Vote Compass: Taxes — the parties' positions

Here are the party positions on three questions about taxes in the Vote Compass questionnaire, and what was behind those answers.

The team of scholars behind Vote Compass gave Canada's five political parties the opportunity to take part in the process to ensure the parties' policies lined up with the way Vote Compass interprets respondents' answers.

All five parties had the chance to answer the Vote Compass questionnaire for themselves, and were given the opportunity to challenge the assessments before the "final codes" went in.

Here are the party positions on three questions about taxes in the Vote Compass questionnaire, and what was behind those answers. Over the coming days, CBC News will look at each of the 10 Vote Compass issue areas.

1) Workers should contribute more to their government pension plan (CPP/RRQ) so that it can offer bigger pensions

  • Strongly agree
  • Somewhat agree
  • Neither agree nor disagree
  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • Don't know

New Democratic Party — Strongly agree

We will work with the provinces to bring about increases to your Canada/Quebec Pension Plan benefit, with the eventual goal to double the benefits you receive. We will work with the provinces to build-in the flexibility for you and your employer to make voluntary contributions to your individual public pension account. [p. 5]

Source:Giving Your Family a Break: Practical First Steps  (April 2011)

In October, New Democrats called for phasing in a doubling of CPP/QPP benefits, to increase the maximum monthly benefit from $908.75/mo. to $1,817.50/mo. Doing so would require an additional payroll deduction of about 2.5% -- less than the annual administration fees on many RRSPs. Doubling the CPP/QPP would, when combined with the current Old Age Security benefit, give Canadians a public retirement security system that would guarantee up to 63% replacement of pre-retirement income, compared to the present 38%.

Source:The public option is the best option to secure retirement savings (January 23, 2010)

Green Party — Strongly disagree

Recent debates about pension reform have pitted the Harper government, with its refusal to enhance CPP, against many premiers and Opposition parties. Pension reforms must be built upon the system that will best create decent pensions that will keep the elderly out of poverty, require minimum additional contributions and have low administrative and investment costs.   The only system that is capable of meeting these goals is the CPP - a proven system that is the envy of many countries. Its systems can be modified to offer enhanced benefits. Everyone is familiar with the CPP, which is in sound financial health with the latest actuarial report noting that it is sound for at least the next 70 years.   Approximately 35% of older citizens are still dependent upon Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) to keep them out of poverty.

This is partly because current the CPP objective of just replacing 25% of the average industrial wage is too low. A 50% income replacement ratio would dramatically reduce the reliance on GIS to keep the elderly out of poverty and reduce the cost of GIS to the federal government by billions annually.   The Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YMPE) should be raised to at least $90,000 and consideration given to raising it to the full ITA limit for Registered Pension Plans (RPP) of ($122,222 in 2009) pending an evaluation/review in a decade.  

Subject to an actuarial evaluation, it is expected that these benefits could be achieved with a phased-in increase of CPP contribution rates, although not through increased contributions by employers or deductions from employee wages. Some of the increase could be covered by redirected reductions in workplace pensions for those with workplace pensions. Redirected GIS savings could be used to offset some of the required contribution increase. [p. 65]  

Source:Vision Green 2011: Seniors (April 2011)  

Canada's current payroll tax system discourages employers from hiring more workers, even when the business needs them. It particularly discourages employers from hiring full-time salaried staff who are entitled to benefits other than an hourly wage or monthly salary. It is more cost-effective to hire temporary and short-term workers or get existing workers to work longer hours, including paid overtime, than to hire additional staff. This leads to greater worker and family stress. Revenue from the carbon tax will allow the Green Party Government to reduce payroll taxes and reduce this perverse incentive. [p. 15]

Source:Vision Green 2010 -- Labour  (January 2010)

Bloc Québécois — Somewhat agree

Text not available in English

Nous disons oui à l'amélioration d'un régime public. Nous devons étudier en profondeur ce qui est proposé et s'assurer de disposer de toutes les analyses pertinentes. Le Congrès du travail du Canada et les fédérations ont des approches importantes.

