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Canada's GST at 21: a tax expenditure view of reform

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Canada's GST qualifies as one of the most important fiscal innovations in the country's history. Due to its expansion to the subnational sphere through harmonisation, its scope has grown over time. This has amplified the non-neutralities, inequities, and compliance and administrative costs that have existed since its inception in 1991. This article briefly reviews the GST against best design practices and carefully examines the numerous exclusions from the base (tax preferences) present in the system. The central analysis focuses on the tax expenditures associated with those preferences and assesses whether the GST is the best instrument to achieve their objectives. The article concludes that the GST is not the best instrument and it identifies alternatives where feasible. It proposes the elimination of some of the GST reliefs (non-export zero rating, exemptions, and rebates) in the short term, and calls for a comprehensive review of the GST regime that pertains to public sector bodies, non-profit and charitable organisations, and the financial sector.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5235/WJOVL.1.2.125

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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  • The importance of VAT/GST in all the leading developing nations cannot be overestimated. The volume of case law and legislation pertaining to VAT has grown enormously in recent years, with a corresponding increase in interest in VAT among practising lawyers, policy-makers and academic commentators. It is therefore all the more surprising that hitherto VAT has not been the subject of the sustained attention that a Journal is able to provide. It is with this in mind that an international team of experts has assembled to provide a forum for the systematic analysis of current developments in VAT law. The Journal is intended to become the primary source of informed comment and analysis among European practitioners and scholars, and a vital source of information and discussion at the international level. It will be an essential resource for leading accountancy and law firms, scholars of VAT and tax law in Europe and worldwide, European institutions, national tax courts, and practising lawyers specialising in this area. The journal will consist of an editorial, articles (2-3 longer articles and 2-3 short articles), current developments, case reports, documentation and book reviews.

    The World Journal of VAT/GST Law is a peer-reviewed journal. For information about the peer-review process and requests for evidence of peer-review please contact the General Editor or Hart Publishing.

    The World Journal of VAT/GST Law is an online journal but printed copies are available upon request.
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