The recently formed group Nova Scotians for Tax Fairness organized the Forum on Tax Fairness on Dalhousie University campus a couple of weekends ago. They had several great speakers on different aspects of how taxation impacts us, including on tax havens, what progressive taxation could look like in NS, and how to frame the tax argument.
Listen to Brian O’Neill with the Nova Scotians for Tax Fairness here.
John Christensen, founder and Director of the Tax Justice Network, and Alvin Sindiga Mosioma, Coordinator of the TJN in Africa, started the event off speaking about tax havens, which let’s be honest, only the rich use, and they use it to get richer. Tax havens have an impact on taxes worldwide and is something that we here in Canada can do something about to push for changes in the rules surrounding tax havens.
Speaking to what fair taxation could look like in NS was Lars Osberg from the Department of Economics at Dalhousie University. He started off with what taxes do (like pay for publicly-delivered services) and different ways to look at ‘fairness’ (horizontal and vertical equity and inequity), and covered several pieces of what taxation looks like now, and how that could be changed to work for those on a lower or fixed income.
Murray Dobbin, president of Canadians for Tax Fairness, rounded out the lineup. The focus of his speech was framing the tax argument, of which he argues there are two ways to see taxes: from an individual perspective or from a community perspective. So when we speak about taxation, we need to be sure to be raising issues from that community perspective so our friends, family and neighbours understand the importance of tax fairness. The right on the political spectrum has done a lot of work developing language to make corporations seem like victims who need our help and support (“tax burden”, “tax incentives”, “tax breaks”, etc.) and there is a lot a work that progressive folks need to do in order to counter that language that has become so engrained and acceptable in our world today.
It was a great event and we welcome this new group, Nova Scotians for Tax Fairness, and their contributions to creating a better vision for Canada and Nova Scotia.