News Local

Tax changes will be bad for Canadians

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer

Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MP Cheryl Gallant speaks to a crowd gathered at a tax information session in Cobden recently. She said proposed changes to the tax system will be bad news for Canadians.

Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MP Cheryl Gallant speaks to a crowd gathered at a tax information session in Cobden recently. She said proposed changes to the tax system will be bad news for Canadians.

COBDEN – The proposed Liberal tax changes will be bad for Canadians, especially for farmers, professionals and those who own small businesses.

 

This is the conclusion drawn from a town hall meeting held Thursday at Cobden's Agricultural Hall, in which more than 200 people listened as host Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MP Cheryl Gallant and two tax specialists she invited to the meeting - Charles Rotenberg and Tom West – explained the negative impact the proposed changes would have on residents.

According to the government the changes, part of a tax reform package being introduced to the House of Commons which would come into effect Jan. 1, 2018, are meant to close loopholes used by business and the wealthy in order to make sure they pay their fair share in taxes.

Critics say these changes would hurt those who can least afford it, and drive away doctors and other professionals who would flee to the United States to avoid the extra costs.

“The more I hear about this, the more scared I get,” Gallant said. “This is not something in the best interests of Canadians.”

She said what is being proposed will change the ability of a family member to work on the farm and it will limit the farmer's ability to save for his or her retirement.

“Just as troubling, the changes will make it more difficult for the farmer to pass the farm to the next generation," Gallant said. Under the proposed changes, she said it would cost less in taxes to sell the farm to a stranger or a corporation than to hand it over to their own children.

The MP said doctors are also being targeted by these changes, stating in Ontario they were told they had to incorporate, and now the federal government are making them seem like tax cheats for incorporating.

West described the tax reforms as nothing more than a tax grab, an opportunity for the current government to take as much money as possible to make up for their overspending.

He said the changes would discourage families from going into business together by treating any investment as taxable income. If a mother helps her daughter's business out, for instance, she could be penalized for taking that risk through her pocketbook.

West said any effort by small business owners or farmers to put aside money for a rainy day – those economic setbacks which no one can predict - or save for their retirement will be targeted heavily by the taxman.

“This is not a well thought out piece of legislation,” he said, noting he would not know how to survive under those circumstances. He also criticized the government for going after medical professionals, who invest 15 to 18 years of their life, along with money, to become doctors, then as soon as they start earning a salary, the government decides they are earning too much and want to tax it all away.

“That's nuts,” West said, and will result in doctors leaving Canada and moving south.

Rotenberg said farmers will be penalized if their family members work on the farm, especially of they have jobs off of the farm. To argue against that means pleading your case to the Canada Revenue Agency, which he says whose agents do not have the experience to understand how agricultural business works when it comes to the family farm.

He said it is getting to the point where to avoid tax problems, you simply don't go into business with your family.

Gallant said these proposed tax changes haven't happened yet, as the legislation still needs to work its way through the House of Commons. She said if the public makes enough noise about it, she is certain they can make the government back off.

“This isn't a done deal,” she said. “We can still stop this.”

Gallant encouraged everyone to write to the Finance Minister Bill Morneau and urge everyone they can think of to do the same.

SUhler@postmedia.com