Saskatchewan municipalities vs. the province

On March 22, 2017 the Saskatchewan government tabled their latest budget. In the face of falling revenues from both natural resources and tax, the province had to make some hard choices. Many of these made the news (e.g. the increase in the PST), but one choice they made is only recently becoming a hot topic. In that budget, the Saskatchewan government announced that it was eliminating the grants in lieu of taxes paid to municipalities by SaskEnergy and SaskPower (it later capped the reduction). It also announced it would no longer fund libraries in Saskatoon and Regina.

SaskEnergy and SaskPower are provincial crown corporations. Because they are government entities they are exempt from paying taxes, including property taxes. However, government entities often provide what are called payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) in the spirit of fairness. After all, these government entities are ensconced in buildings  within municipal boundaries and place pressure on municipal infrastructure, so the payment endeavors to help offset these pressures.

PILTs are fairly common, at least historically, but have become increasingly disputed. PILTs are also often made “at the pleasure of the government” and not required. As a result, they can and have been reduced and eliminated. Some municipalities that are home to federal and provincial governments have, as a result, been increasingly moving charges from property tax bills (like those related to sewer and water) to user fees because while these government entities are exempt from paying taxes they are not exempt from paying user fees.

While the province does appear have the power to cancel these PILTs paid by these two crown corporations, the municipalities are indicating that they were not duly informed of this decision. The budget was March 22 and the cancelled payments were due April 1. There is some credence this notion that the municipalities were not duly informed given the two main impacted municipalities (Regina and Saskatoon) had already passed their budgets, which included the payments. The province disputes the lack of communication, but the province also did not make a call to the municipalities when their budgets were publicized. So while the move by the province appears to be legal, it certainly was not executed in a way to encourage positive intergovernmental relations. Indeed much of the discourse that has followed has been eerily similar to a parent scolding their child.

One item in clear dispute between these two levels of government is how these two municipalities should respond to a sudden ~$10-$11M annual reduction in revenues. In particular, the City of Regina, which appears harder hit that Saskatoon, has proposed severe cuts to services, including eliminating holiday transit service, closing libraries, a hiring freeze, user fee increases, and  an increase in the property tax mill rate to cover the shortfall.

The province, however, has balked at this, instead saying the city should pay for the shortfall from its ‘rainy day fund,’ launching a new bun fight between the City and the Province. See, like many cities, the City of Regina has a reserve fund. Reserve funds are very important to municipalities as they allow it to borrow at preferred rates, they are used to support longer-term financial plans, and they help achieve community goals. That is, they ensure that municipalities don’t have to incur large debts when taking on capital projects thereby keeping tax rates stable over a longer period of time.

The City of Regina’s reserve fund and its rules are established by by-law and its purpose is to smooth out its budgets. The reserve fund is actually comprised of operating reserves, deferred revenue, and utility reserves. While the reserve has more than $200M in it most of these funds either can’t be used for general purposes (they are derived from regulatory charges and user fees which must be solely used for cost recovery from the good, service, or right charged. I worry that the premier is not aware of this since similar restrictions are placed on these revenues at the provincial level. Perhaps he should read my groovy new book?) or have been earmarked and contractually committed to capital projects, including those pesky infrastructure projects partially funded by Ottawa or the province. In fact, only about $25M in the reserve appears to be unrestricted, sitting in the general fund reserve account.  And the current plan shows that fund being exhausted by 2020 (for what, that is not clear).

Ok, well it seems like there is perhaps some room to fund this year’s shortfall through a dip into the general fund reserve if there was a willingness to cancel whatever planned spending the general reserve fund was intended to support. But that only addresses 2017. There have been clear signals that the reduction in the PILT by SaskEnergy and SaskPower will continue and may be expanded. What then? There is not enough flexibility in the City’s general reserve fund to do much more than cover the 2017 shortfall, meaning that all that would do is postpone some very hard decisions. That is, the shortfall is now structural. Structural shortfalls should not be addressed through the use of one time funds because one time funds are not structural.

