Elaine: Thank you for sharing this with me. I would simply respond to this letter, that is rife with nonsense, by asking Denise Savoie where is the NDP Party’s proof of tax leakage, and what is remotely fair about income trusts being double taxed in RRSPs when they aren’t double taxed when held in a pension plan? The issues, like “overvaluation” that Denise attempts to defend her party’s action with are complete revisionist history and to suggest that Diane Urquhart is widely respected is nonsensical in the extreme. Thanks again for sharing Brent
On 2/26/10 7:36 PM, xxxx wrote:
----- Forwarded Message ----
To: Elaine xxxxx
Sent: Fri, February 26, 2010 11:33:12 AM
Subject: RE: Income Trust Issue
February 26th, 2010
Thank you for writing to share your thoughts regarding income trusts. The issue of income trusts has been a difficult issue for many, as I know the Conservative government’s decision to tax trusts has had a serious impact on some of my constituents who were perhaps over-invested in trusts at the expense of a balanced portfolio. I’m deeply sorry if this has hurt you. In the months after the Finance Committee hearings into income trusts and before the recent Liberal motion, I spent time researching the issue and seeking out the wisest financial advice at my disposal to arrive at a decision.
Some of you have asked why I supported the Conservative plan to tax income trusts. I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight and to share my thought process with you.
I must first clarify that I do not agree with the manner in which the Conservatives have proceeded, namely, misleading Canadians into thinking trusts would not be taxed due to a promise they made during the last federal election. This promise effectively served to reinforce the false impression that all was well with income trusts. However, before the election, in 2005, members of the Liberal party were openly speculating about whether to tax income trusts and, at the time, my NDP colleague, Finance and Financial Institutions Critic, Judy Wasylycia-Leis proposed a different way of proceeding to reduce the risk to seniors’ income. Unfortunately, her proposal did not get the support of either the Liberal or Conservative parties at the time.
The NDP has always favoured a full and comprehensive public discussion of income trusts and called for consultation on this issue long before the federal government broke its election promise not to tax trusts. In June of last year, well before the October 31st announcement of the Conservative’s so-called “Tax Fairness Plan”, the NDP asked the federal government to take action in order to protect small Canadian investors. Judy Wasylycia-Leis held a news conference in June 2006 and again in October to call for a closer look at the trust sector and to propose a moratorium on all new trust conversions in order to conduct an in-depth study into the reporting practices of income trusts as well as their impact on government revenue, pensions and industrial growth – a move that was supported by the National Pensioners and Senior Citizens’ Federation, the Small Investor Protection Association (SIPA) and the leading forensic accounting team of Rosen and Associates, among many.
The NDP’s call for a moratorium was made necessary by a series of well-documented and systemic problems with the income trust structure that had already been identified in reports by various renowned financial institutions, including Standard and Poors and the Canadian Securities Administrators, as well as in a seminal research report authored by well-known independent financial analyst Diane Urquhart, among others. These problems include inaccurate reporting of both the value and the returns of income trusts in addition to the conversion of many corporations to a trust structure in order to avoid paying corporate income taxes, causing so-called “tax leakage” and entailing future erosion of Canada’s corporate tax base.
One of the many individuals who questioned the reported value of income trusts was Paul Hayward, legal counsel for the Ontario Securities Commission. He warned that the use of the ill-defined term “yield” could potentially mislead investors into thinking they were receiving a higher return or gain on the capital they invested.
Similarly, research into income trusts conducted by Standard and Poors, the Accountability Research Corporation and the Canadian Securities Administrators (a consortium of 13 provincial and territorial securities regulators) concluded that trust payouts were largely overvalued and had significantly less cash available for distribution than reported by management.
In light of these facts and the testimony of experts in the trust sector during the House of Commons Finance Committee’s review of income trusts, the NDP agreed that the federal government had little choice but to tax trusts and we could not in good conscience reverse the position we took before and during the last federal election. The NDP has been clear and consistent in its position on income trusts and has always supported a full review of the investment opportunity that these trusts provide.
Contrary to the claims of lobbies representing certain groups of investors, the issue of foreign takeovers is not limited to the income trust sector. The flurry of Canadian corporate buyouts is being seen in other sectors as well. What's more, according to statistics provided by Standard and Poors, foreign ownership of Canadian trusts already made up 33% of trust units before the announcement of the Tax Fairness Plan. Correspondingly, the Department of Finance Canada estimated that foreign-owned trusts accounted for 50% of all energy trusts in early October 2006. Having said that, foreign takeovers are a matter of concern to me and my NDP colleagues and I have proposed measures to reduce the occurrence of this phenomenon.
As for the assertion that the changes to legislation regulating income trusts will result in greater tax leakage, the Canada Revenue Agency employs a number of tax avoidance tools, known as the General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR) and “thin capitalization” rules, which deal with private equity groups that may seek to buy up trusts and load them with debt in order to keep from paying taxes. These rules apply to both trusts and corporations and are designed to prevent such tax leakage.
Furthermore, since the modifications to the income trust sector will only enter into effect in 2011, many analysts predict that income trusts will increase in value and recover most of the losses they suffered immediately following the unveiling of the Conservative Tax Fairness Plan. In fact, reports show that the average gain in the trust sector during the month of April 2007 alone, just six months after the announcement of the new trust tax, is 4.5%, a significant increase in value. The latest figures indicate that the value of trusts has rebounded and is now within 5% of its October 31st price.
The NDP’s overriding focus throughout the income trust debate has been to find a solution that best serves the interests of ordinary Canadians. We have been consistently fighting for fairer taxes and against corporate tax loopholes and in our opinion, the practices of many income trusts deserved a closer look. Our call for a moratorium on new income trusts was motivated by a desire to allow adequate time to resolve the many problems in a way that would cause the least damage to seniors’ income security. Once that option was no longer available, we followed the course of action that we thought was best with the most complete information as we could gather from experts.
I felt it was important for me to share my rationale in supporting the NDP’s position on income trusts. I hope you will understand that this was not a frivolous decision or one that was entered into lightly. Although I believe that the market will eventually rebound, I sincerely regret the financial hardship inflicted on Canada’s seniors, particularly those who were ill-advised to invest in already overvalued income trusts.
Once again, I thank you for your message.
Sent: February 18, 2010 10:34 PM
To: Savoie, Denise - M.P.
Subject: Income Trust Issue
Ms. Savoie ;
This article by Mr. Fullard says it all! http://caiti-online.blogspot.com/2010/02/todays-hill-times-why-kill-golden-goose.html .
I would appreciate it if this government action, which has negatively impacted the financial situation of my family and the families of thousands of other Canadians, be given your immediate attention. I would also appreciate receiving you assurance that the 'Marshall Plan' will receive your support.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Posted by Fillibluster at 8:04 PM