Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a Kingston, Ontario crowd to expect action on tax fairness in the coming federal budget. Many now believe he may have been hinting that long-awaited federal action to close generous stock option tax loopholes for wealthy Canadians could be coming.
And not a moment too soon.
Every year, it’s estimated that the federal government loses between $750 million and $1 billion in revenue in order to pay for this stock option loophole – 99 per cent of which goes to the top one per cent of earners.
In fact, analysis by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives showed that, in 2013, just 75 of Canada’s CEOs who took part of their salary in stock options collectively got $495 million from these unconscionable loopholes in our tax system.
That’s money that isn’t going towards the services that matter most to CUPE members and to Canadians at large. When precious revenue is going to subsidize the salaries of billionaire CEOs, instead of creating a national child care plan, or keeping much-needed hospital beds from closing, or protecting vital public services against privatization – then we know we have a problem.
With Budget 2017 just around the corner, Canadians are tuning in to see whose side the Liberals take on the question of tax fairness.
“Will the government keep doing the bidding of Bay Street and the billionaire class, or will they keep their promise to Main Street and ordinary Canadians?” asked CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury.
CUPE has been leading the fight for tax fairness and against stock option loopholes for nearly a decade. Prime Minister Trudeau should take this opportunity to follow through on his promise, because it’s long past time for Canada’s wealthiest CEOs to start paying their fair share.
“Governing and writing budgets is all about making tough choices,” said CUPE National President Mark Hancock. “Fortunately, for the prime minister, for his government, and for Canadians, this choice is an easy one: it’s time to close the stock option loophole.”