A Roadmap For Tax Reform

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  • More reaction from Mr. Black’s excellent New Start NS site.

    Mr. Black is correct. Any type of report on government is good because it focuses attention on how it operates.

    But like the Herald he is too effusive on what is essentially a status-quo report. I argue that Mr. Black’s position is status-quo; how to maintain and perhaps continue to expand government in a coming environment of falling revenue.
    More reaction from Mr. Black’s excellent New Start NS site.

    Mr. Black is correct. Any type of report on government is good because it focuses attention on how it operates.

    But like the Herald he is too effusive on what is essentially a status quo report. I argue that Mr. Black’s position is status quo; how to maintain and perhaps continue to expand government in a coming environment of falling revenue.

    Jonathan Dean | November 25, 2014 | Reply

  • Comment:
    I enjoy reading your opinion pieces in the Herald.
    Your recent story about the Broten report made me think back to last month’s “Disrupting the Status Quo” Education report, and Ivany’s “Now or Never” report.
    These reports state — no, scream — that Nova Scotia is in serious trouble, and that it has to change, fundamentally.
    But, has anyone asked Nova Scotians and the politicians who represent them if they want fundamental change? It’s a lot to ask of a people who have enjoyed the status quo for a very long time.
    If Graham Steele & Peter Moreira’s books “What I learned about politics” and “Backwater” accurately reflect life here, it’s likely the public will tire of the media excitement surrounding these reports, take the dog for a walk through Point Pleasant Park, and return to status quo.
    Reply:
    I think that Peter and Graham have written worthwhile contributions to the public discussion. But taken as models they point to failure.
    The Ivany and Broten reports are more challenging. They set the stage for substantial change but cannot cause it. That takes political leadership.

    Kevin Macdonald | November 25, 2014 | Reply

    • I think that Peter and graham have written worthwhile contributions to the public discussion. But taken as models they point to failure.

      The Ivany and Broten reports are more challenging. They set the stage for substantial change but cannot cause it. That takes political leadership.

      Bill | November 25, 2014 | Reply

  • 384 million in prizes in 2013 re Atlantic Lotto. Why not tax this? Who would be up in arms re this tax? Replace a current tax we all presently pay with this tax or just add this as a new tax

    Robert | November 24, 2014 | Reply

  • As a small business owner and as someone whose family of 4 is middle class, there is not a lot to like about these proposed changes. I agree 100% that we must eliminate deficit spending and begin paying down the debt. I disagree that the best way to get there is to give tax breaks to the wealthy, increase taxes on the middle class and compund the problem of people not being able to afford their power bills and heating bills in the winter with a carbon tax..

    Instead of eliminating the top tax bracket, it would benefit the province and the economy far more to further increase the basic personal exemption. That money will actually go back into the economy, since it will primarily benefit lower income earners who will likely spend it, instead of sitting in someone’s bank account.

    In addition to this, increasing the small business tax rate and lowering the general corporate tax rate is a move that I see as completely counterproductive. If Imperial Oil or Royal Bank can save some money on their tax bill, where does that go? Maybe to shareholders, in the form of dividens, maybe to executive bonuses, but rarely would the money go back into opening more branches, hiring more employees, or other measures that would directly benefit our province. By way of contrast, in my business in the past year we have used excess funds do things like buy new computers and give staff bonuses – money that is put to use directly in the community (since we purchased the computers from a local business).

    Finally, does the report mention at all the extremely generous MLA pensions and benefits? That should be the very first place to look for spending cuts. I don’t begrudge paying MLAs a competitive salary but the way the system is now, it is a ‘golden ticket’ for life.

    Rather than looking out for the bulk of ordinary Nova Scotians, this report seems to be advocating policies that will benefit the wealthy and large corporations at the expense of the middle class and small business. Such changes are not acceptable to me, nor I suspect would they be acceptable to the vast majority of Nova Scotians.

