In response to the government’s proposed tax changes rolled out by Finance Minister Bill Morneau in July, the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) has been working to ensure the government is fully aware of the negative impact these changes could have for the family farm.
AWC carried out this messaging through a series of meetings in Ottawa with the Senior Assistant Deputy Minister of Tax Policy in the Department of Finance, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada on September 11 and 12, and also provided a submission that further supported this messaging.
“We had the opportunity to meet with a number of government officials on The Hill where we pointed out that farmers are being unfairly targeted by tax policy that is supposedly designed to close loopholes on the wealthiest Canadians,” said Kevin Auch, AWC Chair. “We addressed the fact that the proposed changes are at odds with the government’s mandate to decrease taxes for the middle class – which farmers are very much a part of.”
In particular, AWC outlined three major facets of farm management that could be made more difficult under the proposed changes:
First: A farm family’s ability to pass down the operation to the next generation without incurring a massive tax bill and their ability to convert capital into income for the retiring farmer;
Second: Proposed changes to the treatment of passive income that would restrict the ability of farmers to save up funds in the corporation to purchase new equipment or farmland and;
Third: The ability to spread income across contributing family members.
AWC is also concerned that the proposed changes are misaligned with the government’s commitment to grow the agriculture sector, including a goal to increase Canadian agri-food exports from $55 billion to $75 billion by 2025.
“If the federal government aims to grow our sector, eroding tax tools that currently make the family farm viable won’t help the industry in accomplishing this goal,” said Auch.
To support the messaging conveyed to government, AWC commissioned accounting firm KPMG to compile a Q&A document to demonstrate the potential impact on agriculture. Farmers can review this information on www.albertawheat.com.
The federal government is currently holding a consultation period with a deadline of Oct. 2. Despite the timing coinciding with harvest, AWC encourages farmers to participate and to write to their MP outlining their concerns. AWC will continue to press for tax fairness for farmers and will communicate any updates as they become available.