The federal government should scrap or at least delay plans to amend the Income Tax Act as the proposals risk harming the Canadians these changes are meant to help, the Senate Committee on National Finance said in a report released Wednesday.
The committee’s report is the product of extensive study and cross-Canada consultations with the people who have the most to lose under the proposed changes. This work took place with the endorsement of the federal finance minister.
The majority of senators on the committee believe cancellation is the most prudent course of action. However, committee Deputy Chair Senator André Pratte and Senator Éric Forest disagreed.
As an alternative to cancellation, delaying fiscal reform implementation would also give the government more time to consult with businesses and tax specialists on the details of the changes, once these have been released.
Witnesses described in concrete terms the extent to which some changes would be harmful to them. Proposed restrictions on passive investments, for instance, would discourage business owners from saving for capital investments, economic downturns or even parental leave and retirement.
There is another reason for the government to withdraw or delay its proposals.
Over the past decades, various governments have made incremental changes to the tax system, which has become bloated, complex and cumbersome. The last comprehensive review of the tax system took place in the 1960s; the committee believes it is long past time for the government to take a close look at our existing system.
If the government truly wishes to make meaningful, lasting changes toward a fairer tax system — and maintain Canada’s competitiveness with other countries that have simplified their own tax codes — the committee believes the government must embark on a full review of the tax system.
It would be an ambitious, time-consuming and difficult project. But, done well and with input from Canadians, it would leave a lasting legacy of stability and profitability.
The committee urges the government to embrace this challenge.
Read the report, Fair, Simple and Competitive Taxation: The way forward for Canada