Kelowna-Lake Country Liberal MP Stephen Fuhr.—Image credit: Capital News file

Central Okanagan businesses unhappy with proposed tax changes

Both area MPs say they are hearing plenty of opposition from constituents.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his federal Liberal caucus come to Kelowna next week for their summer retreat, Kelowna-Lake Country Liberal MP Stephen Fuhr will not be lobbying for Canada to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement after being urged to do so by the Canada West Foundation last week.

Fuhr said he has been told by Canadian government officials the global trade deal is basically dead now that the United States has pulled out.

Instead, the number one issue Fuhr wants to raise with his Liberal colleagues is his own government’s recent announcement of proposed tax changes and how they will affect small business in this country.

Fuhr said he is hearing loud and clear from his constituents that they are not happy with the proposals, especially the 75-day consultation period that has been put in place to discuss them.

“There are a lot of people who are not happy,” said Fuhr, who recently held a round-table discussion with business people from a wide-range of sectors in his riding. “As their representative, it’s my job to present that message.”

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce has already slammed the proposed changes for the adverse impact it says they will have on small business in this country.

The proposed tax changes would vastly alter the current tax picture for small, Canadian-controlled private corporations and present them with much larger tax bills when investments are made into the businesses, when the corporation’s regular income is converted into capital gains and where family members become involved.

Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola Conservative MP Dan Albas said he has also been hearing a lot of opposition to the proposed new rules. Finance Minister Bill Morneau said they are aimed at closing tax loopholes used by a growing number of small businesses to lower their tax bills.

But Albas is also critical of the plan.

Named his party’s new small business “shadow minister,” earlier this week, Albas said he has also held a local round table discussions in his riding and has heard from many unhappy constituents with similar concerns.

He welcomed news that Fuhr plans to raise the local opposition with the Liberal caucus next week in Kelowna.

“(The proposed changes) will stop investments being made in a business,” said Albas when asked about Morneau’s plan.

While accompanying new Conservative leader Andrew Scheer during a visit to Kelowna Tuesday, Albas said in some cases small Canadian corporations will be faced with a much larger tax bill than they would if they were sold to a foreign investor.

And he said not only could innovation be curtailed by the dis-incentive to invest in a business, jobs could also be lost.

Scheer called the tax plan the most concerning move by the Liberal government thus far in its current mandate.

Like Fuhr and Albas, Scheer said he is concerned about the 75-day consultation period which is far too short for a such a far-reaching move.

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