Établir de nouvelles taxes pour les banques

Selon le gouvernement fédéral, les Canadiens ont déposé 146 G$ dans des paradis fiscaux en 2009. En 2003, le chiffre était limité à 83 G$. Au début des années 2000, la Vérificatrice générale du Canada estimait que l'amnistie accordée aux investisseurs canadiens à la Barbade faisait en sorte que 1,5 G$ échappaient au fisc.

Les banques font partie des coupables dans ce dossier, selon le Centre canadien de politiques alternatives (CCPA). Cet organisme a publié jeudi un rapport intitulé Fair Shares, how banks, brokers and the financial industry can pay fairer taxes.

Le document indique que le recours aux paradis fiscaux contribuerait à maintenir le taux d'imposition du secteur financier à seulement 13%. Proportionnellement, l'industrie est la deuxième la moins taxée. Seules les minières paient un pourcentage plus bas.

Au total, le quart de l'investissement direct canadien à l'étranger est effectué dans des paradis fiscaux, les banques, qui sont responsables d'au moins la moitié des mises de fonds à l'étranger.

Bien sûr, M. Harper et M. Ignatieff n’en ont pas parlé dans leurs programmes.

Fair Shares : How Banks, Brokers and the Financial

Industry Can Pay Fairer Taxes


How Banks, Brokers and the Financial

    Document de 30 pages

In the wake of the financial and economic crisis, many industrialized countries have taken steps to have their banks and financial sectors make a “fair and substantial contribution” to pay for some of the costs of the crisis. European countries have — either individually or collectively — introduced taxes on financial sector bonuses, levies on bank balance sheets, endorsed a Financial Activities Tax, and pledged to consider introducing additional financial transactions taxes.

The European Parliament has moved forward with proposals to introduce a financial transactions tax at the European level.

In contrast, the Harper government engaged in intense lobbying to prevent world leaders from agreeing on introducing new taxes on banks at the Toronto G20 Summit last June. Finance Minister Flaherty argued that Canada would not impose “excessive, arbitrary, or punitive” regulations or taxes on its financial sector. It is now attempting to convince Canadians to support its plan for further corporate income tax cuts.

This report argues that instead of being “excessively, arbitrarily or punitively” taxed, Canada’s financial industry has benefited significantly from tax preferences and recent tax cuts.

A leading bank analyst has estimated that Canada’s top banks will have $40 billion in excess cash by the end of 2012.

This amount is equivalent to the sum of all federal and provincial government deficits currently projected for the 2012–13 year.

Pauvre petit peuple, on augmente toutes les taxes de tous bords, mais les banques canadiennes vivent dans le pur nirvana.

At the same time, federal and provincial governments are cutting program spending to pay for the approximately $300 billion in increased debt they expect to incur following the financial and economic crisis.

Is the banking and financial sector fairly taxed?

Canada’s banking and financial sector has been consistently highly profitable. Corporations in the finance sector enjoyed an average 23% profit margin during the past decade compared to a 7% average profit margin for firms in non-financial industries. Profits of Canada’s big five banks reached $19.4 billion in 2010 and are expected to rise by another 15–20% again in 2011.

Canada’s financial sector has been the greatest beneficiary
of recent corporate income tax cuts.

Corporate income tax rates have been cut steeply at both the federal and provincial level in Canada, from an average rate of 42.6% in 2000 to an average of 28% at the beginning of 2011. Further cuts planned by federal and provincial governments will bring the combined top corporate income tax rate down to 25% in most provinces by 2013. This year, Canada will have the lowest combined corporate income tax rate of all G7 countries.

These tax cuts helped fuel a major boom in stock markets and other asset markets, but this wasn’t reflected in stronger growth of the economy.

Instead of investing in productive physical capital, increasing amounts went to finance mergers, acquisitions, speculative investments and share buybacks. Even now, in the wake of the financial crisis, both financial and non-financial firms are using their excess profits and cash to finance buybacks of their shares instead of expansion of economic activity. Share buybacks raise stock prices, at least temporarily, often with the greatest benefit going to those who are paid in stock options such as the executives and managers who make those decisions.

Fair Tax Alternatives

Other countries already have or are considering special taxes on their financial sectors, including different forms of Financial Transactions Taxes or a Financial Activities Tax on financial sector profits and remuneration, as the International Monetary Fund recently proposed.

This study shows that any of these three alternatives — a Financial Activities Tax, a Financial Transactions Tax, or eliminating tax loopholes restoring corporate tax rates — could contribute to restoring tax fairness and raising many billions in revenues for Canadian governments.

The government’s first priority should be to establish a fairer tax system and broaden the base by:

·      Introducing a Financial Activities Tax (FAT) on financial sector profits and remuneration to compensate for the relative under-taxation of the financial sector. In October 2010, the European Commission endorsed a 5% Financial Activities Tax at the European Union level. A 5% Canadian FAT tax would generate $4.5 billion this year.

·      Eliminating tax preferences for stock options and capital gains. Eliminating preferential tax rates for corporate capital gains and stock options would increase federal revenues by an estimated $3.9 billion this year, with an estimated $1 billion of that from the finance and insurance sector.

·      Reversing corporate tax cuts. Restoring the federal corporate income tax rate to 21% for the finance and insurance industry (the rate that applied from 2004 to 2007) instead of cutting it to 15% by next year as the federal government plans would increase federal revenues by an estimated $2.4 billion in 2012–13.

These three measures could take effect in a very short time. Combined, they could generate well over $10 billion a year. These measures should be accompanied by stronger regulations over bank fees to ensure that costs are not simply passed onto consumers.

Following these domestic measures, the Canadian government should work with — and not against — other leading nations to introduce financial transactions taxes at an international level.

Financial Transactions Taxes – Tobin Taxes

The idea of special taxes on banks and financial transactions is neither new nor speculative.

In 1936, John Maynard Keynes, considered the greatest economist of the 20th century, wrote in The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money:

The introduction of a substantial government transfer tax on all transactions might prove the most serviceable reform available, with a view to mitigating the predominance of speculation over enterprise in the United States

His proposal was largely for a tax on transactions of stocks on domestic financial markets.

Much of the current interest in financial transactions taxes stems from a desire to use them to curb speculative and destabilizing activities on international financial markets, particularly in relation to financial derivatives and foreign currencies.

Keynes’ idea was later adopted by Nobel prizewinning economist James Tobin, who proposed an international tax on currency transactions in 1972 after the Bretton Woods monetary system broke down and most of the Western world moved to fully floating exchange rates.

Tobin said his proposed transactions tax was intended to “throw sand in the wheels” of international money markets in order to reduce speculation and cushion exchange rate fluctuations.

Following the financial crisis this campaign has gained the support of leading politicians, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. In March 2011, the European Parliament voted on a proposal to introduce a Europe-wide financial transactions.

A transactions tax at 0.5% on shares traded on the TSX would generate an estimated $3.5 billion a year in revenues, assuming it led to a 50% decline in transaction volumes and values. This is equivalent to a tax of $5 on a transaction worth $1,000. For comparison, a 0.1% tax (or $1 on a trade worth $1,000), as considered by the European Commission would generate approposed proximately $1.1 billion a year, assuming it led to a 20% reduction in share volumes and values at that rate.

Lecture complémentaire : La taxe Robin des Bois, la taxe Tobin


  1. gravatar

    # by Adrien Pouliot - 1 mai 2011 à 21 h 07

    Est-il possible que le fait que les Québécois travaillent en moyenne 35,2 heures par semaine, soit la plus basse moyenne des provinces au Canada, explique en partie la faible productivité du Québec?