Ontario Libs Have Tax Policy All Wrong

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This story about how the Ontario Liberals will raise taxes in smaller municipalities has me on the defensive, especially given that I live in one of these ‘smaller’ communities.

The suggestion is that smaller municipalities need to find ways to support various expansion and infrastructure programs.  On the surface, this is a laudable objective, but it represents a very ‘Torontonian’ view of the rest of the province.

It suggests that everyone needs to find ways to generate more revenue when there’s no revenue to be had, while Toronto goes unscathed.

(Granted, I’m fully aware of the ‘unique’ taxing authority of the City of Toronto, which it does use from time to time).

The real answer to the problem is quite obvious:  tax Toronto.

Don’t be fooled by those that can’t count or who are blind to the real economic situation when comparing actual property taxes.  This does not matter, given the disproportionate differences in actual house prices.

On a ‘mille rate’ basis, Torontonians pay one of the lowest municipal tax rates – in the country!  Vancouver leads the way, which is why their market is hyper-inflated and the province has had to introduce a special real estate transaction tax on foreigners.

Toronto’s mille rate is a meager 0.85 per $1,000 in assessed value.  Timmins is nearly 2.2.  Ottawa looks to be the lowest at just 0.79 (but they’ve got the Capital Commission paying for a lot of activities, so this makes sense).  The average is just a little over 1.00.

Raising Toronto’s mille rate to the average would net hundreds of millions in revenue for the City of Toronto per year.  Instead, Toronto has actually been reducing it’s mille rate.  This is partly because of the provincial leadership’s view of Ontario as Toronto first and the rest, well, myeh.

Be it a higher property tax (what I would prefer), better current assessments of Toronto properties or real estate transaction tax (more politically expedient), the answer should be obvious to everyone, including those in Toronto.

Forcing the City of Toronto to raise their property tax rates would have many positive effects for the province on a whole:

  1. It would end the real estate madness that’s taking place there now
  2. It would transfer economic and growth benefits to the rest of the province, by virtue of the fact that people will leave and set up shop elsewhere
  3. It would ensure that the books are balanced in Toronto, ending the annual ‘palms out’ process that takes place every budget season.
  4. The City of Toronto would finally be able to afford the serious infrastructure that it needs to support the volume of people that have moved into town in recent years – mainly to benefit from absurdly low property tax rates.

Higher regional / rural property taxes are not the answer to Ontario’s tax issues.  Cutting spending is the answer, followed by more realistic taxes on Toronto.

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Want Cheaper/Better Hip Tickets? Change The Tax Law

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Over the last few months, a significant amount of ‘ink’ has been spilled concerning the unfortunate health of Gord Downie, lead singer of the Tragically Hip, the band’s last Canadian tour and the subsequent resulting lack of reasonably-priced tickets for fans.

I checked our local venue and prices have been bid up anywhere from 4 to 20 times a normal price that might have been charged for the Hip just a couple of years ago.

I love the HIp, but it’s hard to stomach spending $500 or $1,000 on a night out to enjoy a band that I’ve seen at least half a dozen times.

But I know who WILL be seeing the Hip:  the corporate types with lots of tickets available for clients from box seats to front-row gawking opportunities and everything in between.

How does this happen?

The deduction of entertainment expenses for corporate tax returns.

Every year, any company can deduct 50% of any expenses related to entertainment of clients.  This includes box seats and other tickets for sporting and music events, along with other events related to entertainment (dining, wine, etc etc etc).

There’s even a suggestion that there’s a substantial amount of fraud concerning these expenses, including inflation of the costs, inclusion of additional ‘guests’ for events and so on.

Closing the loopholes themselves in this deduction would generate an estimated $400 million per year, but this doesn’t include the impact of the deduction itself.

I couldn’t find any studies that assess the impact of the tax deduction on general revenue.  That’s likely because no one wants one.  Of course, if you know of a study, please let me know.

That said, it’s safe to say that when Canada’s economy is worth $1.5 trillion per year in economic activity, even if entertainment was worth 1% of this amount, it would be worth $15 billion per year.

And a good chunk of that $15 billion per year is being written off by Lexus lawyers and Beemer punks looking for a good show.

That’s a lot of inflated value when it comes to the cost of tickets, driving them into the stratosphere.

So … if you really want to bitch about the high cost of Tragically Hip tickets, look to the cause, not the tools like Tickermaster and Stubhub.

And then do something about:  insist that our government put an end to the entertainment tax deduction.

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I am at my capacity for tolerance.

I fear that any events – pick even one – will be funneled into hatred and a message of fear for clowns like Donald Trump.

I was looking for an artist – musician, painter, anything – that would capture how I feel right now.

Someone that sends a message about what we are. What we’re doing. Why it’s important to feed love and compassion and starve hate and racism.

Of Monsters and Men come close:

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The Day America Died

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Let’s see … add 1 racist Presidential candidate

meet in a state that has ‘open gun’ laws

… allow everyone to get together in a powder keg situation

… add a few killings of good people (and some not so good people) on all sides of the political spectrum

… stir in an anxious and upset police force that just saw a number of associates get killed in Dallas

What do you get?

A recipe for disaster.

Call me alarmist, but I believe the Republican National Congress meeting in Ohio on July 16, 2016 will be remember as the day America died.


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Brexit: Intentional Corporate Fragmentation

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Nothing makes an international conglomerate more excited than fragmentation.

Companies that go beyond national boundaries will do anything to fragment the voices and politics of any state, region or province.

And this is why, after all the shouting about racism and nationalism and a whole bunch of other empty accusations, the true reason behind Brexit has just become painfully obvious.

Reductions in corporate taxes.

Companies that set up in Britain have been promised massive cuts in the taxes they’ll have to pay, giving them a free ride and access to one of the world’s largest single-country economies.

Of course, I don’t believe the Minister of Finance of Britain has the authority to do something like this, given that there are no leaders and all of those supporting Brexit have cowardly shriveled away under the rocks from which they originated.

But those latter snakes don’t have to care because they’ve done their work.  They’ve turned Britain into a lesser country that has to drop its proverbial pants for the world’s money machines.

Good luck Britain.  Your standard of living will become like all those other jurisdictions that are in the race to the bottom just to get a few low-wage call centres or sweat shops in your homeland.

Case in point:  Canada during the Harper years.  Ontario lost so much of its manufacturing sector that it’ll never recover and is now selling off public institutions like Hydro One to make a few bucks to pay a million.

Tax cutting is admission of failure with public policy.

As mentioned, next on the list will be an array of public institutions going up on the auction block for the lowest bidder.

Thatcher days will seem pleasant and bright compared to what’s coming for the average Brit.

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