'I'm back in the 1950s': Saint John dentist says proposed tax changes punish women
Change proposed by federal government closes a loophole involving 'passive investment income'
A Saint John dentist and small business owner says she feels tax changes Finance Minister Bill Morneau proposed earlier this month unfairly target her for being a female entrepreneur.
"At 50, I'm just starting my retirement savings. I've worked part-time while my kids were raised, had no maternity leave or benefits," Kelly Keyes Manning wrote in a post online. "I'm 10 years behind my male classmates, having the same student loan debt and little income for the first 10 years of practice."
One of Morneau's proposed changes closes what he sees as a loophole involving "passive investment income." The government describes this as money invested in a corporation for uses other than growing the company.
Money invested this way is taxed at a lower rate, and a business owner can receive dividends from owning stock in the company.
For the minister, this tax break is unfair in that it gives a special tax break for highly-paid professionals who own their own businesses, such as physicians, dentists and lawyers. Morneau said his aim is to make it so that "two people living side by side should be paying roughly the same amount of tax."
"That's our goal," he said earlier this summer on CBC's The House. "We're not going to change our mind."
"Our goal is, as I said, to make sure the benefits of growth for our economy go to all sections of our economy, not disprortionately favour some."
But many small business owners, like Manning, rely upon passive investment income for retirement.
It's also not hidden from the government, she said, but in retirement she'll be in a lower income bracket and taxed at a lower rate.
While the money invested by the business owner in the corporation is taxed at a lower rate, they argue it allows them to save for the future and provide all the types of coverage normal employees benefit from.
The Canadian Dental Association says it's studying what was proposed and will submit a formal response.
"Such changes, if they were to proceed as proposed, could have a profound impact on all small businesses, including dental offices," its website states.
"It's important to note that the government has not created new legislation yet, though they have shared draft legislation as part of the consultation package. There is still time to influence the eventual legislation before it is introduced in the House of Commons in the fall or winter."
Likewise, a Change.org petition to stop the changes has accrued more than 26,000 signatures.
Manning said as a woman she's had to make extra sacrifices. For example, there is no paid maternity leave for self-employed business owners.
Her first decade in the workforce required her to work part-time, pay back eight years of student loans and raise children.
But, despite being 10 years behind, she says she thought she was OK.
Now she's not so sure.
"I'll be left with a very meagre RRSP and probably won't be able to retire before 75," she said. "I don't want to rely on my husbands' portfolio … why did I work so hard?"
Manning feels it's ironic to learn of the proposed changes from the government of the prime minister who describes himself as a feminist.
Instead of empowered, she says she feels like telling her daughters to marry rich.
"I employ six other women in my office," she said. "At this point, I can't encourage my daughters to take the same route as an independent professional. I feel very defeated."
"It feels very regressive. I feel like I'm back in the 1950s."