February 24, 1925

LIB

Jacques Bureau (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Hon. JACQUES BUREAU:

(Minister of Customs and Excise): The estimates are the same as last year except that on account of the increase of the work and the various taxes that we have to collect we have found it necessary to add a junior departmental solicitor. That is the only change.

Topic:   CUSTOMS AND EXCISE
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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Does this cover the cost of the income tax department?

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LIB

Jacques Bureau (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

No, the fusion has not yet been completed. It is engaging the attention of the department.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

I suggest to the minister that there should not be a fusion of the costs of the collection of faxes which are entirely different in their character. It is necessary for the House to know what the costs of the collection of indirect taxes are on the one hand and of direct taxes on the other. I am not now discussing the question of the minister using in any way he proposes the staffs of either department, but if we are to know where we are, if we are to know whether a tax conforms to the general principle which should govern all taxation, namely, that the cost of collection should not exceed the amount of revenue from the tax, then there should be a separation of the costs of collection. I do not want to detain the minister, but I would like him to give his view- affirmatively, I hope-on that point.

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LIB

Jacques Bureau (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

The only thing I can give my hon. friend now is the percentage of the cost of collection of the revenue so far as customs and excise are concerned. I do not

Supply-Customs

think we have made any distinction as between excise and customs. They come under the same head; the same officers perform duties in both branches of the department. For 1923-1924 the revenue for customs and excise was $298,721,419.55, and the expenditure $7,435,931.59, or a percentage of 2.49. As to the income tax, I cannot say. As I have told my hon. friend, we are trying to bring these tax collecting branches under the one head, and although there has been no change made so far, it is contemplated that when the changes are made an economy will beeffected. For instance, if we can get all the income tax officers in the same building with the customs and excise officers, rent will be saved and the overhead be less. The plan-I will not call it a fusion-of bringing together all the collecting branches of the department so far as that is possible has not been completed yet, but is still under consideration.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

I do not want to unduly press my hon. friend. I am going to ask him, however to remember one fact when he is considering the bringing together of the different branches under one roof and saving overhead. That, of course, is a very good thing. But it would be a very wrong thing, and something which would work against the efficiency of his own department, if there was no check kept at all of the expenses of operating the different branches. I forget now what was the exact cost of collection of the income tax, my hon. friend will know that better than I do, but my impression is that it cost a trifle under 2 per cent to collect the tax. We were not then in as expensive a building as the department is in now, and it may be costing a little more today. I think my hon. friend will agree with me, when he comes to do it, that if there is one thing that ought to be done it is to let the country know what the cost of these services is. The country cannot know that if the cost of collection of customs and of excise, indirect taxes, is mixed up with the collection of the income tax, which is peculiarly a direct tax. I think my hon. friend has the point all right, and I am going to ask him to bear it in mind.

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LIB

Jacques Bureau (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

I cannot give the cost of collection of the income tax, because I have not the figures. It is very difficult to separate the cost of collection of customs from excise because the same officers are performing the two duties; that was the object of the fusion. The total cost of collection of customs and excise for 1923-1924 was 2.49 per cent. I

understand that my hon. friend wants us to keep the income tax separate.

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CON
LIB

Jacques Bureau (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

That is a matter I suppose that will be discussed when we come to reorganize.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

There is apparently an

error here. The resolution on page 8 reads exactly the same as last year, but the details on pages 73 and 74 show an increase of about $12,000. It is either a misprint, or one or the other is wrong.

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LIB

Jacques Bureau (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

The amount is exactly the same as last year, but on account of men having been let out at their maximum salary and ne.w men coming in at a lower salary, a saving has been effected of $11,425.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Are there any cases here of the same man getting two remunerations, perhaps under a different name? That is the usual way it is done.

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LIB
CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

I do not know

if this is the time the minister would like to do this or not, but in connection with all the civil government votes, while on the one hand we know what it costs to run the

11 p.m. different departments, that information is really not correct unless we know the amount of superannuation that is also being paid on account of retirements under the act of last year. In other words, it would be quite easy for example to retire twenty or thirty or forty employees, at a great cost to the state, while making an apparent saving in the cost of running the department, through taking on others at lower salaries. We are really not in a position to know how we stand unless we know what the retirements are and the charges on the superannuation fund.

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LIB

Jacques Bureau (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

Of course, the amounts

paid for superannuation and retiring allowances do not come under our department, but under the Department of Finance. Those pensions are paid by virtue of the statute.

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CON
LIB

Jacques Bureau (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

The department recommends the retirements, but no books are kept for that purpose.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

My hon. friend does not quite get my point. I am not saying for one minute that it is a charge against his department, but these retirements are a charge

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against the taxpayer; the taxpayer has to pay the cost. Superannuation is granted on the recommendation of the accredited minister of the department from which the employee is retired, and every department had, and I think to-day 'has a list of every retirement that it recommends. I do not think there is any doubt about that. I do not want to bother my hon. friend about that now, but I think we ought to have that information in connection with all of these votes. I think the members of the government without any trouble will agree that that information could be given.

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LIB

Jacques Bureau (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

I understand my hon.

friend wants a list of all these superannuated or retired under the Calder Act during the fiscal year.

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CON

February 24, 1925