Canadians sometimes make strange choices about how we want government to spend the tax money we hand over every year. A recent poll from the Angus Reid Institute is a startling illustration of that.
When the polling firm asked Canadians if they would like to have a pharmacare system, they got a resounding “yes.” Then they asked Canadians how they would like to pay for that. The choices included increasing the GST, restoring the corporate tax rate to 18 per cent, increasing the basic income tax rate, or charging a pharmacare premium. While restoring the corporate tax rate seemed like a good idea to more than half the respondents, the idea of any kind of tax increase wasn’t particularly popular. And that’s understandable.
But an important option was missing — and that’s where Angus Reid seemed to miss the point.
Eliminating tax haven use could save Canada almost $8 billion a year. That’s enough to cover universal public prescription coverage almost eight times over.
Time after time, budget after budget, poll after poll, those in charge make it sound as if we’re too poor as a country to afford the programs that would really improve Canadians’ lives. The fact that revenues are lost to poor policy on tax havens and loopholes is often conveniently ignored.
Shifting money to tax havens is the purview of wealthy Canadians and corporations who don’t want to follow the spirit of the law. And they spend a lot of time and money trying to convince the rest of us that it is their right to play that game.
That may have worked for decades — but change is afoot. Although it may still be legal, there is increasing awareness of the widespread damage tax-avoidance inflicts and the potential that it thwarts. (more...)