Making Sense of the Canadian Digital Tax Debate
in Dubois, E. and Martin-Bariteau, F. (eds.), Citizenship in a Connected Canada: A Research and Policy Agenda, Ottawa, ON: University of Ottawa Press, 2020.
21 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2020 Last revised: 10 Nov 2020
Date Written: June 5, 2020
Few Canadian digital policy issues have proven as confusing as the ongoing debate over digital taxation. While there is general agreement that a neutral tax policy should apply to the online world, the issue has been muddled by both nomenclature and corporate efforts to use digital tax policy for competitive advantage. With politicians fearing voter backlash over the perception of increased taxes, Canadian digital tax policy has struggled to keep pace, leading to a predominantly hands-off approach. The result is an uneven digital policy playing field that leaves domestic firms disadvantaged and government coffers missing out on hundreds of millions of dollars. This chapter seeks to unpack the digital tax policy debate by examining the various meanings, the core policy choices, and the potential to develop a fair digital policy structure. The chapter begins with a discussion of digital sales taxes, followed by corporate income taxes, and the finally mandated contributions by companies active in the digital economy, including online service providers and Internet access providers.
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