So if a lowly tax economist, with some knowledge of municipal finance I might add, can figure this out in an hour or two, why can’t the province? I imagine that politics is playing a role in the response. There is, after all, but one taxpayer. The province was able to reduce its tax increases by keeping the PILTs for its own purposes. To then just have the municipalities raise taxes, putting the blame at the feet of the province, raises attribution concerns. The province does not want to take responsibility for the municipal tax increases so pointing to the reserve fund attempts to redirect taxpayer ire back to the municipalities.

Overall, the position of either of these governments is not desirable and it does not help the situation when they don’t work together to address budgetary challenges. The City, I think, would be more amenable to using its general fund reserve this year if it knew what the provinces plan was for the future with respect to maintaining the PILT and to stick to that commitment. I also worry about some of the decisions that the City is making and worry some of the service reductions are being tabled solely for political reasons themselves. If I were there I would try to get much more clear details from the City and the province on these points.

 

 

Advertisements

BC Election and Liberal Platform

So the writ in the BC election has been dropped and the first party to release their full platform was the BC Liberal Party. They launched their platform on Monday April 10 at llam (well that was the intended time, but the reality was that it was not launched until actually 11:15am).

Not only was the launch late, but initially the BC Liberal Party only made the platform available on flipsnack (behold it here) and did not enable the download button. What did this mean? Anyone with poor internet connectivity was left starting at blank pages for several minutes each time they “turned the page.” It also meant that those interested in particular items could not do a quick word search to go to areas of interest. This might not be a big deal to some, but it was such a headache for those of us trying to provide some commentary on the platform that it pretty much became a running joke through my commentary, like this one.

Fortunately, the BC Liberal Party eventually tanked the flipsnack link and provided a direct link to their platform in PDF. It was still a glossy, full colour, bandwidth sucking document but easier to deal with.

NOTE TO POLITICAL PARTIES: 1. Don’t piss off the wonks

2. it is not that hard to make a low rez, low bandwidth version of your documents available to those with limited connectivity or bandwidth caps, like those experienced in rural and remote communities, and many indigenous communities.

Overall, the platform is a bit of “meh.” Most of the goodies included were either announced in the Budget or are simply changes that would take place anyway (like the indexation of thresholds for certain tax credits). In fact, the only big ticket item was the MSP premium reduction. But even that is disappointing because the BC Liberal Party chose a morass of an implementation plan. Want to achieve the same thing, with more transparency and better target read me here or Iglika Ivanova here. The punchline is we could in fact, for much lower administrative and compliance costs, simply move the MSP into the tax system and get bigger bang for our buck, which is exactly what the BC Green Party is proposing. So the proposal of reducing and working to eliminate the MSP premiums is good, but the BC Liberals get a fail on their implementation plan. (The BC NDP are proposing to  eliminate MSP all together but without their tax plan (yet), we don’t really know what it means).

Other items include a so-called interim tax “credit” for people living in ferry dependent communities. The “credit” will be in place until BC Ferries is able to design some sort of loyalty program for 2020. There is just so much here.

First, BC Ferries has been consulting Ferry fees for literally decades. There is no reason why BC Ferries can’t immediately implement a better aligned sets of fees on its ferries to address real and serious distributional concerns (including getting rid of the seniors discount).

Second, the BC Liberal Party can’t seem to get it right as to whether it is a tax credit or a tax deduction. Seriously, read the platform. It is called a credit once and a deduction all the other times. What is the difference? A lot. A tax deduction reduces taxable income. A tax credit reduces taxes owed. So the value of a tax deduction is dependent on your tax rate, whereas a tax credit is set to a fixed rate. In the case of this tax “credit” the BC Liberal Party sets the value at 25% so we know it is a tax credit and not a deduction. We also know that under the tax collection agreement with Ottawa, provinces can’t add tax deductions to the tax system as they must use the federal definition of taxable income. Now a little bit of very important detail is also missing from the platform: is this tax credit refundable or non-refundable and claimable by person or household? A refundable tax credit means that you’ll get the money back, nonrefundable means that you can only apply it to reduce your taxes owed to $0. So non-refundable tax credit have very little value to low income persons. In fact, according to the CRA tax filer statistics, 34% of BC tax filers have a non-taxable return. But allowing the tax credit to be claimed by the higher income person can partially offset that. Finally, in order to get the credit you have to be able to afford to take the ferry and hold onto your receipts for more than a year. All together this is still a credit that is only of value to higher income households. I also imagine the credit will not be as temporary as this platform alludes.

