Expat Canadians should pay income tax, argues reader

USA and Eritrea are the only countries that have citizenship-based, rather than residency-based taxation. Superficially attractive but as the US experience indicates, implementation not as simple as Auerbach presents.

Funny how advocates always have confidence that “we can do this in a way that is just as fair, but less complex, than the American system:”

By all means we should be encouraging expats to exercise their rights as citizens to vote in Canadian elections. This includes of course the well-off expats whom the Conservatives are reaching out to.  

However, with rights come responsibilities, including the responsibility to pay income taxes on one’s world-wide income. The U.S.A. recognizes this fact by imposing income tax on all its citizens, including expats who live abroad.  

The principle is simple: if you are a citizen you owe taxes on your income, no matter where you live. 

In practical terms, U.S. expats living in higher-tax countries get a credit for these foreign taxes and do not owe additional U.S. taxes, but those living in low-tax countries or tax havens do owe more. 

Needless to say, this means that thousands of American expats have given up their citizenship to avoid paying taxes to the country where they no longer live. However, they are no longer entitled to vote in American elections.  

Canada should do the same. It’s only fair. We Canadian citizens should be obligated to pay income taxes on our world-wide income (with a credit, of course, for taxes paid to other jurisdictions), no matter where we live. 

I am confident that we can do this in a way that is just as fair, but less complex, than the American system. 

It will be interesting to see what our political parties say about the fairness of linking the rights of citizenship to its responsibilities, and what the Parliamentary Budget Officer would estimate would be the amount of taxes that could be collected. 

Lewis Auerbach
Ottawa, Ont.

Source: https://www.hilltimes.com/2021/08/11/expat-canadians-should-pay-income-tax-argues-reader/310084

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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