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Taxpayers Federation’s Lacey says province’s ‘crushing’ tax rate discouraging business


PICTOU – Benjamin Franklin noted the only things certain in life are death and taxes.

Kevin Lacey, Atlantic director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, spoke to about two dozen business leaders in the county at a Pictou County Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Pictou Lodge Thursday. He spoke about how high taxes and poor government spending are creating outmigration and bad business climate in the province. JOHN BRANNEN – THE NEWS

But if you live in Nova Scotia, you’re likely to be taxed to death.

That’s according to Kevin Lacey, the Atlantic Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CFT), who told about two dozen business leaders in the county at a Pictou County Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Pictou Lodge things need to change in the province.

“Nova Scotia’s high taxes were not created overnight, and we’ll only lower them through a long-term plan that is dedicated to ensure that the taxes Nova Scotians pay are fair,” said Lacey.

The CTF is a non-partisan citizens’ advocacy group fighting for lower taxes, less waste and accountable government. Lacey said the CFT’s new 1-to-2-to-3 tax reduction plan is an affordable, flexible and accountable way for the provincial government to bring in real tax relief for the province.

“The plan works like this: $1 of tax relief for every $2 of new government revenue, legislated over a period of 3 years. If we are serious about growing our economy, creating good paying jobs and bringing our people home, then we need to lower our tax burden on working families.”

From 1990 to 2009, Nova Scotia had the lowest growth in real GDP, at 40.6 per cent. The Canadian average was 55.8 per cent. As outmigration continues, the province’s taxes remain the highest in the country. Lacey has a problem with this.

“You remember Robin Hood? Well, it’s like the government is paying Prince John instead of the poor.”

He cited the province’s handling of the Bluenose II file, which Premier Stephen McNeil has called a ‘boondoggle.’ Lacey noted that when the original Bluenose was launched in 1921, it cost around $35,000 or $400,000 in today’s dollars.

“Now we’re being told that the cost could rise as high as $25 million. In any other business, someone would have faced accountability but instead they’re kept on.”

Lacey also took the One Nova Scotia Ivany Report to task, saying he was disappointed that it focused on the problems the province is facing rather than solutions.

“It was positive to bring forward the issues but negative to not talk more about solutions.”

As far as Pictou County is concerned, the topic of amalgamation and the number of municipalities was discussed and Lacey said the decision whether to merge, amalgamate or dissolve should stay local.

“In Halifax and Sydney, there have been no savings or reduction in costs after amalgamation. I think if municipalities are small and easy to bring together, then it can be advantageous.”

For more business to flourish in Pictou County, Lacey said the single most important thing the province can do is lower the crushing tax rate.

“Businesses want to be in the place where they can make the most money, it’s as simple as that. But under this tax regime, Nova Scotia is not that place.”

Lower taxes, coupled with fewer government handouts to businesses will be a hard pill to swallow for some companies used to funding from the province.

“There’s a long tradition of government handouts in Nova Scotia. It’s much better to reduce the cost for all rather than favour a few companies,” said Lacey. “It’s time to abandon old economic strategies.”

The CTF believes the 1-to-2-to-3 proposal is affordable, since tax reductions will only be committed to if there is money through revenue growth to support it.

According to their proposal, government can reduce whichever tax it believes would have the biggest benefit to taxpayers and the economy.

“It’s a simple and easy to understand a plan that will show taxpayers that the government is willing to and is capable of dealing with the problems of high taxes in Nova Scotia.”

 

john.brannen@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn

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