taxation

Ten things to know about the 2018 Saskatchewan budget

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 21/04/2018 - 4:13am in

I’ve written a ‘top 10’ blog post about the recently-tabled Saskatchewan budget. Points raised in the blog post include the following:

-This year’s budget was quite status quo.

-Last year’s budget, by contrast, included a series of cuts to social spending. Last year’s budget also announced cuts to both personal and corporate income taxes that were subsequently reversed.

-Saskatchewan has one of the lowest debt-to-GDP ratios in Canada.

-This recent budget announced the phase out of a rent supplement program that helps low-income households afford rent on the private market.

Here’s the link to the full blog post.

Ten things to know about the 2018 Saskatchewan budget

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 21/04/2018 - 4:13am in

I’ve written a ‘top 10’ blog post about the recently-tabled Saskatchewan budget. Points raised in the blog post include the following:

-This year’s budget was quite status quo.

-Last year’s budget, by contrast, included a series of cuts to social spending. Last year’s budget also announced cuts to both personal and corporate income taxes that were subsequently reversed.

-Saskatchewan has one of the lowest debt-to-GDP ratios in Canada.

-This recent budget announced the phase out of a rent supplement program that helps low-income households afford rent on the private market.

Here’s the link to the full blog post.

Five things to know about the 2018 Alberta budget

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 26/03/2018 - 10:20pm in

On March 22, the NDP government of Rachel Notley tabled the 2018 Alberta budget. I’ve written a blog post discussing some of the major ‘take aways’ from the standpoint of Calgary’s homeless-serving sector (where I work).

Points made in the blog post include the following:  this was very much a status quo budget; Alberta remains the lowest-taxed province in Canada (and still the only province without a sales tax); Alberta still has (by far) the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio of any province; and it’s been six years since social assistance recipients in the province have seen an adjustment in their benefit levels (to reflect inflation, for example).

The full blog post can be read at this link.

Five things to know about the 2018 Alberta budget

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 26/03/2018 - 10:20pm in

On March 22, the NDP government of Rachel Notley tabled the 2018 Alberta budget. I’ve written a blog post discussing some of the major ‘take aways’ from the standpoint of Calgary’s homeless-serving sector (where I work).

Points made in the blog post include the following:  this was very much a status quo budget; Alberta remains the lowest-taxed province in Canada (and still the only province without a sales tax); Alberta still has (by far) the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio of any province; and it’s been six years since social assistance recipients in the province have seen an adjustment in their benefit levels (to reflect inflation, for example).

The full blog post can be read at this link.

Ten proposals from the 2018 Alberta Alternative Budget

The 2018 Alberta Alternative Budget (AAB) was released yesterday—it can be downloaded here. An opinion piece I wrote about the AAB appeared yesterday in both the Calgary Herald and the Edmonton Journal.

Inspired by the Alternative Federal Budget exercise, this year’s AAB was drafted by a working group consisting of individuals from the non-profit sector, labour movement and advocacy sectors.

Here are 10 proposals from this year’s AAB.

  1. Introduce a 5% provincial sales tax. The AAB gives the Notley government credit for generating additional revenue by increasing both personal and corporate tax rates, while also increasing tobacco and fuel taxes. However, in light of the very substantial loss in revenue as a result in the drop of the price of oil, we’d like to see the Alberta government take one step further and introduce a provincial sales tax. A 5% provincial portion, added on to the 5% Goods and Services Tax, could result in a 10% Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). This would generate approximately $5 billion annually.

 

  1. Introduce an HST rebate for low-income households. It’s well-known that sales taxes in general have a larger impact on low-income households than on higher income households (that’s because lower-income households spend a larger proportion of their income on consumption). To counteract that, the AAB proposes the introduction of an HST rebate for low-income households.

 

  1. Introduce provincial pharmacare. Many low-income Albertans currently struggle to afford prescription medication; and many employers (especially small businesses) struggle to afford health and dental programs for their employees. Not only would a universal coverage prescription drug plan ensure prescription drug coverage for all; it would take advantage of bulk purchasing, reducing costs for both households and employers.

 

  1. Increase staffing in long-term care facilities. This year’s AAB would hire more registered nurses and health care aids for Alberta’s long-term care facilities. We would spend enough to bring facilities up to the minimum recommended staffing levels. This would result in improved quality of care.

