released her tax policy platform today and it is the best we have seen from a Canadian federal social democratic politician in a very long time.
Bucking the rhetorically left-wing (though in reality not as progressive as it sounds) trend from liberals and social democrats to promise to only increase corporate taxes to one small degree or another or to raise taxes only on the very wealthy, her plan promises to raise progressive income taxes more generally, and not just on the somewhat mythical '1%'.
She would start taxing at a rate of 29% at a lower income threshold of $120,000 a year, would create a new and increased tax bracket for those making $150,000 to $202,000 and she would increase all taxes on those making in excess of $202,000 with a fairly substantial increase on those with incomes over $300,000.
In addition she would change the tax laws so that they "treat capital gains the same as wage income for tax purposes" instead of taxing them at only 50% (or, as Jagmeet Singh has proposed, 75%) of the normal rate.
She would bring in "a progressive wealth tax on millionaires and billionaires. This measure would put a tax of 1% on assets of those with a net worth of $1 million, progressively rising to 1.5% for those with a net worth of $10 million or more." Further, she would introduce an estate tax on all estates worth in excess of $4 million correctly noting that "when multi-millionaires can pass on their entire fortunes, inequality becomes entrenched. Canada is the only country in the G7 that does not have an estate tax."
These plans are all complimented by plans to raise corporate taxes and bring in measures like a "Robin Hood" tax that would "introduce a Financial Transactions Tax (FTT) of 0.5% on purchases of stocks. This will reduce speculation, increase stability in financial markets and incentivize productive investment."
While these proposals fall short of the kind of far-reaching and dramatic reappraisal of taxes by the left that Matt Fodor and I called for in our piece It's still time for an adult conversation about taxes, they still take the truly important step of putting the idea of increased progressive income taxes on the well-off back on the table.
It is essential to understand that it is impossible to be serious about combating income inequality (which is driven by personal wealth discrepancies) or creating the fiscal conditions for a truly social democratic state without taking these steps and beginning to reverse decades of disastrous personal income tax cuts.
With the release of this plan Niki Ashton has made it clear that she not only acknowledges these fundamental truths but that she also realizes how critically important progressive personal income tax policy is to what are often rather hollow slogans from other North American liberals and social democrats about inequality and social justice.
See also: The theory and practice of "tax relief": Austerity, inequality and neo-liberalism (in three parts)
See also: Ashton strong in lively Toronto NDP leadership debate