La proposition consistant à augmenter de façon échelonnée les prestations de la Régie des rentes du Québec et du Régime de pensions du Canada grâce à la majoration des cotisations et à l'augmentation du plafond du revenu cotisable est une approche qui mérite d'être étudiée en profondeur. Cela doit se faire correctement, notamment par une véritable consultation.

Source :Compte rendu officiel - Hansard (23 novembre 2010)

Conservative Party  — Somewhat disagree

Late last year, Stephen Harper’s Government announced plans to provide additional help to Canadians saving for retirement, including self-employed Canadians, through a new, low-cost pension option. A re-elected Stephen Harper Government will work with our provincial and territorial partners to implement the Pooled Retirement Pension Plan as soon as possible in our next term in office. [p. 29]

Source:Here for Canada: Stephen Harper's Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth (April 8, 2011)

On Monday, Jim Flaherty, Canada’s Minister of Finance, secured an agreement with the provinces and territories to go ahead with the Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP). [...] Our Government believes that it’s unfair that millions of Canadians do not have access to private sector pension plans. This is because many Canadians are self-employed and small businesses across the country face overwhelming challenges in offering pension plans to their employees.

This new Pooled Registered Pension Plan will allow these businesses to work together by pooling their resources using a registered financial institution, as well as allowing the self-employed to participate. This means that millions of Canadians who work for small- or medium-sized businesses, or who are self-employed, will have access to quality, affordable, and secure pension plans for the first time.

Source:Securing Retirement for Canadians (December 21, 2010)

Liberal Party — Strongly agree

A Liberal government will work with the provinces and territories to enhance the Canada Pension Plan in two complementary ways. We will support a gradual increase of the defined benefits under the core CPP to enhance the retirement security of all Canadians. In addition, a Liberal government will propose a new, voluntary supplement to the CPP called the Secure Retirement Option (SRO).   The SRO would be available to any Canadian worker who wants it, with maximum flexibility built in. Entirely voluntary, Canadians could, for example, opt to save an additional 5-10 percent of their pay in a secure retirement fund backed by the CPP. Millions of Canadians can’t afford the risk or cost of the stock market or RRSPs. This is an option for them. [p. 31]  

Source:Your Family. Your Future. Your Canada. (April 2011)  

To help working families save for retirement Liberals want to strengthen the base Canada Pension Plan by increasing benefits gradually over time, and give families the option to top-up their savings with a new Supplemental CPP.

Source:Liberals launch "Working Families Tour" (February 16, 2011)

2) How much should wealthier people pay in taxes?

  • Much more
  • Somewhat more
  • About the same as now
  • Somewhat less
  • Much less
  • Don't know

New Democratic Party —  Somewhat more

New Democrats believe in: A progressive tax system; Taxing capital gains at the same rate as salaries or wages; Ensuring that large profitable corporations pay a fair share of taxes; and Targeting tax reductions to help the middle class, working families, and the poor.

Source:Innovating and Prospering in a New Energy Economy

Green Party — Somewhat less

The Green commitment to Green tax relief will: Reduce income taxes, including a stop to the practice of over-taxing married couples. [p. 8]  

Source:Vision Green 2011: Principles guiding the Smart Economy, the Green Economic Plan (April 2011)

Bloc Québécois — Somewhat more

Text not available in English

En matière de finances publiques, le Bloc Québécois se fait un point d’honneur de proposer une gestion responsable en éliminant les gaspillages et en s’assurant que tous, y compris les mieux nantis, contribuent à l’effort fiscal. Le Bloc Québécois propose d’imposer une surtaxe de 2 % aux contribuables ayant un revenu annuel se situant entre 150 000 et 250 000 dollars ainsi qu’une surtaxe de 3 % aux contribuables ayant un revenu de plus de 250 000 dollars.

Le Bloc Québécois demande au gouvernement fédéral d’instaurer une super taxe sur les bonus, notamment en actions, que s’octroient les membres de la haute direction des entreprises afin qu’ils soient tenus de payer leur juste part d’impôts lorsqu’ils obtiennent des primes sous forme d’options d’achat d’actions ou autres véhicules financiers connexes.

