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CFIB Promotes Tax Reductions

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 11 February 2003 00:00

In anticipation of the February 18th British Columbia budget, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released new survey data which revealed that tax reductions over the past year and a half helped encourage growth and hiring among British Columbia's small businesses.

"These recent tax reductions have been well received by BC small businesses and have led to an increased level of optimism for the year ahead," stated Dan Kelly, CFIB's vice-president for Western Canada. "While the tax cuts have been significant, it is also important to note that 60 per cent of small firms said last year's increase in health care premiums negatively affected their businesses and 53 per cent said the increased provincial sales tax had a negative impact."

CFIB represents 10,000 small and medium-sized businesses in British Columbia, with 103,000 members across Canada. These businesses, which include home-based business, home-incubated companies and ventures with less than 50 employees, make strong contributions to local economies and represent a significant proportion of property owners.

To promote small business interests in provincial and federal budgets, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business lobbies for tax reductions for small and medium-sized business - a driving force in the Canadian economy.

In its submission to BC Finance Minister Collins, CFIB outlined a number of key recommendations for the upcoming budget:

  • Eliminate the budgetary deficit by 2004/05 and pay down the debt thereafter

  • Increase the small business corporate tax threshold to $400,000, in keeping with the plans of other jurisdictions such as Alberta and Ontario

  • Immediately expand the number of business inputs exempt from provincial sales tax (PST) and reduce the PST rate after the budget is balanced

    "While we understand that this will be another tight budget, we urge government to continue to make progress in lowering key taxes, such as the small business corporate income tax," Kelly said. "Above all else, we believe this government must stick to its commitment of eliminating the budgetary deficit by 2004/05, and avoid any future tax increases. A full 84 per cent of our members said balancing the budget was a top priority in a recent survey, as they understand that running a deficit simply represents future tax pressures."

    In Saskatchewan, CFIB fought for tax reductions by opposing the move to give municipalities the additional power to introduce new taxes such as their own fuel or hotel taxes. In a provincial CFIB survey, their members responded with 81 per cent opposition to the City of Regina's preference for expanded taxing authority rather than increased provincial grants. CFIB also raised concerns when a majority of municipalities at the 2002 Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) convention voted in favour of a resolution to examine the creation of other municipal revenue streams. As well, CFIB met with the Mayors of Saskatchewan's 13 Cities to lobby against this plan.

    The sentiment in Ontario was similar. In an extensive 2002 survey of municipal politicians from 458 Ontario municipalities, the majority of respondents opposed municipalities having their own local sales or income taxes.

    "Municipal issues are increasingly shaping the environment within which small business owners operate, so it is more important than ever that there be dialogue between local councils and the small business community," said CFIB's Ontario vice president Judith Andrew.

    On an aggregate basis, the survey results show 66 per cent of mayors oppose municipalities having their own local sales taxes, while 19 per cent support the concept, and 15 per cent are undecided. When asked about the possibility of having their own income tax, 71 per cent of mayors opposed the idea, with 14 per cent supporting it and 15 per cent undecided. Andrew said small business owners overwhelmingly oppose both measures.

    On the property tax front, 62 per cent of mayors oppose the notion of equalizing tax rates across all property classes. Andrew noted this is a re-balancing strategy favored by small business owners. However, just as 68 per cent per cent of CFIB's small business members support the creation of a business assessment threshold that attracts taxes at a lower rate, so do nearly half of Ontario mayors.

    Although CFIB recognizes the fiscal pressures on municipalities, particularly for infrastructure, a Saskatchewan CFIB spokesperson said that rather than adding another layer into the mix, small business believes a better solution would involve municipalities examining ways to spend more efficiently and work more cooperatively with senior levels of government. "It is important for everyone involved to remember that while we have three levels of government in Canada, there is only one level of taxpayer," concluded the spokesperson.

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