All together this tax credit strikes me as a pure electoral announceable that was not well planned or thought out. Worse, IMHO, is that the party that is touting themselves a fiscal stewards can’t get basic tax nomenclature right. Now that is embarrassing.

The platform also announces a host of other boutique tax credits, so boutiquey in nature they are completely embarrassing. Of course, once again, the platform does not indicate which are refundable and which are not, because, you know, details. But overall all these little tax credits only amount to about $35M in foregone tax revenues. But don’t forget most of that is going to higher income households. With this myriad of little tax credits there are three important things to remember. First, BC has to pay CRA to administer every single one of these tax credits. Second, these tax credits are promoted by the BC Liberals as a tax cut. That is just pure political BS. Say it with me: taxing everyone throughout the year only to give it back to a chosen few at tax time does not constitute a tax cut. You get all the distortions from the higher than necessary tax rates and little derived benefit from the tax credits. Third, not only do they not amount to much foregone revenue but they also do not amount to much for the individual tax payer. For example, the BC Child Fitness Tax Credit returns a whopping $28 to a household that claims the full amount and which owes taxes before the application of the non-refundable tax credit. Rather than have all these individual credits, at least the ones directed to families could simply be rolled up in the BC child tax benefit.

If you are interested in learning yourself about tax credits might I suggest this Neil Brooks piece. If you want the pro tax credit side of things, read this Ken Boessenkool piece.

One last specific item I will mention, the platform looks to cap tolls on two of the big bridges on the mainland. Blake Shaffer wrote a good piece over in Macleans about this here. (I might quibble with the language of user fees since road tolls are much more likely to meet the conditions of a regulatory charge, but that is for another day) I’ll add that the $500 cap means that it is cheaper to drive than take public transit, meaning there will be no incentive, as there currently is, to ditch the car in favour of public transit. As a result, be prepared for increased congestion. The NDP are proposing to eliminate these tolls all together, which will just make a bad situation worse. And where will the revenue for maintenance and replacement come from?

There is very little in this election platform to address some of the very important policy issues in BC today, not the least of which is affordability (housing, kids, life). This is an election platform of a party who will continue with the status quo. Of course, if you are benefiting from the status quo, you might like this. But I judge policy based on how it treats the more vulnerable members in society and there is little in here for that. Of course whether this platform is better or worse than the other parties remains to be seen.

BC Election & the NDP Rental Rebate

As you may or may not know, the writ has been dropped in the BC election and all week we’ve been getting details about each of the parties plans. The Liberal Party released their full platform (more on that separately) on Monday and (I think) the NDP will release theirs tomorrow on Thursday April 13.

The BC NDP though have been making small announcements here and there and today one really caught my eye.

I can’t find any more details that this but imagine the rebate is more about addressing affordability and disconnect in how ownership and rental is treated. We should learn more tomorrow to help with that side of the debate (please BC NDP don’t use flipsnack or similar to release your platform), [UPDATE: JOHN HORGAN HAS NOW BEEN QUOTED AS SAYING “If homeowners can have a homeowner grant, renters should be able to have a grant as well.” That is actually a very straightforward argument using the horizontal equity principle. Of course, we could instead get rid of the homeowner grant, but even then homeownership is hugely subsidized in this country.] but that aside for now if we are going to have such a rebate why would a tax economist be interested in this?

Yah, I am excited for completely different reasons. I have, in fact, been calling for recognition of rental payments in the tax system for the sole purpose of collecting information for compliance purposes.