Source :Au tour du Québec : budget fédéral 2011

Conservative Party  — Somewhat less

Over the next fiscal year, Year 2 of the Economic Action Plan will continue to maintain and create jobs, and help Canadian workers and families manage through still difficult economic conditions, including: $3.2 billion in personal income tax relief. This includes allowing Canadians to earn more income before paying federal income tax and before being subject to higher tax rates.

Source:Budget 2010 -- Leading the Way on Jobs and Growth (March 4, 2010)

Liberal Party —About the same as now

"Mr. Harper is talking about broad-based tax cuts for the middle class, while I’m talking about targetting tax cuts for the less-fortunate [...] If I see in the budget a permanent reduction in the government’s fiscal capacity to create conditions of equality for everyone, I will vote against it [...] I’m afraid that broad-based tax cuts might put us in a deficit situation from which we wouldn’t be able to emerge."

Source:Just say no to tax cuts: Ignatieff (January 15, 2009)

3) How much tax should corporations pay?

  • Much more
  • Somewhat more
  • About the same as now
  • Somewhat less
  • Much less
  • Don’t know

New Democratic Party —  Somewhat more

We will keep Canada’s corporate tax rate competitive by ensuring that our combined federal/provincial Corporate Income Tax rate is always below the United States’ federal corporate tax rate. [p. 9]

Source: Giving Your Family a Break: Practical First Steps  (April 2011)

Jack Layton and the New Democrats will: Reverse the Liberal and Conservative giveaways. The New Democrats will not implement Mr. Harper’s profligate, wasteful and unproductive corporate tax breaks. We'll restore a uniform 22.12% tax rate – what it was before the Martin and Harper governments began these giveaways. [p. 11]

Source:NDP Platform 2008 -- Balance and Fairness (October 1, 2008)

Green Party — Somewhat more

Cancel scheduled corporate tax rate reductions. [p. 10]   Source: Green Book 2011 (April 2011)   Green Party MPs will [...] Eliminate most corporate subsidies and institute new taxes on corporate activities that harm the environment. [p. 13]   Source: Vision Green 2011: Removing corporate subsidies: Distorting the market (April 2011)

Bloc Québécois — Somewhat more

Text not available in English

En matière de finances publiques, le Bloc Québécois se fait un point d’honneur de proposer une gestion responsable en éliminant les gaspillages et en s’assurant que tous, y compris les mieux nantis, contribuent à l’effort fiscal.  Nous ne préconisons pas d’augmenter les taxes et impôts pour la population et les entreprises, exception faite des entreprises pétrolières, dont on abolirait les cadeaux fiscaux, et celles qui profitent des paradis fiscaux, dont on abolirait les échappatoires. De plus, le Bloc Québécois est favorable à un modèle fiscal qui favorise les PME faisant partie intégrante du modèle économique québécois.

Source:Au tour du Québec : budget fédéral 2011

Conservative Party  — Much less

While other countries will have to raise taxes and employ significant absolute reductions in government spending, our taxes will continue to fall while our budget balance gradually recovers.  For example, we have been and will continue to be cutting the general corporate income tax rate, as was mentioned. It was 22 percent, over 22 percent in fact, when we took office.  It is 19 percent today.  It will be at 15 percent by 2012, and we will achieve the lowest overall tax rate in the G7 on new business investment by next year.

Source:How Canada Got It Right: Prime Minister Harper Speaks to New York Business Leaders About Canada and the Global Recession (September 17, 2009)

Liberal Party — Somewhat more

We will cancel the Harper government’s corporate income tax cuts of January 1, 2011 and January 1, 2012, restoring the 2010 level for Canada’s largest firms. That will still maintain a 25 percent advantage over the United States, and one of the lowest rates in the G-7. Given that Canada’s corporate tax rate is very competitive, using borrowed money to cut it further is not a prudent policy. Our action will ramp up to yield over $5 billion by the second year of our plan, rising to nearly $6 billion within four years. [p.11]

SourceYour Family. Your Future. Your Canada. (April 2011)

A future Liberal government will restore Canada’s corporate tax rate on large corporations to 2010 levels, which were already the second lowest in the G7 and 25% below rates in the United States, and invest the estimated $6 billion in savings in deficit reduction and the priorities of Canadian families.

Source:Liberal motion calls for reversal of corporate tax cuts (February 8, 2011)