 

  1. Reduce class sizes in K-12 education. Specifically, the AAB proposes to bring class sizes at the K – 3 level down to levels recommended by the Alberta Commission on Learning. We’d do this by hiring more teachers, education assistants and support staff.

 

  1. Reduce tuition fees for all post-secondary students in the province. While we believe the complete elimination of tuition fees is a laudable long-term goal, for this coming budget year, the AAB proposes to reduce tuition fees for all post-secondary students in Alberta by 20%. The AAB would also eliminate the interest on the provincial portion of student loans, as well as invest in grants to current students.

 

  1. On the Indigenous file, create an Intergovernmental Relations position in each provincial ministry. The AAB would invest in cultural capacity-building in all 22 provincial ministries. One Intergovernmental Relations position would be created in each ministry; that role would focus on relations between the ministry and Indigenous peoples, keeping in mind challenges when working across ministries and departments at all orders of government.

 

  1. Implement universal child care. The AAB would expand the Notley government’s current pilot program of $25-per-day child care, making subsidized and regulated child care to all Alberta households. Among other things, we expect this to result in increased labour market participation by women.

 

  1. Increase social assistance benefit levels. Social assistance (i.e., ‘welfare’) recipients have seen the monthly value of their benefits decrease in real terms over the past several years. Today, a single adult (without dependents) on social assistance in Alberta receives just $8,000 annually to live on.[1] The AAB would increase monthly benefit levels by $150 and index these benefits to inflation going forward.

 

  1. Create more affordable housing. The AAB would fund the repair of existing social housing units; it would also provide funding to build new affordable housing for vulnerable populations (e.g., persons experiencing absolute homelessness, the frail elderly, persons with HIV/AIDS). Further, it would provide funding for rent supplements (i.e., financial assistance for rent) to low-income households.

 

In Sum. Budgets are always about choices, and that principle has guided alternative budget exercises across Canada for over two decades. This year’s AAB proposes a costed-out set of policy proposals that would improve labour market, health and education outcomes, while also addressing principles of reconciliation and reducing income inequality.

 

[1] A person with a severe disability can receive more.

Ten proposals from the 2018 Alberta Alternative Budget

The 2018 Alberta Alternative Budget (AAB) was released yesterday—it can be downloaded here. An opinion piece I wrote about the AAB appeared yesterday in both the Calgary Herald and the Edmonton Journal.

Inspired by the Alternative Federal Budget exercise, this year’s AAB was drafted by a working group consisting of individuals from the non-profit sector, labour movement and advocacy sectors.

Here are 10 proposals from this year’s AAB.

  1. Introduce a 5% provincial sales tax. The AAB gives the Notley government credit for generating additional revenue by increasing both personal and corporate tax rates, while also increasing tobacco and fuel taxes. However, in light of the very substantial loss in revenue as a result in the drop of the price of oil, we’d like to see the Alberta government take one step further and introduce a provincial sales tax. A 5% provincial portion, added on to the 5% Goods and Services Tax, could result in a 10% Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). This would generate approximately $5 billion annually.

 

  1. Introduce an HST rebate for low-income households. It’s well-known that sales taxes in general have a larger impact on low-income households than on higher income households (that’s because lower-income households spend a larger proportion of their income on consumption). To counteract that, the AAB proposes the introduction of an HST rebate for low-income households.

 

  1. Introduce provincial pharmacare. Many low-income Albertans currently struggle to afford prescription medication; and many employers (especially small businesses) struggle to afford health and dental programs for their employees. Not only would a universal coverage prescription drug plan ensure prescription drug coverage for all; it would take advantage of bulk purchasing, reducing costs for both households and employers.

 

  1. Increase staffing in long-term care facilities. This year’s AAB would hire more registered nurses and health care aids for Alberta’s long-term care facilities. We would spend enough to bring facilities up to the minimum recommended staffing levels. This would result in improved quality of care.

 

  1. Reduce class sizes in K-12 education. Specifically, the AAB proposes to bring class sizes at the K – 3 level down to levels recommended by the Alberta Commission on Learning. We’d do this by hiring more teachers, education assistants and support staff.

 

  1. Reduce tuition fees for all post-secondary students in the province. While we believe the complete elimination of tuition fees is a laudable long-term goal, for this coming budget year, the AAB proposes to reduce tuition fees for all post-secondary students in Alberta by 20%. The AAB would also eliminate the interest on the provincial portion of student loans, as well as invest in grants to current students.

