Raising the capital gains tax would soak more than just the rich, new analysis suggests

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What is still unclear from this research, however, is whether by excluding capital gains from income, we are excluding individuals whose primary source of income annually is significant capital gains, who arguably are the so-called “rich,” as opposed to the small business owner (or real estate owner) who sold their business (property) and reported a one-time, significant capital gain that moved them into a higher tax bracket for that single year alone.

Canada vs. the world

The Fraser Institute report also compared Canada’s capital gains tax rate to that of other countries and found that Canada’s top capital gains tax rate (27 per cent) is currently above the average for countries in the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and substantially above the rate in Britain (20 per cent) and the United States (20 per cent).

That being said, with the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden this week, and Democratic control of both the House and Senate now established, it’s quite possible that Biden’s pre-election platform to effectively increase the tax on capital gains by treating them as ordinary income for taxpayers earning more than US$1 million could actually be passed. Combined with his plan to raise the top rate on ordinary income back up to 39.6 per cent (from 37 per cent), it would nearly double the current long-term capital gains tax rate.

As for Canada, “raising the capital gains tax rate would weaken Canada’s ability to attract investment and adversely affect our economic recovery,” concluded Clemens. “Canadians across the income spectrum — and the economy as a whole — would benefit from a lower, not higher, capital gains tax rate.”


Jamie Golombek, CPA, CA, CFP, CLU, TEP is the Managing Director, Tax & Estate Planning with CIBC Private Wealth Management in Toronto.

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