-48, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act, the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, the First Nations Goods and Services Tax Act and related legislation.
For many people, myself included, it will likely take another decade to analyze and understand what this mammoth bill, this huge document, is all about.
In all, Bill C-48 will amend close to 20 acts and regulations. That is a huge number and it shows that the Minister of Finance, the Prime Minister and others have clearly failed to take action in this regard over the past few years.
Basically, part 1 will implement amendments to the provisions of the Income Tax Act governing the taxation of non-resident trusts and their beneficiaries and of Canadian taxpayers who hold interests in offshore investment fund property. Parts 2 and 3 will implement various technical amendments, once again, relating to the taxation of Canadian multinational corporations with foreign affiliates.
As a result, many Canadian businesses will have to meet new tax obligations in order to abide by the new rules set out in Bill C-48.
Since other changes will be made to this tax framework, businesses will also have to deal with the International Financial Reporting Standards, the infamous IFRS, which require businesses to identify the impact of the changes to the tax legislation and to the tax rate for the period in which the legislation is in the process of being adopted. However, for the purposes of the United States' generally accepted accounting principles or GAAP, the proposals must be adopted.
Do Canadian companies that prepare their financial statements using the accounting standards for private enterprises in accordance with the tax method that has yet to be implemented also have to identify the impact of the changes to the tax legislation and to the tax rate for the period in which the legislation is in the process of being adopted?
If so, companies that present their financial information using the IFRS will have to take into account the changes set out in Bill C-48 when preparing their financial statements for the fiscal years ending after November 20, 2012. On the other hand, businesses that present their financial information using the United States' GAAP will not have to take into account the changes set out in Bill C-48 until the bill is passed or, more specifically, until it receives royal assent.
Needless to say, the CGAs and accounting firms of this world will be fairly busy in the coming weeks and months. What is more, the NDP sincerely believes that we must fight tax avoidance and tax evasion, while preserving the integrity of our tax system. I am sure that this is very important to all members of the House. We therefore support the changes set out in Bill C-48, particularly those that seek to reduce tax avoidance.
In my riding, when people come to see me about the Income Tax Act—which happens more often than one might think, especially middle income earners who are having a hard time making ends meet—they often talk to me about tax evasion. They are really worried about their future.
It is certainly not by weakening regional economies with repressive employment insurance measures, with measures that are no good for a social climate that is already deeply troubled by the Conservative government's inaction when it comes to economic development for the regions of Quebec, that the population will be delighted by or care about a document that is nearly 1,000 pages, like Bill C-48.
The main concern of the people in my region, which was once so prosperous in the manufacturing, farming and forestry sectors, is jobs, jobs, jobs. The Conservatives claim they have created 900,000 jobs. I am not seeing these 900,000 virtual jobs. People are beginning to recognize this sham, and they are disappointed.
This document is a perfect example of an omnibus bill, and that is the only thing my constituents will remember. This bill's massive size is proof that there is still work to be done in transforming such technical amendments into legislation, and in a timely manner, otherwise it will penalize the business community and complicate Parliament's work.
The most recent technical tax bill was passed in 2001. Since then, any changes made between the passing of the two technical tax bills have been made by the Department of Finance through comfort letters. Most of these changes become common practice afterwards, even if they are not enacted in any tax legislation. This was even confirmed by the Auditor General.
In 2009, the Auditor General expressed concern that more than 400 of these comfort letters had not yet been passed into law. As some of my colleagues pointed out, more than 200 of these letters are in the bill to amend various tax laws.
Most tax practitioners are pleased with the comfort letter process. However, the Auditor General's report indicated that they had expressed a need for the legislative changes that the comfort letters identified.
The vast majority of the amendments contained in this bill have already been announced in press releases, the finance department's comfort letters and the budgets for the 11 years that have elapsed since the last technical bill was passed.
The government says that it is worried about the economy. I would like to point out that it has shown a certain neglect and skepticism.
We believe that these amendments will result in increased revenues, which is a good thing, and that they are a good way to reduce tax avoidance. As I pointed out, the vast majority of these measures were put into practice several years ago, and tax measures usually go into effect as soon as they are announced.
The sweeping nature of this bill shows that the government must be more responsible in managing tax laws, and it must ensure that proposed changes to these laws are adopted on a more regular basis.
In closing, we nevertheless support this effort because, as I mentioned, most of these measures have been in effect for a number of years and they should increase government revenues.
What my colleagues and my constituents want is for tax dollars collected as a result of these measures to be invested in our communities that really need them.