We know anecdotally and from compliance audits that small suppliers are fairly poor with their reporting of rental income for tax purposes. There are several reasons for this, including lack of knowledge, fear (their suite is illegal so they think if they report the income they will be visited by by-law officers), and pure tax evasion. The pure tax evasion is not just related to the rental income itself but also related to improper claiming of the home owner grant and principal residence exemption. How much money is lost to such antics? We don’t know but recognition of rental payments through the income tax system could allow us to determine this. It could also extend beyond just tax compliance but also using the information to investigate compliance with rental laws (like rental increases, the ol’ I tell you that I am evicting you because my granny is moving in but really I want to increase the rent more than the legal requirement, etc.)

But this rebate would have to be implemented properly to achieve these multiple objectives. It would have to be delivered through the income tax system, which means it would have to be the form of a tax credit. I know, I know, economists including myself rail on about how ridiculous all these boutique tax credits are. But given the number of renters in BC, given that arguments can be made that the tax credit actually works to address horizontal equity issues between home owners and renters, and given the possibility of the tax credit to pay for itself through compliance efforts, well, I am fairly excited about the possibility (and launching a research agenda in a few years time). It would have to collect information on the address of the rental, how much total rent paid, and name and contact details for the landlord. And would have to be implemented in a way to also minimize fraudulent claims by people who are not actually renting.

So if the BC NDP win this election, that they follow my advice here:

Oh and as an aside, did you know that many provinces, including BC and Ontario, in the past had rental income tax credit?

The 2017 B.C. Budget: The good, bad, and ugly

Today was Budget day in BC and courtesy of the CBC I was able to participate in the budget lock up. This required me to be at the lock up for 8am PT, which is the equivalent of 5am academic time. Over the course of the morning I was able to meet it up with fellow policy wonks and always fun to have good chin wags about various policy items and catch up on academic gossip.

Three other observations from the day: unlike in Ottawa, those of us in lock up were fed and watered which is a nice touch (nothing fancy, but enough to keep you going); the room was mostly filled with white men in blue suits; and, given the vibrations from the pockets and purses of many of those in the room, many failed to check in their mobile devices as required by the rules.

As for the budget itself, it was an interesting read and, as always, the Budget includes the good, the bad, and the ugly, at least from the perspective of a tax economist. Here I will focus on some of the larger items on both the corporate income tax side and then the personal income tax side.

There are several key announcements on the corporate side of things, and one musing. Before I get to that, as a reminder the BC Tax Competitiveness Commission tabled its report in November 2016. The Commission made a number of recommendations, one of which was acted on in this budget and two of which were ignored.

The PST was found by the Commission to have the greatest negative effects in terms of the incentive to invest, operating costs and economic efficiency. With this in mind:

  • The Commission recommended that PST be eliminated on a number of purchases by businesses: electricity, other energy, software, and telecom. The government acted on the advice to exempt electricity from the PST, but not the other items. The rationale is that the PST on electricity in BC is fairly unique and impacts trade-exposed and energy intensive businesses. The other recommended exemptions, the intent of which were to improve productivity and competitiveness were not acted on in this budget, but the budget does “…acknowledge that further improvements to the PST…will be considered in the context of the province’s fiscal situation and competing funding priorities.” (p. 74)
  • The Commission also recommended that the province get rid of the provincial retail sales tax (PST) and in lieu implement a made-in-BC value added tax. Unsurprisingly, given the fairly recent experience with the move to and then from a Harmonized value added tax, the government did not act on this recommendation. But the government “endorses the Commissions recommendations for the broad public consultation and engagement with British Columbians prior to considering any substantive changes to the PST.” (p. 74) So what this means is unclear, but British Columbians should prepare themselves for another conversation on either harmonization with the GST or its own unique version of the GST. I hope this time we have a more logical, less emotional discussion about this topic because moving to a VAT and away from the PST has significant economic benefits for the province.

The Commission also noted that the Corporate income tax has a much less effect on business competitiveness and economic performance than the PST. The commission noted that the government has indicated that it was interested in pursuing reduction in the corporate income tax rate. The commission also noted that reducing the general corporate tax rate is not nearly as effective in encourage business investment as reducing the PST on machinery and equipment. Further, the Commission was clear in its disdain for further cuts to the small business rate. There is no evidence that the small business rate encourages businesses to grow or addresses issues related to access to capital. Instead, the small business rate leads to disincentive to grow or inefficient business structures to reap the benefit form the low rate Further, there is growing evidence that the small business rate incents professional to incorporate solely for the purposes of a tax shelter. Despite this clear evidence and recommendation, the BC opted to reduce the small business rate from 2.5% to 2.0%. This policy based solely on politics and vote buying then on sound evidence with clear economic benefits.

