SOURCE: The Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute

March 17, 2016 07:30 ET

Fraser Institute News Release: Canada's Personal Income Taxes on Highly Skilled Workers Now Among the Highest in Industrialized World

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - March 17, 2016) -  Rising federal and provincial personal income tax rates on highly skilled, educated workers (such as entrepreneurs, business professionals, engineers, and doctors) are hurting Canada's economic competitiveness, concludes a new study published today by the Fraser Institute, an independent non-partisan Canadian policy think-tank.

The study, Canada's Rising Personal Tax Rates and Falling Tax Competitiveness, finds that Canada's top combined federal and provincial tax rate, which is 53.5 per cent (using Ontario's provincial rate) now ranks as the sixth highest among 34 industrialized countries and second highest among G7 countries, behind only France (based on 2014 figures, the latest year of available international data). 

"Next week's federal budget offers the Liberal government an opportunity to put in place policies that match their rhetoric about the importance of policies that attract and retain highly skilled workers, entrepreneurs, and investors," said Charles Lammam, director of fiscal studies at the Fraser Institute and study co-author.

"Competitive personal income tax rates are critical to fostering a positive economic climate but recent tax increases, federally and in many Canadian provinces, harm our ability to attract skilled workers and in fact discourage Canadians from realizing their full potential."

For example, this year Canada's Liberal government introduced a new income-tax bracket, increasing the top federal tax rate to 33 per cent from 29 per cent. This increase in the federal tax rate comes on top of numerous recent increases to top rates in Ontario, Alberta and other provinces.

Among the provinces, Nova Scotia has the highest combined top personal income tax rate at 54 per cent, followed by Ontario (53.5 per cent) and Quebec (53.3 per cent). Currently, six of 10 provinces have a top combined federal-provincial rate above 50 per cent.

"A highly skilled worker in Ontario can now lose more than 50 cents of every additional dollar they earn in labour income -- hardly an attractive environment for highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs," said Ben Eisen, co-author and associate director of provincial prosperity studies at the Fraser Institute.

With the new top federal tax rate, some provinces, namely British Columbia and New Brunswick, have started to reduce their top rate to counteract the effect on their tax competitiveness.

The study also notes that Canada's top tax rates often apply to lower levels of income than is the case in other countries, which further erodes the country's tax competitiveness.

"In comparisons at multiple income levels, Canada's personal income tax rates are decidedly uncompetitive compared to those in the U.S., putting Canada at a real disadvantage in attracting and retaining skilled and mobile workers," Lammam said.

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The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of think-tanks in 87 countries. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for Canadians, their families and future generations by studying, measuring and broadly communicating the effects of government policies, entrepreneurship and choice on their well-being. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit

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Contact Information

    Charles Lammam
    Director of Tax and Fiscal Policy, Fraser Institute

    For interviews with Mr. Lammam or Mr. Eisen, please contact:
    Aanand Radia
    Media Relations Specialist, Fraser Institute
    (416) 363-6575 ext. 238