The best and worst major Canadian cities for business investment have been identified in a new report and Vancouver is neither the best, nor the worst.
The report was completed by the C.D. Howe Institute and finds the overall highest tax burdens to be in Saint John, Charlottetown, and Montreal. The most competitive overall business tax environments are still led by Calgary and Saskatoon.
“Before a business decides to locate or expand in a given jurisdiction, it must consider the tax implications. Heavy tax burdens drive investment away to other jurisdictions and, with it, the associated economic benefits.” says report author Adam Found.
The report looked at the total 2017 tax burden on business investment for the largest city in each province. Federal, provincial and municipal taxes on corporate income, retail sales, land transfer and business property were collectively considered.
The authors note considerable gaps in the way Canadian governments measure the overall tax burden on business investment, primarily because business property and land transfer taxes are omitted from the calculations.
Taxes are part of a larger expense landscape
The good news is that more recent efforts to soften the business tax burden are making the city more appealing, especially as other cities increase their charges. Ben Dachis, the Associate Director of Research for the C.D. Howe Institute says at the current rate, Vancouver is poised to overtake Calgary.
“Over time Vancouver has progressively reduced the overall cost of doing business, in particular on the business property taxes. Whereas Calgary is going in the opposite direction and now Vancouver and Calgary are almost tied when it comes to the overall economic cost of these taxes.”
Dachis says while reducing direct taxes does make any jurisdiction look more appealing to business, he also warns other costs like commercial rents and housing for employees play a key role as well.