Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Morneau Talks of 'Technical Fixes' to Reassure Farmers over Tax Proposals

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Morneau Talks of 'Technical Fixes' to Reassure Farmers over Tax Proposals

Article excerpt

Morneau tries to reassure farmers on taxes

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OTTAWA - Finance Minister Bill Morneau tried to reassure farmers Thursday that Ottawa's controversial tax proposals, if introduced, wouldn't impair their ability to bequeath the family farm to the next generation.

Morneau said Thursday that "technical fixes" for the federal proposals may be on the way amid concerns the reforms could add significant costs for those who seek to keep their farms in the family.

The minister was among more than a dozen witnesses testifying before a parliamentary committee that's examining proposed tax changes for private corporations -- measures that have subjected the Trudeau government to an onslaught of public and political outrage.

Opponents of the reforms insist the changes would hurt Canadians at different income levels and from many different sectors, including doctors, farmers and small business owners.

Farmers have raised particular concerns about elements of the proposed changes that some estimates say could see families taxed twice for inter-generational transfers of their operations.

"Our goal is not, and will not be, to change the ability to move a family business, a family farm, a fishing business from one generation to the next," Morneau said after his appearance.

"There may be technical fixes to make sure that we get that right."

Morneau also warned that critics are spreading misinformation about the proposed tax changes, particularly when it comes to how they might affect farmers.

The Liberal government has been engaged in a communications war over its plan, which it insists would end tax advantages unfairly exploited by some wealthy business owners.

Morneau argues the proposals are designed to create a fairer tax system, especially for those in the so-called middle class, but he says he's open to adjusting it after a public consultation period ends next week.

The proposal package includes restrictions on the ability of business owners to reduce their tax rate by sprinkling their income to family members in lower tax brackets, even if those family members do not contribute to the company.

Morneau has also proposed limits on the use of private corporations to make passive investments that are unrelated to the company. Another change would limit the ability of business owners to convert regular income of a corporation into capital gains, which are typically taxed at a lower rate.

Critics of the plan say it would hurt entrepreneurs who take personal financial risks when they decide to open a business, hire staff, save for retirement, save for maternity leave and sock away funds for economic downturns. …

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