On a side note, the BC government also announced extensions to various businesses tax credits that piggy back on federal tax credits, including the SR&ED tax credit and the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit. I guess these extensions are fair. We know that Ottawa has already signaled that it is considered these tax credits, with the eye to elimination or modification so it is prudent for the province to wait out the federal government so as to make better decisions once federal action is known. That is, these business tax credits need to be addressed more broadly and with the federal government and its fellow provinces.

On the personal income tax side, by far the most significant announcement relates to the Medical Services Premium (MSP). As you may know, BC is the only province with a stand-alone health premium. It has been regularly panned, but this government has previously indicated that the premium is necessary to ensure that users directly pay a portion for their health care as a way to reduce usage. But the BC government also last week stated that it was time to give back to taxpayers. While everyone else was betting on a PST reduction, not me, my money was on something related to the MSP. The end result is a reduction to MSP premiums for some and a commitment to eliminate the MSP premium completely.

What is announced is that the threshold to qualify for full premium assistance is raised by $2,000 to either $26,000 for singles or $35,000 for couples and a 50% reduction in premiums for those whose family next income is under $120,000. Those earning over $120,000 will continue to pay the full premium. This sounds fairly straight forward, but the devil, as I always say is in the implementation details which makes this transitional period a complete administrative morass. First, in order to qualify for the reduction, individuals who pay their premium directly will have to directly apply to the government. This places a large burden on individuals that we already know do not rightfully apply for  assistance. Recent evidence indicates that 26% of those who qualify for premium assistance don’t apply for it and now we are expanding the pool. It is the government’s onus to ensure that taxpayers obtain the tax benefits owed to them and this includes the MSP. This system put the onus on the taxpayer and leads to increased administrative costs and reduce compliance. Hmmm, if only we already had an administrative data base of BC taxpayers that already included the full details of the household composition and structure (note the sarcasm, because we do, it’s called the income tax system).

Second, those individuals whose employer pays the premium on their behalf, in whole are in part, are expected to work with their group plan administrator to ensure they benefit for the reduction. This is an extraordinary burden to place on employers and their group plan administrators. Employers do not have information on an employees net household taxable income and employees should not have to provide this information to their employers.

Bottom line is that while reducing and moving to eliminate the MSP is good public policy, the implementation gets a failing grade. I’d expect much more from a supposedly sophisticated government. The plan could have easily already been incorporate into the tax system, overcoming all these administrative and compliance problems. And given that the government is booking MSP premiums through the planning horizon it is not clear when they plan to deal with this substantial problem.

Finally, the BC government, in what is becoming a common activity, announced several boutique tax credits running up to the election. It is clear that their main policy advisors are former advisors for the Harper government. I mean, it is great they got jobs, but their policy ideas in this area just stink. The new tax credits include:

  • An add on to the federal Volunteer Firefighters and Search and Rescue tax credit. This is a nonrefundable tax credit, meaning that if you apply for the tax credit but your tax is already reduced to $0 before the credit is applied you receive $0. It is also announced as a $3000 tax credit but its tax value is only 5.06% of that, or $151. There is no evidence of this tax credit being at all effective and a much better investment on the part of the government would have been to provide the funds directly to organizations for direct purchases of training, equipment and payroll for these individuals. Also, under the results of the federal tax expenditure review which are expected to be announced in the upcoming federal budget, it is expected that this tax credit at the federal level may be eliminated if so then the province will have to pay the administrative costs of the tax credit.
  • The government also announced (in September) a back to school tax credit. As with the above, it is a nonrefundable tax credit, meaning that if you apply for the tax credit but your tax is already reduced to $0 before the credit is applied you receive $0. It is also worth a maximum of $12.65 per child. I cannot imagine the administrative and compliance costs are less then the benefits from this thing, making it a terrible piece of policy. A much better way to deliver support to families with school aged children would have been enrich the BC Early Childhood Tax Benefit which is a refundable tax credit geared to income.

