Government Waste Awards give Lifetime Achievement to former Toronto Mayor David Miller

The 13th Annual “Teddy” Government Waste Awards Winners were announced by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) last week.

The CTF is a citizen advocacy group dedicated to less waste, lower taxes and responsible government spending of our hard earned dollars.

These awards confirm what I had been saying all along, that a left-wing mayor in the City of Toronto was going to cause an increase in taxes and result in less money in the pockets of Torontonions, as David Miller was given the lifetime achievement award.

Please, read on.

The “Teddy” award is named after Ted Weatherill, a former federal bureaucrat who was fired for outrageous expenses in 1999 (I’ve included his expenses below). Each year the CTF holds the ceremony to recognize a government, public office holder, civil servant, department or agency that most exemplifies government waste.

The winners:

Federal Teddy Winner:
G8/G20 costs: $1.24 billion spent to host leaders from the other G8/G20 nations to ironically discuss how to trim government over-spending.

Provincial Teddy Winner:
Ontario tax collectors paid severance for keeping jobs: Approximately $56-million in severance for changing their business cards from ‘Ontario PST collector’ to ‘Federal HST’ collector.”
These guys moved across the street from 5150 Yonge Street to 5001 Yonge street and were topped up to make up for the fact that the Feds pay less than the province.

Municipal Teddy Winner:
Edmonton City Council for wasting $5,000.00 on a haiku contest. Citizens were asked to write poems (or haikus) about riding the bus, despite already having paid $5,000 to have one written.

Lifetime Achievement Teddy:
David Miller

“And the Lifetime Achievement Teddy goes to…former Toronto Mayor, David Miller, for a career of reckless taxing-and-spending. As Mayor, Miller grew the city’s operating budget by 44 per cent, $2.8 billion, increased the city’s debt by more than $1 billion and increased property taxes every year well beyond the rate of inflation. He fought for and got new taxing powers which he used to impose a host of new taxes, including a: plastic bag tax, garbage tax, car tax, billboard tax, and land transfer tax.”

Concluding the ceremony CTF federal director, Kevin Gaudet remarked, “over the years David Miller has provided so much material for the Teddies we will see if future municipal nominations will suffer with his departure.”

Other nominees included:
Federal – Space Agency/Agriculture Canada: $400,000 for failed “Canadian Content” astronaut food program.

Federal – Border Services Agency Employee: Bureaucrat spends five hours/day at work surfing porn and is not fired.

Federal – National Defence: $515,000 for not conducting security checks on NORAD facility builders.

Federal – Public Works: $550 million for maintenance including $1,000 for removing one light switch.

Federal – Senator Lavigne: $30,000 for expenses – while suspended from the Senate.

Provincial – ON E-Health: $224M for consultant abuse including charges to consult on consulting charges.

Provincial – ON Parks: $400K for Niagara Parks Exec expenses including roller coasters.

Provincial – NS Premier Dexter: $10,600 to expense full membership fees to the bar association, then reducing status to “not practicing” when forced to pay himself.

Provincial – MB Health: $38,000 to build “rooftop oasis” for health bureaucrats while patients down the road fundraise for theirs.

Municipal – Summerside, PEI: $1.3 million for fraudulent Michael Jackson tribute concert.

Municipal – Regina, SK: $5,000 for bizarre sponsorships including $450 for a ‘pickleball tournament.’

Municipal -Richmond, BC: $59 million for city purchase of land for five-times real value to be “as fair as possible.”

Municipal – Toronto, ON: Public transit boss caught expensing $2,400 for taxis.

http://taxpayer.com/node/13985

Now, back to the name of these awards… The “Teddys”, named after Ted Weatherill who was the Chair of the Canada Labour Relations Board since 1989. Between 1995 and 1996, Mr. Weatherill charged at least $21000 to taxpayers for business travel he incurred as President of the National Academy of Arbitrators, an Alabama-based private organization.

