Coalition against tax change growing

A wave of outrage and opposition is building in the fight against the federal government’s attempt to impose major tax changes on farmers and other small businesses, says an organizer of a coalition objecting to the changes.

“This coalition is really gaining momentum,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, who specializes in farm and agricultural issues for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

“We’re hoping that the government will listen…. Take the proposals off the table, and then why don’t you launch meaningful consultations with the business community to address any failings in the tax policy without unfairly targeting independent business.”

The Coalition for Small Business Tax Fairness had 35 groups as of Aug. 31, including many major agriculture organizations such as the Canadian Association of Farm Advisors, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and the Canadian Pork Council.

However, the coalition had grown to 55 groups by Sept. 8.

Braun-Pollon said the coalition is hoping people sign an online petition, make individual appeals to politicians and ask professionals to analyze their own situation.

“Call your MP. Call your accountant,” she said.

MPs have already been hearing lots about the proposed changes. The issue was a major item at the Liberal party’s caucus retreat in the first week of September in Kelowna, B.C., and at the Conservative party’s gathering in Winnipeg.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heard concerns from Liberal MPs about the growing outrage against the proposals, which the government has promoted as an attempt to close tax dodges but which many small business people fear could devastate their livelihoods.

Conservative MPs have eagerly embraced the issue as a key difference between their approach and the Liberal outlook on business.

Braun-Pollon said farmers are especially vulnerable to the changes because of the major role that capital gains tax treatment plays on farms, which have a huge component of their assets in land and which need to function as multi-generation businesses.

Farmers and other businesspeople are confused by how the changes could affect them, alarmed by the rushed nature of the comment period, which ends Oct. 2, and upset at the perceived insults from the government aimed at them.

“To be painted as tax cheats by the federal government, simply for accessing tax tools that have been encouraged for use for decades, it’s very offensive,” said Braun-Pollon.

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