So there you go, the good, bad, and ugly of some of key tax items in the BC budget. Overall, it is disappointing to see this government so poorly design and implement tax policy. I offer my services and advice since you so clearly need them, but I shan’t sit around waiting for the phone to ring.

Birth Trends in Canada: Old mums are not a new trend

On August 30, 2016 Macleans posted an article by Meagan Campell purporting that “And now, for the first time ever recorded in Canada, women aged 40 and older have surpassed teenagers in giving birth.” The article keeps getting reposted and shared and many are making comments about this ‘new’ trend of geriatric mums (this is the term used by the medical profession) giving birth.

Unfortunately, the claim is false and I really wish that Macleans would correct their article. This is not the first time ever recorded in the history of Canada that women aged 40 and older have surpassed teenagers in giving birth. In fact, older mums surpassed teens until just after WWII as detailed in this graph of historical births by age for Canada.

And as you can see from the graph the recent uptick in geriatric mums is still significantly below the rate that it was historically.

This fact that older mums is not a new trend should not be surprising. After all, how the hell do you think a women would be able to have 12 kids! I find it interesting the number of people criticizing this ‘new’ trend because the mum will be dead before their kid gets married, given that our life expectancy is now far higher than it was when we were doing this before. In fact, life expectancy increased from 57.1 years to 81.7 year over the period of 1921 to 2011.

The more interesting story is the fact that Canada has the highest average age of a first time mums, clocking in at over 30. And that those geriatric mums now giving birth are not giving birth to their 12 kid, but instead their first or second. That is the more interesting story, rather the reverting trend story.

 

Taxes and the difference between golf and hockey

I was contacted yesterday by Dale Smith with a media inquiry regarding an issue that, since 1971, has come up every few years. When these things come up, I am reminded that stupid tax decisions are gifts that just keep on giving.

Anyway, the inquiry was about a private members bill, Bill C-280, which is an act to amend the Income Tax Act related to golf expenses. Specifically, the proposal is to amend section 18(1)(l)(i) of the income tax act. Given that golf expenses do not even come up in the text of the amendment, it seemed to be causing a bit of confusion.

As I am sure you all understand, you can deduct legitimate expenses that your incur for the purposes of earning an income (section 18(1)(a)). That is, the expenses cannot be of a personal nature. Enter section 18 of the income tax act which details what deductions are NOT permitted from business income. Section 18(1)(l)(i) currently states

Use of recreational facilities and club dues

(l) an outlay or expense made or incurred by the taxpayer after 1971,

  • (i) for the use or maintenance of property that is a yacht, a camp, a lodge or a golf course or facility, unless the taxpayer made or incurred the outlay or expense in the ordinary course of the taxpayer’s business of providing the property for hire or reward, or

The proposed amendment wants to remove the bolded and underlined text above, making golf expenses deductible for tax purposes.

Yes, folks golf fees are not deductible for tax purposes. You can see right from the act that this inclusion dates back to 1971. After much discussion, it was decided that the powers that be that golf is purely a recreational activity. Even if you choose to conduct business as part of the activity, the activity itself is personal. That is, the business is ancillary to the activity. Much like if you and I went out for a run and while running we discussed income tax rules regarding deduction, nothing related to that run is deductible for tax purposes. Running is a personal activity.

OK, seem pretty clear, so what is the problem. Well, in a nutshell loopholes. As you know the income tax act is ripe with special ad hoc rules and those special ad hoc rules beget other special ad hoc rules. The income tax act, in section 67, acknowledges that some expenses can be both personal and business in nature. This includes meals and entertainment. Because of the dual purpose of these expenses, they are only partially (50%) deductible.

So now you see there is ripe for problems. What is a personal expenses vs a combined personal and business expense? Apparently tickets to sporting events, like hockey, are a partially deductible expense as are lift tickets, movie tickets and a host of other expenses. What is the difference between conducting business on the ski hill versus on the golf course? I have absolutely no idea. And there, my friends, is the problem.