“Mr. Weatherill concedes that he could have sent the expenses to the National Academy of Arbitrators…but Mr. Weatherill believed his participation in the NAA’s conferences that year to be a wise investment for the Canada Labour Relations Board. So, he chose to bill his expenses to the Canadian government instead.”
The Ottawa Citizen, 7 April 1997

There’s more than just travel, though. The following is a “taste” of the meals Mr. Weatherill has billed to the Canadian taxpayer over the past eight years:

Breakfast: Relais Christine, Paris $25.00
Meal (for 2): RPG Arpege, Paris $733.43
Dinner: Le Cercle Universitaire d’Ottawa $1 084.40
Room Service (one night): Chateau Frontenac, Québec City $95.27
Meal: Royal Windsor Hotel, Brussels $531.50
Mr. Weatherill billed the federal government on average $18,500 a year in meal costs alone, for a grand total of $148,000 over the first eight years of his ten year term. He has billed the federal government more that $200 for a meal on 107 different occasions since he was hired.

Many of Mr. Weatherill’s lunches have included alcoholic beverages. Treasury Board guidelines state that “reasonable expenses means the specific, itemized expenses incurred, based on receipts, excluding alcohol.”

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Corporate Casualties in 2010

With thanks to Yahoo Finance and our friends at http://www.urbandaddy,wordpress.com, for the inspiration, here are the biggest corporate casualties of 2010.

When you look at the list, some will come as no surprise to you and the rest may be interesting. Odds are those you have not heard of, are bankrupt for a reason. However, a bunch of them are automobile lines as a result of this thing called a recession:

Here is the list that meant something to me. If I missed some, please let me know.

A&P. This grocery chain declared bankruptcy in December.

American Media. The publisher of such gossip rags as the Star and National Enquirer, saw a huge hit resulting from the prevelance and quickeness of information in the Internet (Hello, TMZ.com). By November 2010, American Media had a debt load seven times the value of the company, which drove it into bankruptcy.

Blockbuster. This movie-rental chain failed to notice the future happening all around it. While Blockbuster was doubling down on retail stores and dunning its customers with loathsome late fees, Netflix wooed millions of movie fans by mailing them DVDs and offering streaming video over the Web, and Redbox set up convenient kiosks offering overnight movies for a buck. No wonder Blockbuster declared bankruptcy in September.

Hummer. Cool in the early 2000s, 2008 saw the beggining of the end for this brand when oil-prices began to spike. Hummers were looked upon as evil, and the end came after parent firm General Motors declared bankruptcy in 2009.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). This studio’s archives include classics like The Wizard of Oz, Dr. Zhivago, and Rocky, but a dearth of recent hits–plus debt piled on when a group of private investors bought the studio in 2005–led to a much-anticipated bankruptcy filing in November. MGM should be back on its feet by early 2011.

Mercury. Parent company Ford Motor has turned itself around and become nicely profitable, but it’s not bringing the middling Mercury brand along with it. The aging Mercury got sandwiched between the mainstream Ford lineup and the Lincoln luxury division, with Ford deciding two nameplates was enough. Since most Mercury models were glorified Fords anyway, few car buffs will miss it, but my wife misses her Cougar.

Movie Gallery, which ran Hollywood Video and was once the 2nd largest video-rental chain in the US, first filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2008, then filed again in February 2010 when its restructuring plan failed to gain traction, resulting in all 2400 US outlets being closed and 19,000 workers being laid off.

Newsweek. The Washington Post, which had long owned Newsweek–and lost millions on it in recent years–sold the title to 91-year-old billionaire Sidney Harman. for $1.00 in August.

Oriental Trading Company, declared bankruptcy in August, after writing off more than $400 million in debt.

Pontiac. It was once one of GM’s marquis divisions, with must-have muscle cars like the GTO and the Trans Am. But GM could never revive Pontiac’s faded glory, and when the automaker was forced to shrink following its 2009 bankruptcy, Pontiac got the boot.

Saturn, a newer GM division, and my first car, closed as well.

