Briefing

Conservatives propose new digital-services tax and $250-million cleantech fund

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Social media platforms, search engines and online marketplaces with more than $1 billion in worldwide revenue would pay a corporate tax on all Canadian sales after the first $50 million. The parliamentary budget officer estimates the measure would bring in $410 million in the 2020–2021 fiscal year, rising to $920 million in 2028–2029. The private sector would manage the cleantech fund, and the government would require private investors to put in $4 for every $1 it puts in. The party is also proposing a green-patent credit, which will cut corporate income tax to five per cent on environmental technology patented in Canada since 2015. In addition, the Conservatives are proposing “cyber safe” labelling for smart devices and a promise to provide consumers with information on whether the devices are secure. (The Logic)

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Talking point: All four major parties in the federal election have now promised a special tax on large multinational tech companies, a rare area of policy agreement. But the Conservative proposal is modelled on the British version of a Big Tech tax, unlike the Liberals and NDP, which largely copied the French government’s value-added tax on ad sales and digital intermediation revenue—mostly e-commerce marketplaces’ transaction fees. The Conservative tax would likely make it more expensive for platforms to do business in Canada, while the Liberal and NDP taxes may make it more expensive to buy from them, if they choose to pass on the costs. The Conservative cleantech fund would be $400 million larger than the Business Development Bank of Canada’s (BDC) current fund, once the private-sector capital is secured. Earlier this month, The Logic reported that BDC’s fund was attracting $1.60 in outside capital for every dollar it invests—and that it was losing money and struggling to find companies in which to invest.