So, the Canada Revenue Agency is auditing the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives for potential violations of the Income Tax Act related to charitable or non-profit organizations. The operating suspicion is that the CCPA has engaged primarily in political activities, as opposed to educational activities.
That's ridiculous, right?
Well... maybe not so much.
Writing in the Huffington Post, CCPA "economist" Toby Sanger sets out to challenge Prime Minister Stephen Harper's assertion that corporate tax cuts have not harmed Canada's overall corporate tax haul.
As it turns out, Sanger's argument hinges on the following graph:
Certainly, Sanger can demonstrate an absolute decline in CIT haul between 2006 and 2014. Apparently the reader is supposed to simply presume that this is attributable to CIT rate cuts. Yet Sanger seems to have left out one crucial event that undoubtedly, undeniably affected Canada's CIT haul: the 2008 recession.
Go ahead: search Sanger's screed for the word "recession." You won't find it. It's not there.
How can an allegedly-seasoned economist like Sanger simply not mention the recession?
I think the answer is remarkably simple: mentioning the 2008 recession would remind readers that there is more to the absolute decline in CIT haul than simply CIT rates. Once the drastic drop between CIT hauls in 2006 and 2008 is revealed to be attributable to factors other than CIT rate cuts, the very premise of Sanger's article evaporates. And my bet is that Sanger knows this.
According to the Income Tax Act, charitable and non-profit organizations are tax-exempt if they engage in educational activities. But in deliberately excluding not only pertinent information -- but in fact the most pertinent information -- from his article, Sanger has crafted a piece that is not educational or even informational, but is in fact disinformational.
As such, it is inherently political.
And while neither Toby Sanger nor the Huffington Post saw fit to disclose his involvement with the CCPA, the question is still begged: does the nature of Sanger's work in the Huffington Post reflect the nature of his work for the CCPA?
If it does, the Canada Revenue Agency's audit of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is in fact well-justified... and it will likely not end well for the CCPA.