 

  1. On the Indigenous file, create an Intergovernmental Relations position in each provincial ministry. The AAB would invest in cultural capacity-building in all 22 provincial ministries. One Intergovernmental Relations position would be created in each ministry; that role would focus on relations between the ministry and Indigenous peoples, keeping in mind challenges when working across ministries and departments at all orders of government.

 

  1. Implement universal child care. The AAB would expand the Notley government’s current pilot program of $25-per-day child care, making subsidized and regulated child care to all Alberta households. Among other things, we expect this to result in increased labour market participation by women.

 

  1. Increase social assistance benefit levels. Social assistance (i.e., ‘welfare’) recipients have seen the monthly value of their benefits decrease in real terms over the past several years. Today, a single adult (without dependents) on social assistance in Alberta receives just $8,000 annually to live on.[1] The AAB would increase monthly benefit levels by $150 and index these benefits to inflation going forward.

 

  1. Create more affordable housing. The AAB would fund the repair of existing social housing units; it would also provide funding to build new affordable housing for vulnerable populations (e.g., persons experiencing absolute homelessness, the frail elderly, persons with HIV/AIDS). Further, it would provide funding for rent supplements (i.e., financial assistance for rent) to low-income households.

 

In Sum. Budgets are always about choices, and that principle has guided alternative budget exercises across Canada for over two decades. This year’s AAB proposes a costed-out set of policy proposals that would improve labour market, health and education outcomes, while also addressing principles of reconciliation and reducing income inequality.

 

[1] A person with a severe disability can receive more.

Tories’ Comments about Universal Credit and Self-Employed Show They Don’t Care About Small Businesses

Mike this evening put up a post about how the Tories are trying to justify the removal of benefits to the self-employed under Universal Credits by claiming that it ‘incentivises’ them. Mike makes the point that it clearly shows the cruelty behind the Tories’ policies. They’re all about cuts and making things harder, not about rewards. It’s always, but always the stick, not the carrot.

I’d have thought that to be self-employed, you have to be very well self-motivated anyway. I’ve heard from my father amongst others that to run your own business, you have to get up early and go to bed late. And about half of all small businesses fold within the first two years.

The self-employed and small businessman have it bad enough already, without the Tories making worse. And I think they should seriously consider voting Labour.

Oh, I’ve met enough small businesspeople, who say that they won’t vote Labour, because of the old canard that ‘Labour wants to nationalise everything’. That hasn’t been true since the rise of the Social Democratic consensus in the Labour party. As articulated by Anthony Crossland, this said that you didn’t need nationalisation or worker’s control, provided there was social mobility, a progressive income tax and strong trade unions. All of which have been destroyed under the onslaught of Thatcherism.

But even before then, socialist thinkers like G.D.H. Cole were arguing that Labour should also seek to protect small businesses as part of their campaign to defend and advance the cause of the working class. Cole was one of the most prolific of Socialist writers, and was one of the leaders of Guild Socialism, the British version of Anarcho-Syndicalism. Even after that collapsed, after the failure of the General Strike, he still beleived that workers’ should have a share in the management of the companies in which they worked. So definitely not a sell out to capital, then.

I am also well aware that many small businessmen are resentful of workers gaining wage rises and further employment rights. They argue that they can’t give themselves pay rises, because of the economics of their businesses, before complaining about how much it would all cost them. Well, perhaps. But they can decide how much they charge, and what they intend to pay themselves. And they control their business, not the people below them. I’m sure it’s true that some white collar workers are better paid than the self-employed, but that’s no excuse for not paying your employees better wages.

But a wider point needs to be made here: the Tories don’t support Britain’s Arkwrights, the s-s-small businessmen, who were personified by the heroes of Open All Hours, as portrayed by Ronnie Barker and David Jason.

And yes, I know about all the rubbish about how Thatcher was a grocer’s daughter, who slept above the shop when she was a child. But Thatcher, and her successors, was solidly for the rich against the poor, and big business against the small trader. That’s why they’ve given immense tax cuts to the very rich, and put the tax burden on the poorer layers of society. It’s why, despite repeated scandals, they will never willingly pass legislation to force big businessmen to pay their smaller suppliers promptly and on time.

