U.S. President Calvin Coolidge said in 1925 that “The chief business of the American people is business,” a line often mis-quoted as “The business of America is business.” No Canadian prime minister has ever dared be so pro-business.
With oil prices plunging and provincial resource revenues expected to drop, Alberta’s red ink will rise. In response, Premier Jim Prentice has floated the notion of a provincial sales tax and/or hikes in other taxes.
Business investment decisions are of course complex. Among the many factors that a company considers before deciding where to set up operations, expand, or relocate are a jurisdiction’s regulatory burden, market proximity, labour availability, and transportation infrastructure.
News that Burger King and Tim Horton’s are merging and that the new company will be headquartered in Canada has taken the business and political world by storm. U.S. politicians and left-of-centre groups denounced the transaction as “tax dodging” and warned of a public backlash against the well-known burger chain.
"Income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf," said the American humourist Will Rogers. Indeed, but lets not stop there. In Canada, debates over taxes, government and civilization lead some journalists and others into the land of make-believe, this by setting up straw men to knock down.
For example, consider a recent CBC story headlined "Not all business people hate taxes - but just try to get them to admit it."
To which one can only say: This is news?
One item sorely missing from Finance Minister Mike de Jongs recent provincial budget was a plan to make BCs business taxes more competitive and attractive for investment.
Last month, British Columbias Expert Panel on Business Taxation delivered its much anticipated final report (at least among us policy wonks). Unfortunately, the report garnered little media attention and failed to spark much debate about BCs tax competitiveness.
The Expert Panel was appointed early this year by then-Finance Minister Kevin Falcon; it was made up of a cross-section of people from business, academia, and government to provide recommendations on how BCs business taxes could be made more competitive given the return of the PST in 2013.