Canada’s Tax Competitiveness After a Decade of Reforms: Still an Unfinished Plan
In the past decade, Canada has undertaken extensive business tax reform, with sharply lower corporate income tax rates, better capital cost allowances, sales tax harmonization, and the virtual elimination of capital tax on non-financial businesses. Further changes are in store by 2012 that will put Canada in the middle of the pack of a broad group of 80 countries.
Over the past several years, however, Canada has lost some standing. In 2005, it was the fourth-highest-taxed country, and by 2007 it had improved to thirteenth highest; by 2009, though, it had worsened to tenth highest. Still, in that year, taking into account the reforms that had taken place, Canada’s business tax structure was better than that of the United States. Canada’s tax competitiveness among the Group-of-7 major industrialized countries has also improved, but still lags that of most other members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Additional reductions of business taxes by 2013 — particularly sales tax harmonization in Ontario and British Columbia and planned federal and provincial corporate tax rate reductions — will further improve Canada’s business tax competitiveness, crucially with respect to the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China.
Yet federal opposition parties are urging an end to further planned reductions of federal and provincial corporate income tax rates. Such a move would be seriously misguided. Not only would it put Canada’s tax competitiveness at a disadvantage among OECD countries, impairing productivity; it would also harm government revenues as businesses shifted their profits out of high-tax jurisdictions and into lower-tax one abroad.
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