Talks on taxes continue between Ottawa, CFA

OTTAWA — While the federal government may have partially backed down on its plans to rework small business taxation, the lobby effort is far from over, said farm representatives who attended the Canadian Federation of Agriculture’s lobby day on Parliament Hill in late October.

About 40 meetings took place over a four-hour period with farming organizations from across the country taking part.

And although the federal government’s decision the previous day to backtrack on proposed taxation changes for small business was welcomed by most agricultural groups, more work needs to be done, said Ian Boxall, vice-president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan.

Boxall said APAS and other farm groups are unsure how the government is going to move forward on other proposed taxation changes, such as passive investment and income sprinkling regulations.

Boxall said when farmers are at their busiest times of year at seeding and harvest, the whole family pitches in to help, and that should be represented in income sprinkling.

“The issue that they’ve seen is in the past where it’s gone down to too many people … it’s making it complicated. So that’s hindered the rest of us who are trying to do it with family only.”

Canadian Federation of Agriculture president Ron Bonnett said in a news release that the CFA is glad the government decided against limiting the lifetime capital gains exemption and options to convert income to capital gains.

In a phone interview, he said the trick now is to make sure farm organizations have a seat at the discussion table.

“We really want to be engaged in the details of developing the specific rules around things like in-come sharing and also taking a look at the whole succession planning issue.”

Agricultural organization representatives met with MPs from all federal parties throughout the day to discuss key issues, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the planned federal tax changes.

Negotiations around NAFTA are entering the fifth round in Mexico City during the third week in November and discussions are making Bonnett and other ag representatives nervous.

U.S. President Donald Trump has not spoken kindly about NAFTA and with current U.S. proposed changes being so bad, farmers would be better off with no deal, said Bonnett.

However, he said American farm associations are pressuring the U.S. Congress on the importance of NAFTA and that may change the tide.

“Even if President Trump decides to pull out (of NAFTA), I think there will be a little bit of a fight between him and Congress as to whether he has the authority,” said Bonnett.

While this year marked the 10th year of lobbying for the CFA, Boxall is fairly new to the game.

He said the visit was a great way to introduce CFA members to lobbying and it gave them a chance to speak with government officials.

What surprised Boxall the most about the lobby day was that everyone they talked to, from all sides of the political spectrum, were receptive to discussing agricultural issues.

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