S*l*s Tax: The Tax that Dare Not Speak its Name (in Alberta)

April 21, 2016 :: Dr. Trevor Harrison
Moderated by Graeme Greenlee

It is conventional wisdom in Alberta that bringing in a sales tax would be political suicide, but there is nothing unusual about sales taxes. They are part of the fiscal fabric everywhere else in Canada, many U.S. states, and throughout Europe. A provincial sales tax of five percent could net Alberta $5 billion yearly and still be one of the lowest taxed provinces.

The Alberta Taxpayer Protection Act, introduced by Premier Ralph Klein in 1995, states that a referendum must be held before a Provincial Sales Tax can be introduced. However, previous governments have shown that they have no problem sweeping away old laws like this one. In 2009, the PC government amended their much touted Fiscal Responsibility Act which prohibited deficit budgets in order to pass a deficit budget.

What are the sources of opposition in Alberta and what impact would a sales tax have on the politics and finances of the province? The speaker will analyze these questions and assert that relying on a boom-bust economy with a real lack of long-term financial planning has been Alberta’s biggest weakness over the past several decades.

Speaker: Dr. Trevor Harrison

Dr. Trevor Harrison is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Lethbridge and Director of Parkland Institute. He was born and raised in Edmonton. He holds a B.A. from the University of Winnipeg, an M.A. from the University of Calgary, and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Alberta.

His broad areas of specialty include political sociology, political economy, and public policy. In addition to numerous journal articles and book chapters, Dr. Harrison is the author, co-author, or co-editor of nine books. His op-ed columns frequently appear in both local and national newspapers.

Moderator:   Graeme Greenlee
Date: Thursday, April 21, 2016
Time: Noon - 1:30 PM (30 minutes each for presentation, lunch and Q & A)
Location: Country Kitchen Catering (Lower level of The Keg) 1715 Mayor Magrath Dr. S
Cost: $11.00 (includes lunch) or $2.00 (includes coffee/tea)

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