And it’s why they will always back the big supermarkets, no matter how exploitative and destructive they are. George Monbiot in his Captive State has chapters attacking them. Not only are they parasitical, in that they pay their workers rubbish wages, so that they need to draw benefits, benefits that the Tories really don’t want to pay, they also destroy the small shops in the areas they move into. And they screw their suppliers with highly exploitative contracts.

In an ideal world, the big supermarket chains would be nationalised or broken up as monopolies.

The small businessperson needs to be protected. They, not the big supermarkets, create employment and healthy, living communities. They should be protected, just like the working and lower middle classes, which includes them, should.

And the only party I see willing to do that is the Labour party. Remember when Ed Balls said that Labour ‘wanted to grow your businesses’ to the small traders about this country? It was sincere. I think it was wrong on its own, as it shows how Labour under Blair had abandoned the working class, and was concentrating on hoovering up middle class votes. But ‘Red’ Ed did have a point. It should’t be a case of either the working class, or small businesses, but both the working class and small businesspeople.

Because the small businessman too deserves protection from exploitation. Which they will never get from the likes of Thatcher, Dave Cameron and May.

Ten proposals from the 2018 Alternative Federal Budget

I’ve written a blog post about this year’s Alternative Federal Budget (AFB).

Points raised in the blog post include the following:

-This year’s AFB would create 470,000 (full-time equivalent) jobs in its first year alone. By year 2 of the plan, 600,000 new (full-time equivalent) jobs will exist.

-This year’s AFB will also bring in universal pharmacare, address involuntary part-time employment among women, eliminate tuition fees for all post-secondary students in Canada, speed up implementation of the federal carbon tax, and increase the corporate tax rate from 15% to 21%.

-I’m particularly intrigued by the AFB’s poverty reduction measures, which include a sizeable top-up to the GST rebate, a $4 billion annual transfer to the provinces and territories, increases to seniors’ benefits, and $3.5B in new spending for housing.

The full blog post can be found here.

Ten proposals from the 2018 Alternative Federal Budget

I’ve written a blog post about this year’s Alternative Federal Budget (AFB).

Points raised in the blog post include the following:

-This year’s AFB would create 470,000 (full-time equivalent) jobs in its first year alone. By year 2 of the plan, 600,000 new (full-time equivalent) jobs will exist.

-This year’s AFB will also bring in universal pharmacare, address involuntary part-time employment among women, eliminate tuition fees for all post-secondary students in Canada, speed up implementation of the federal carbon tax, and increase the corporate tax rate from 15% to 21%.

-I’m particularly intrigued by the AFB’s poverty reduction measures, which include a sizeable top-up to the GST rebate, a $4 billion annual transfer to the provinces and territories, increases to seniors’ benefits, and $3.5B in new spending for housing.

The full blog post can be found here.

The Working Poor and the Working Income Tax Benefit

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 23/02/2018 - 2:51am in

Tags 

poverty, taxation

Here is a short research paper I wrote for the Broadbent Institute.

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/broadbent/pages/7073/attachments/original/1519312305/Canada’s_Working_poor_and_the_Working_Tax_Benefit_-_Report.pdf?1519312305

And here is a short summary:

The Liberal government have promised to make progressive changes to the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB) in next week’s budget.

Let’s hope that they deliver. The increased insecurity of work and low hourly wages for many workers mean that many Canadians live in poverty even though they have a significant attachment to the paid work force.

The WITB is directed to the working poor, that is, individuals and families who have significant earnings, and sometimes even work full-time for a full year, but still live in poverty. About one half of all working age persons living in poverty have significant earnings.

Higher minimum wages in some provinces mean that a single person working full time for a full year will earn enough to be above the poverty line. But most of the working poor can only find part-time and insecure jobs, and need additional income support

The WITB currently delivers a meagre average benefit of just $807 per year, and the benefits for a single person are phased out once income passes a very low threshold of just $12,000, well below the poverty line.

The benefit should be significantly increased, and phased out at a much higher level of earnings.

The WITB was also intended to make work pay and to help people transition from social assistance. But just 8.8% of social assistance recipients get any benefit from the program.

Many social assistance recipients would like to work, but face multiple barriers such as loss of health and housing benefits and high claw back rates on every dollar of earnings. The WITB could help, but benefits are paid only after a long lag of up to one year.

The WITB could, together with decent minimum wages, help lift the working poor out of poverty.

But major changes are needed.

 

 

 

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