But, to me, this is not a reason to make golf fees deductible and why we all need to be wary of special interest groups arguing for preferential tax treatment.. Instead, it is time to carefully and rationally revisit what is a combined personal and business expense and ensure that the expense is truly necessary for the conduct of business. I am not one who believes that all meals and entertainment should be eliminated, like some camps, but Holy Moly Ottawa, you need to be much smarter than this.

And since you have a very intelligent crew advising you already on stupid tax expenditures, might I suggest that you get them to talk to you about this one.

Ms. [enter name of female academic here] vs Prof. [enter name of male academic here]

Women in the academy will regale those who will listen about tales of students always referring to them as Ms. or, worse yet, Mrs., while blissfully referring to male counterparts as Prof. or Dr.

When these women academics, of which I am one, attempt to correct these students, well all hell breaks lose; we are accused as being uptight and egotistical, including by our male counterparts who are not so similarly afflicted.

The battle for respect for our credentials is not just relegated to the hallowed halls of the academic institution. As many of you know, I am regularly interviewed by the media and regularly see the same double standard applied.

Let me refer to the most recent incident. I was recently interview by the Globe and Mail [or should I say Male] for a story about the taxation of Olympic winnings here. You will  note I am referred to as Ms. Tedds in this article.

Now were I to complain to the Globe the answer will be that they don’t refer to academics as Dr. to avoid confusing us with medical doctors. I know this because I have, on several occasions in the past, complained.

Yet when a male colleague is interviewed by the Globe, they refer to him as Prof.

Here is an article where they interviewed Trevor Tombe and Mike Moffat and both are referred to as Prof.

Here is a more recent article where Josh Gordon was interviewed and referred to more often than not as Prof. Gordon.

Here is an article where Stephen Gordon was interviewed and referred to as, you guessed it, Prof. Gordon.

Here is an article where Kevin Milligan was interview and referred to as….Yup Prof.

And here is la piece de resistance, an article where I was interviewed and referred to a Ms. and the male academic interviewed referred to as, yup, Prof. In the exact same article! In fact, it was this article that started it all, and when I complained, Paul Waldie did not see the problem.

Now most of the academic dudes referenced in these articles are mostly dudes with which I am friendly. We run in the same circles and do a lot of the same work and commentary. I do not begrudge them at all. But I do begrudge the Globe and Mail for being completely inconsistent in their application of their apparent rule, which appears to be applied in very gender biased fashion.

When people tell me that gender equality is fully here and that there is no reason or rationale for feminism,  I cry bullshit. And I do so standing knee deep in gender bias bull shit. Gender bias continues to permeate our culture, and it does so sometimes in subtle ways.

 

Taxes and the Olympics (Again!)

A few weeks ago, I sent out this following tweet:

I had to wait a bit longer then expected, but so it has begun. Yesterday I was interview for an article in the Globe about this exact issue and here is the article.

Of course my loyal readers know I have been writing about this for years now (well every two years that is) and here are several links to get you up to speed: here, here, and here.

If you prefer the bottom line, here it is:

  • If an Olympic medal contending athlete is not treating their income and expenses from being a medal contending competitive athlete (professional or amateur) as a business then they need to get themselves to a tax accountant pronto.
  • If an athlete is not using the tax advantage from the Amateur Athletic Trusts, then talk to CRA or your new wonderful tax accountant.
  • The fact that the prescribed prize exemption exists is repugnant, but regardless Olympic winnings do not qualify because prescribed prizes are only awarded to individuals who did not offer themselves up for competition but were nominated by an arm’s length body and because their efforts do not have a broad-based and tangible beneficial effect on the economy or the society. Warm glow does not qualify.
  • Just because Australia rewrote is tax code does not mean we need to. We have section 9 of the ITA and athletes should use it.

The issue of people wanting Olympic Winnings to be nontaxable is, IMHO, a solution in search of a problem that does not exist.

Now every time in the past I have written about this I get emails about how my weight precludes me from commenting on this issue. I don’t see the relationship so spare the efforts. You’ll just get deleted anyway and I really don’t care what you think about my weight.