CALGARY, Sept. 14, 2012 /CNW/ - In a report published today by The School of Public Policy, authors Ken McKenzie and Michael Firth challenge the way financial services (mutual funds, insurance, loans, etc.) are taxed under the GST in Canada.
The authors find serious flaws with the current application of the exemption-based approach applied to financial services. Under the exemption approach no GST is levied on transactions designated exempt under the GST, nor is a financial institution able to recover the GST on inputs used to provide the good or service.
"When a financial institution is not able to recover GST on its purchases of inputs, the GST will be embedded in the price charged for those financial services," they write. "This will be true for both consumer and business purchases of financial services."
"Consumers should choose among various financial services - investing in GICs versus mutual funds, term versus whole life insurance, etc. - on the basis of their relevant merits, not because of differences in effective tax rates due to differential treatment under the GST."
McKenzie and Firth propose several tax reforms to rectify these issues. They recommend retaining the exemption-based approach, but offer up several ways in which it can be improved. One of these is the zero-rating of business-to-business transactions by allowing businesses to recover GST paid on inputs related to providing financial services. To accomplish this goal, a new system for determining recovery of GST by financial institutions will need to be created, including rules around attributable costs. A system for taxing imported supplies will also be needed.
They also recommend that all financial services be treated in a similar matter and taxed at the same effective rate so that consumers face a "level playing field between different types of financial services."
The report can be found at www.policyschool.ucalgary.ca/publications
SOURCE: The School of Public Policy - University of Calgary
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