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Ottawa’s capital gains tax hike—final nail in ‘business investment’ coffin

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4 minute read

From the Fraser Institute

By Tegan Hill and Jake Fuss

From 2014 to 2022, inflation-adjusted total business investment (in plants, machinery, equipment and new technologies but excluding residential construction) in Canada declined by C$34 billion. During the same period, after adjusting for inflation, business investment declined by a total of $3,748 per worker

According to the recent federal budget, the Trudeau government plans to increase the inclusion rate from 50 per cent to 66.7 per cent on capital gains over $250,000 for individuals and on all capital gains realized by corporations and trusts. Unfortunately, this tax hike will be the final nail in the coffin for business investment in Canada, which likely means even harder economic times ahead.

Canada already faces a business investment crisis. From 2014 to 2022, inflation-adjusted total business investment (in plants, machinery, equipment and new technologies but excluding residential construction) in Canada declined by C$34 billion. During the same period, after adjusting for inflation, business investment declined by a total of $3,748 per worker—from $20,264 per worker in 2014 to $16,515 per worker in 2022.

While business investment has declined in Canada since 2014, in other countries, including the United States, it’s continued to grow. This isn’t a post-COVID problem—this is a Canada problem.

And Canadians should be worried. Businesses investment is key for strong economic growth and higher living standards because when businesses invest in physical and intellectual capital they equip workers with the tools and technology (e.g. machinery, computer programs, artificial intelligence) to produce more and provide higher quality goods and services, which fuels innovation and higher productivity. And as firms become more efficient and increase profits, they’re able to pay higher wages, which is why business investment remains a key factor for higher incomes and living standards.

The Trudeau government’s policies—increased regulation, particularly in the energy and mining sectors (which makes Canada a relatively unattractive place to do business), higher and uncompetitive taxes, and massive federal deficits (which imply future tax increases)—have damaged business investment.

Unsurprisingly, weak business investment has correlated with a weak economy. In the fourth quarter of 2023, real economic growth per person ($58,111) officially fell below 2014 levels ($58,162). In other words, Canadian living standards have completely stagnated. In fact, over the last decade economic growth per person has been the weakest on record since the 1930s.

Instead of helping fix the problem, the Trudeau government’s capital gains tax hike will further damage Canada’s economy by reducing the return on investment and encouraging an exodus of capital from the country. Indeed, capital gains taxes are among the most economically-damaging forms of taxation because they reduce the incentive to invest.

Once again, the Trudeau government has enacted a policy that will deter business investment, which Canada desperately needs for strong economic growth. The key takeaway for Canadians? Barring a change in policy, you can expect harder times ahead.

Automotive

Government subsidies cost more than EV capital investments

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From the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Author: Franco Terrazzano

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling for an end to corporate welfare following today’s Parliamentary Budget Officer report showing government subsidies are 14 per cent more than the capital investments corporations are making in the electric-vehicle supply chain.

“Putting taxpayers on the hook for more money than these corporations are spending to build their own factories is an awful deal for ordinary Canadians,” said Franco Terrazzano, CTF Federal Director. “Taxpayers are being taken to the cleaners with this EV corporate welfare.”

The PBO released a report regarding recent government subsidies for EV factories.

“For the $46.1 billion in investments (capital expenses) across the EV supply chain, PBO estimates total corresponding government support (for capital and operating expenses) to be up to $52.5 billion, which is $6.3 billion (14 per cent) higher than announced investments,” according to the PBO report.

Of the $52.5 billion in taxpayer subsidies, the PBO estimates $31.4 billion is coming from the federal government and $21.1 billion is coming from provincial governments.

“These lopsided numbers show that these corporate handouts are nothing more than a vanity project for politicians,” said Jay Goldberg, CTF Ontario Director. “If these politicians want to grow the economy, they should cut taxes and red tape rather than make bad bets with taxpayers’ money.”

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Alberta

Alberta gets credit boost because of budget discipline

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News release from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Author: Kris Sim

“bringing net adjusted debt to an estimated CAD 57.5 billion in fiscal 2024 (ended on March 31) from CAD 74.6 billion in fiscal 2022”

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is applauding the Alberta government for its fiscal discipline which earned the province a boost in its credit rating.

“Alberta is one of the only provinces in Canada with a balanced budget, and it shows with this credit upgrade,” said Kris Sims, CTF Alberta Director. “Paying down the debt, restraining spending and saving for the future were very good moves by this government.”

In its most recent budget, Alberta reported a $367-million surplus. That stands in contrast to neighbouring Saskatchewan’s $273-million deficit and British Columbia’s record-breaking $7.9-billion deficit.

The rating agency, Fitch, upgraded Alberta’s credit from AA- to AA this week, highlighting its debt repayment as a key reason for the improvement.

“Alberta used its recent economic rebound to accelerate fiscal improvements and lower its debt, bringing net adjusted debt to an estimated CAD 57.5 billion in fiscal 2024 (ended on March 31) from CAD 74.6 billion in fiscal 2022,” the Fitch report reads.

The agency also cited Alberta’s spending restraint as a reason for the positive outlook.

“The rapid decline in debt and adherence to spending restraint in recent budgets have been complement with last year’s introduction of a fiscal framework requiring balanced budgets, annual contingencies and using surpluses for debt repayment, savings or one-time investment, is likely to bolster future resilience,” the Fitch report reads.

Interest charges on the province’s debt are estimated to cost taxpayers $3.3 billion this year.

“Credit ratings matter because Albertans pay billions of dollars on interest payments on the debt every year, better credit ratings make it less expensive to pay for that debt, and the less money we waste to pay debt interest charges the better,” said Sims.

 

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