Yellow Pages. Is anyone surprised by this? I have 2 of them holding up my monitor, and I use http://www.Canada411.ca to look up phone numbers.

IRS Issues Final Regulations on New Basis Reporting Requirement; For Investors, Reporting Gains and Losses Gets Easier Starting in 2011

IR-2010-104, Oct. 12, 2010

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued final regulations under a law change that will require reporting of basis and other information by stock brokers and mutual fund companies for most stock purchased in 2011 and all stock purchased in 2012 and later years. The reporting will be to investors and the IRS.

This additional reporting will be optional for stock purchased prior to these dates.

These regulations, posted today in the Federal Register, implement a provision in the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008. Among other things, the regulations describe who is subject to this reporting requirement, which transactions are reportable and what information needs to be reported. Besides providing numerous examples, they also adopt a number of comments and suggestions received since the proposed regulations were issued last December.

Form 1099-B, Proceeds from Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions, long used to report sales prices, will be expanded in 2011 to include the cost or other basis of stock and mutual fund shares sold or exchanged during the year. Stock brokers and mutual fund companies will use this form to make these expanded year-end reports.

The expanded form will also be used to report whether gain or loss realized on these transactions is long-term (held more than one year) or short-term (held one year or less), a key factor affecting the tax treatment of gain or loss. The expanded form, to be first used for calendar-year 2011 sales, must be filed with the IRS and furnished to investors in early 2012.

The IRS today also announced penalty relief for brokers and custodians for reporting certain transfers of stock in 2011.

The relief is described in Notice 2010-67.

IRS Indoor Tanning Excise Tax comes into effect July 1st, 2010.

IRS 10% excise tax on indoor tanning industry.

If you live in, or visit America, and love that fake, baked-on tan, it’s going to cost you 10% more to get that well-done feeling, as of July 1st.

The IRS issued regulations outlining the administration of a 10% excise tax on indoor tanning services that goes into effect on July 1st, 2010.
The regulations were published today in the Federal Register.
In general, providers of indoor tanning services will collect the tax at the time the purchaser pays for the tanning services. The provider then pays over these amounts to the government, quarterly, along with IRS Form 720, Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return.
The tax does not apply to phototherapy services performed by a licensed medical professional on his or her premises. The regulations also provide an exception for certain physical fitness facilities that offer tanning as an incidental service to members without a separately identifiable fee.

Hmmmm. Taxing the tanning industry?!? I guess that may push people out into the sunlight more often, which may not be such a bad idea considering all the debate about how dangerous tanning beds are and their suspected link to cancer. Then again, if the IRS could tax natural sunlight, trust me, you would be paying it too.

Change to the Dividend Tax Credit Rate – MRQ

Further to an announcement made by the Québec Minister of Finance, the rate of the dividend tax credit will be modified for the 2010 taxation year.

The current rate of 17.255% will be reduced to 17.136%. This change will affect the RL-3 slip (box C), the RL-15 slip (box 44), the RL-16 slip (box J) and the RL-25 slip (box G).

The new rate must be taken into account for certification purposes, and in the production of the slips concerned for 2010.

Is anyone tracking this?

I’m looking for confirmation that it still is a go.

FIN to BN Conversion Process – CRA Press Release from October 2009.

FIN to BN conversion process If you filed a T5, T5007, T5008, T5013, or Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) Contribution Receipts information return in 2008 or 2009, the CRA will automatically convert your Filer Identification Number (FIN). A successful conversion will result in an RZ account number being added to your existing BN.

Note:
Filers of the T5018 information return will have the RZ account number added to their existing BN.  

The Contract Payment Reporting System (CPRS) requires construction businesses to record payments they make to subcontractors for construction services and to report these payments to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).  The CPRS was also developed to require contract reporting by Crown corporations (since 1998) and federal departments and agencies (since 1999).

