Many commentators claim BC Liberals are incompetent and ineffective. While true in ministries such as Justice and Children and Family Development, Liberals have been successful in the centerpiece of their strategic plan. Startlingly successful.
In 2001, Gordon Campbell’s platform document promised a “business environment that is second to none” and BC Liberals have consistently delivered on that objective, most particularly for the large multi-nationals and outsourcers.
My last article discussed reduction of the public share of revenues from mining and petroleum industries. In fiscal 2001, the final year of NDP rule, the province earned $2.1 billion in forest and water revenues. Eleven years later, the Liberal government took in $900 million. This despite massively larger use of fresh water by private power producers and frackers in the energy business. In 2001, total revenue from natural resources was $4 billion; in 2012, it was $2.7 billion. This results not from reduced activity — production has grown substantially — but from reduced royalties and other indemnities.
In 1999, BC corporation income and capital tax amounted to $1.55 billion. Thirteen years later, corporation tax for 2012 amounted to $1.63 billion, a difference of 5%. Luckily, to ease that burden, businesses were saving hundreds of millions a year after Liberals largely relieved them of paying provincial sales tax.
Perhaps this strategy is the only possible one anyway. The world’s big players see tax as something for compliant schmucks to worry about. Aljazeera offers: How can tax avoidance be stopped?:
It is estimated that offshore tax avoidance costs the US government $150 billion annually, and at a time when Washington is fixated on the debate over the so-called fiscal cliff, there seems to be little political will to address the problem.
This contrasts to attitudes in Europe.
When it was revealed how little tax companies including Starbucks and Amazon have paid in the UK, there was a public outcry and parliamentary hearings were held.
Tax evasion costs the EU about $1.3 trillion a year. It has drawn up an action plan to try and claw back at least some of the revenue being lost.