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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Time to put real fairness in tax system

Published on August 7, 2017

WS-xx-letter to the editor

I read with interest your editorial on July 31 titled “Tax us Fairley,” which raises a number of points.

Firstly, corporate tax rates have been decreased by substantial amounts over the last 20 or so years. The deal was that tax breaks would, in turn, result in the hiring of more people to work and create jobs. That just didn’t happen and big business sits on huge amounts of cash and invested very little in job creation.  

My second point is that maybe the time has come for our government to stop giving lucrative contracts to suppliers who avoid paying their share of taxes by using tax havens or dodge taxes. Changing the rules and enforcement would send a message to those who avoid taxes by moving money to offshore tax havens or in other tax avoidance schemes.  It seems that any business that wants to bid on government contracts should disclose information and pay their taxes here. Our federal government spends upwards of twenty billion dollars annually on goods and services.  So those who wish to cash in need to pay their fair share to get in on those contracts.

It’s time that the government start and hire workers back after the years of cutbacks at the Canada Revenue Agency. We need them to do more to investigate tax evasion so corporate tax dodgers get the message that shifting profits offshore is not okay. Taxpayers need to know that the system is fair and it's estimated that there is at least $261 billion of Canadian corporate money in tax havens.

It’s not just a matter of fairness, people suffer great harm because of tax dodging: our roads and highways are in rough shape, wait times in health care are too long, we don’t have enough doctors, our kids are being priced out of a higher education and our seniors are suffering and many can’t afford their medicine.  

My third point is this, are we actually getting our fair share of our natural resource wealth. Do we collect enough from the corporations when they extract our raw natural resource as compared to their revenues derived from that product? Big business uses lots of loop holes to minimize handing over the fair share of profits, profits they gain from that raw natural resource. They often treat workers poorly, do not pay benefits and do all they can to avoid taxes.

Things are not getting better for many people in our communities even though we are continually bombarded with sound bites that things will get better soon. It’s time to hold them to account and put some real fairness in our tax system like your editorial suggested.

 

Danny Cavanagh

President, Nova Scotia Federation of Labour