The conversion will occur throughout November and December 2009. You may have been mailed a letter advising you of your new RZ account number once it has been created.  If you did not receive one you will need to have the authorized representative contact the CRA at the general enquiries line, 1.800.959.5525 to set one up. 

Note:
If your filing is done by a branch office or a third party, such as an accountant or service bureau, advise them of your new account number.

Some FINs may not convert due to discrepancies between the FIN and the BN account information. If you do not receive notification by mail of your RZ account number by the end of December 2009, or you require an additional account to suit your business needs, contact the CRA.

If you have received notification of your RZ account number, but you are no longer required to file any of these information returns, you can have the account closed by contacting the CRA.

Note:
If you will be filing a TFSA return, you will not be part of this conversion. Go to TFSA Annual Information Return for more information.

The HST and you!

If approved, effective July 1st, 2010, the Province of Ontario will combine the 8% Ontario sales tax and the 5% GST into a single 13% value-added sales tax (HST) that would be federally administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).  

 As part of the proposed sales tax reform, cash payments would be provided to Ontario tax filers, in each of June and December 2010, and June 2011.

ADDITIONAL POINT-OF-SALE REBATES (EXEMPTIONS)

In addition to the point-of-sale rebates of the provincial component of the HST proposed in the 2009 Budget, the government intends to provide further targeted sales tax relief for consumers. Additional point-of-sale rebates from the eight per cent provincial component of the HST are proposed for the following:

  • Print newspapers that contain news, editorials, feature stories or other information of interest to the general public, and that are published at regular intervals, typically on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, but not flyers, inserts, magazines, periodicals and shoppers.
  • Qualifying prepared food and beverages that are ready for immediate consumption and are sold for a total price (for all qualifying items purchased, excluding HST), of not more than $4.00. Qualifying items would include:
    • food or beverages heated for consumption;
    • salads;
    • sandwiches and similar products;
    • platters of cheese, cold cuts, fruit or vegetables and other arrangements of prepared food;
    • cakes, muffins, pies, pastries, tarts, cookies, doughnuts, brownies, croissants with sweetened filling or coating, or similar products where they are not prepackaged for sale to consumers and are sold as single servings in quantities of less than six;
    • ice cream, ice milk, sherbet, frozen yoghurt or frozen pudding, non-dairy substitutes for any of the foregoing, or any product that contains any of the foregoing, when hand-scooped or machine dispensed and sold in single servings;
    • other food items that are excluded from zero-rated GST/HST treatment as basic groceries solely by virtue of the types of sales made at the establishment where they are sold, such as the sale of a bagel or a plain croissant in a restaurant;
    • non-carbonated beverages, when dispensed at the place they are sold; or
    • when sold with a qualifying food item listed above: other beverages except if the cans, bottles or other primary containers in which they are sold contain a quantity exceeding a single serving; cakes, muffins, pies, pastries, tarts, cookies, doughnuts, brownies, croissants with sweetened filling or coating, or similar products where they are pre-packaged for sale to consumers in quantities of less than six items each of which is a single serving; ice cream, ice milk, sherbet, frozen yoghurt or frozen pudding, non-dairy substitutes for any of the foregoing, or any product that contains any of the foregoing, when packaged and sold in single servings; or other snack foods, such as chips, salted nuts, popcorn, candies, fruit bars, granola bars, etc.
  • Wine, spirits, beer, malt liquor or other alcoholic beverages would not be a qualifying beverage for the purpose of the point-of-sale rebate of the Ontario component of the HST.

DETAILS ON POINT-OF-SALE REBATES (EXEMPTIONS)

The 2009 Budget proposed to provide targeted relief for consumers on the provincial component of the HST on many items important to Ontario families by providing point-of-sale rebates for books, children’s clothing, children’s footwear, children’s car seats and car booster seats, diapers and feminine hygiene products.

