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Economy

Prime minister’s misleading capital gains video misses the point

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5 minute read

From the Fraser Institute

By Jake Fuss and Alex Whalen

According to a 2021 study published by the Fraser Institute, 38.4 per cent of those who paid capital gains taxes in Canada earned less than $100,000 per year, and 18.3 per cent earned less than $50,000. Yet in his video, Prime Minister Trudeau claims that his capital gains tax hike will affect only the richest “0.13 per cent of Canadians”

This week, Prime Minister Trudeau released a video about his government’s decision to increase capital gains taxes. Unfortunately, he made several misleading claims while failing to acknowledge the harmful effects this tax increase will have on a broad swath of Canadians.

Right now, individuals and businesses who sell capital assets pay taxes on 50 per cent of the gain (based on their full marginal rate). Beginning on June 25, however, the Trudeau government will increase that share to 66.7 per cent for capital gains above $250,000. People with gains above that amount will again pay their full marginal rate, but now on two-thirds of the gain.

In the video, which you can view online, the prime minister claims that this tax increase will affect only the “very richest” people in Canada and will generate significant new revenue—$20 billion, according to him—to pay for social programs. But economic research and data on capital gains taxes reveal a different picture.

For starters, it simply isn’t true that capital gains taxes only affect the wealthy. Many Canadians who incur capital gains taxes, such as small business owners, may only do so once in their lifetimes.

For example, a plumber who makes $90,000 annually may choose to sell his business for $500,000 at retirement. In that year, the plumber’s income is exaggerated because it includes the capital gain rather than only his normal income. In fact, according to a 2021 study published by the Fraser Institute, 38.4 per cent of those who paid capital gains taxes in Canada earned less than $100,000 per year, and 18.3 per cent earned less than $50,000. Yet in his video, Prime Minister Trudeau claims that his capital gains tax hike will affect only the richest “0.13 per cent of Canadians” with an “average income of $1.4 million a year.”

But this is a misleading statement. Why? Because it creates a distorted view of who will pay these capital gains taxes. Many Canadians with modest annual incomes own businesses, second homes or stocks and could end up paying these higher taxes following a onetime sale where the appreciation of their asset equals at least $250,000.

Moreover, economic research finds that capital taxes remain among the most economically damaging forms of taxation precisely because they reduce the incentive to innovate and invest. By increasing them the government will deter investment in Canada and chase away capital at a time when we badly need it. Business investment, which is crucial to boost living standards and incomes for Canadians, is collapsing in Canada. This tax hike will make a bad economic situation worse.

Finally, as noted, in the video the prime minister claims that this tax increase will generate “almost $20 billion in new revenue.” But investors do not incur capital gains taxes until they sell an asset and realize a gain. A higher capital gains tax rate gives them an incentive to hold onto their investments, perhaps until the rate is reduced after a change in government. According to economists, this “lock-in” effect can stifle economic activity. The Trudeau government likely bases its “$20 billion” number on an assumption that investors will sell their assets sooner rather than later—perhaps before June 25, to take advantage of the old inclusion rate before it disappears (although because the government has not revealed exactly how the new rate will apply that seems less likely). Of course, if revenue from the tax hike does turn out to be less than anticipated, the government will incur larger budget deficits than planned and plunge us further into debt.

Contrary to Prime Minister Trudeau’s claims, raising capital gains taxes will not improve fairness. It’s bad for investment, the economy and the living standards of Canadians.

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Economy

ESG rankings have no significant effect on investment performance of Canadian public companies

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From the Fraser Institute

By Steven Globerman

Despite claims to the contrary, the ESG rankings of publicly-traded Canadian companies have no significant effect on investment returns, finds a new study published today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian
public policy think-tank.

“While government regulators and some industry executives promote the benefits of ESG investing, there’s no evidence of significant advantages for investors,” said Steven Globerman, senior fellow at the Fraser Institute and author of ESG Investing and Financial Returns in Canada.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) is a movement designed to pressure businesses and investors to pursue larger social goals. In Canada, due to government securities regulation, publicly-traded companies must disclose ESG-related
information on a range of issues including environmental impact, human rights, and equity and inclusion.