    Chris Folk | November 22, 2014 | Reply

  • Even if they could understand the report, which I doubt many of them do, do you really think anyone in either of the parties have the kahunas to act? Let me see? How far are we along with the changes recommended in the Ivany report? So far we managed to drive onshore exploration away, no wait, that was not in the Ivany report, that was from the ex. Councillor of HRM, who became a minister in the liberal gov’t!, and decided to act the same day the report came out! Perhaps like the drunken sailor, the whole must hit rock bottom before anyone acts. After all, somebody might get offended.
    Great job you doing Bill, keep it up. Or better still, take another run at the leadership! We really need guys like you now.

    Don Fader | November 22, 2014 | Reply

  • Thank goodness for your clear and balanced assessment of this report. Over the past couple of days I have heard and read nothing but negative feedback from many reactionary commenters most of whom neither read nor understood the entire report but rather chose to cherry pick the individual proposals that inflamed their particular agenda. Taken as a complete package, while these proposals may achieve positive results for the Province they would also achieve political suicide for those who try to implement them – Pity!

    Nicholas Carson | November 21, 2014 | Reply

  • I have areas of concern/questions with certain provisions in the Review as presented.
    Do I understand correctly that it proposes to eliminate the “first time home owner” exemption from HST thereby adding 15% to the purchase of a first time home. This strikes me as being so onerous as to preclude many from ever having a home. Will the next step be adding the HST to rent–or does it already apply?
    Does the HST have to be a consistent figure across al lines to which it is applicable?
    In any event, to successfully implement the Report there must be unanimity by all Parties so that one will not use the implementation by another for political purposes. Highly improbable–but desperate situations demand desperate actions.
    Are our leaders “big enough” to act for the benefit of all? Probably not–so we just keep digging the hole deeper.

    BILL F | November 21, 2014 | Reply

    • Thanks for your thoughts, particularly on the need for the opposition parties to support good but tough choices.

      The new home piece would be less onerous than you say–the 4% federal part would never apply and I think there are other factors. Nevertheless the impact would be significant.

      Bill

      Bill | November 21, 2014 | Reply

  • This report seems to contain several quite valid findings that might eventually produce some economic improvement BUT any report that produces an image of increasing necessary expense to those least able to absorb it while appearing to ease the burden on upper level earners/corporations faces an uphill course to acceptance both politically and generally. Thus, it is unlikely to ultimately find many CHAMPIONS.

    bob mackenzie | November 21, 2014 | Reply

  • Well another study , but written at too high a level such that the average Nova Scotian can relate to .
    A few interesting numbers . One was that only 15% of our revenue goes to goods and services government buys/provides while 8% goes to debt and think it was 37% to salaries .
    Another was that in her method of gaining more revenue she has a pollution tax that starts at $74 million in 2015 and climbs to $239 million by 2020 . Take that away and what would have ?
    Now who is going to pay that pollution tax and what is that impact on everyone ? There is no data that shows the departmental breakdown of revenues and expenses but then she talks about an across the board freeze . Such freezes never work . She is very general about the underground economy yet we know it is huge , especially in tourism accommodations . She hardly touches any dollar figures when it comes to uncollected taxes , write -offs , pension fund future requirements . She also avoids the size of government and provides no comparisons to other jurisdictions . She also avoids the municipalities and their fiscal ties and money flows of tax revenue shared and expenses impacted by her recommendations .
    I think we need a bit more detail to know how each line of revenue and expense to day will change to really see if a recommendation makes sense . We know our numbers of salaried people paying income tax is decreasing as the numbers of residents on pensions and social assistance are increasing . There can be better incentives than just lowering corporate tax but then I thought I read in the Herald Ms Broten has ties to Emera .Hmmm. Lets hear from the Auditor General or our version of the Budget Office next before we change anything . And what about all our crown corporations and agencies ?? Not much mention of how efficient they are financially . We know they generally have the highest government salaries and are under the least scrutiny .We keep adding them and yet do they lower our costs on anything? Let’s get a few number crunchers and bean counters to un-peel this onion a bit more

    PETER S | November 21, 2014 | Reply