The following information provides additional details for consumers and retailers:

  • Books, including:
    • a printed book or an update of a printed book,
    • an audio book (i.e., all or substantially all of which is a spoken reading of a printed book),
    • a bound or unbound printed version of a scripture of any religion,
    • a printed book and a read-only medium (e.g., CD-ROM) whose content is related and integrated with the book’s content and when sold together as a single package,
    • a printed book and a read-only medium and/or a right to access a website when sold together as a single package, and if specifically designed for students enrolled in a qualifying course, such as educational courses of elementary or secondary schools.
  • Children’s clothing designed for babies,, girls and boys up to and including girls’ Canada Standard Size 16 and boys’ Canada Standard Size 20, or clothing designated for girls and boys in sizes small, medium or large if the clothing does not have a designated Canada Standard Size. Children’s clothing eligible for the exemption would not include costumes or clothing like sports protective equipment. These are the rules that exist for current PST exemption, and are similar to other provinces with these exemptions.
  • Children’s footwear designed for babies and girls and boys up to and including girls’ size 6 and boys’ size 6, including footwear without a numerical size that is designated for girls or boys in size small, medium or large. Children’s footwear eligible for the exemption would not include skates, rollerblades, ski-boots, footwear that has cleats, or similar footwear. These are similar to conditions that exist in other provinces that have a similar exemption.
  • Children’s car seats and car booster seats that are restraint systems or booster cushions that conform with Transport Canada’s safety requirements for Standards 213, 213.1, 213.2 and 213.5, as described under the federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act.
  • Diapers, including cloth and disposable diapers designed for babies and children, and diaper inserts and liners, rubber pants and training pants. Incontinence products would be zero-rated under HST, in accordance with current GST rules.
  • Feminine hygiene products, including sanitary napkins, tampons, sanitary belts or other products marked exclusively for purposes similar to the purposes for which sanitary napkins, tampons and sanitary belts are marketed.

ELIMINATING HIDDEN TAX

Replacing the provincial sales tax would help eliminate the hidden sales tax that many products carry. Currently the PST is charged on various business costs throughout the production of an item. This hidden tax is ultimately added into the cost the consumer pays at the cash register.

Under the proposed HST, most taxes paid on business inputs would be refunded to the business — savings that can be passed on to consumers in the form of lower prices.

How it is intended to impact businesses in Ontario:

Benefits for Business

Increased Competitiveness = Greater Investment, More Jobs

  • The HST and cuts to business taxes will cut Ontario’s marginal effective tax rate on new investment in half.
  • Ontario will join more than 140 countries and four other provinces that already have a value-added sales tax like the HST – because it is modern, efficient and necessary to compete in today’s changing world.
  • Report: Changes Mean More Jobs For Ontario

Cuts to Business Taxes

Ontario will be providing $4.5 billion in tax relief over three years, including Corporate Income Tax (CIT) cuts starting July 1, 2010:

  • The CIT rate will be lowered from 14% to 12% then further reduced to 10% over the next three years
  • The CIT rate for manufacturing and processing will be lowered from 12% to 10%
  • The small business CIT rate will be cut from 5.5% to 4.5%
  • The small business deduction surtax will be eliminated
  • Fewer small and medium-sized businesses will have to pay the Corporate Minimum Tax, and the rate will be cut from 4% to 2.7% in 2010.

This is in addition to the existing plan to eliminate the capital tax . Capital tax was already eliminated for firms primarily engaged in manufacturing and resource activities in 2007.  For all other businesses, the capital tax rate will be cut by 33% on January 1, 2010 and then completely eliminated on July 1, 2010.

Reduced Business Costs

  • Most businesses will receive input tax credits (ITC’s) for sales tax they pay on many of their business purchases and capital investments, providing significant savings.
  • The HST is eliminating cascading layers of PST–embedded tax hidden in the purchase price, making inputs cheaper.
  • Businesses also save from the reduction of embedded tax in supplier prices.

Lower Compliance Costs

  • Businesses will save over $500 million a year in administrative and compliance costs alone.
  • Administration of a single tax instead of two means one set of forms, one payment and one point of contact for audits, appeals and taxpayer services.