ESG advocates claim that government-mandated ESG disclosures improve the financial performance of companies.
However, the study—the first empirical analysis of the relationship between changes in the ESG rankings of Canadian publicly-traded companies and equity returns— tracked 310 companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange from 2013 to 2022 and found no significant relationship between changes in ESG ranking (upgrades or downgrades) and financial returns, as measured by the price of shares and dividend income.

In other words, advocates for greater ESG disclosures cannot accurately claim—based on Canadian evidence—that requiring companies to provide more information for ESG rankings will significantly affect the financial performance of Canadian
investors.

“Better performance on ESG rankings simply does not translate into better financial performance for Canadian firms,” Globerman said.

  • ESG investing incorporates environmental (E), social (S), and governance (G) considerations into investment decisions. Until recently, ESG-themed investing comprised an increasing share of investments made by professional money managers and retail investors.
  • Financial industry executives and regulators who have promoted ESG-themed investing argue that it will enhance investment performance either by increasing asset returns and/or by reducing investment risk.
  • However, empirical studies, on balance, find no consistent and statistically significant evidence of a positive relationship between the ESG rankings of individual companies or portfolios of companies and the financial performances of those companies or investment portfolios.
  • Most empirical studies have focused on US-based publicly traded companies. To our knowledge, this study is the first to focus on returns to ESG-themed investing for Canadian-based public companies.
  • Using data from MSCI, a leading ESG ratings provider, we estimate the statistical relationship between changes in ESG rankings of companies and changes in equity returns for those companies using a sample of 310 companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange between 2013 and 2022.
  • Our study finds that neither upgrades nor downgrades in ESG ratings significantly affect stock market returns.

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Economy

400,000 more Canadians live in poverty now compared to 2020: gov’t report

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From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

A report by the federal government has found that ‘9.9 percent of Canadians, some four million people, live in poverty compared to 6.4 percent in 2020, the equivalent of approximately 400,000 more Canadians.’

Decades of progress in lowering the poverty rate in Canada has been wiped out in the last few years under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, one of his own federal departments has reported.

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, a recently released report dated December 11, 2023 by the Department of Social Development “estimates” that “9.9 percent of Canadians, some four million people, live in poverty compared to 6.4 percent in 2020, the equivalent of ‘approximately 400,000 more Canadians,’” and that “[f]uture increases in the rate of poverty could stall progress towards reaching the 2030 poverty reduction target of a 50 percent reduction in poverty versus 2015 levels.” 

The report observed that high inflation in Canada combined with “lagging household incomes” has led to “affordability pressures among many households.” 

While the uptick in the poverty rate is certainly concerning for many Canadians, it may come as little surprise as this is not the first time one of Trudeau’s own departments has warned of such a trend.

In January, the National Advisory Council on Poverty (NACP) observed to Parliament that fast-rising food costs have led to many people feeling a sense of “hopelessness and desperation.”

“Persons with lived expertise of poverty and service providers alike told us things seem worse now than they were before and during the first years of the pandemic,” read the NACP report.  

“We heard that people are worried about the rising cost of living and inflation,” it continued, adding, “More people are in crisis and these crises are more visible in our communities.” 

The damning figures comes as critics, including the nation’s leading taxpayer watchdog, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, have warned that the Trudeau government’s deficit spending and oft-increasing tax regime has been putting undue strain on the pocketbooks of its citizens.

Previously speaking to LifeSiteNews, CTF federal director Franco Terrazzano urged the Trudeau government to cut spending, balance the budget and “completely scrap” the “carbon tax.”

“More debt means more money wasted on interest charges and less room to cut taxes,” Terrazzano stated, warning that “[i]n a handful of years, every penny collected from the GST (Goods and Service Tax) will go toward paying interest on the debt.”

Under Trudeau, Canadians have seen their overall tax rate go up thanks to the punitive carbon tax that affects all goods and services in the nation. 

Even the Bank of Canada, the nation’s central bank, has taken issue with Trudeau government policy, acknowledging last year that some of its federal “climate change” programs, which have been deemed “extreme” by provincial leaders, are helping to fuel inflation. 

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