Just in case a wrong impression should get abroad following the remarks of the hon. member for Parry Sound as to the amounts of money that have been contributed to western agriculture, I might point out that the cheese bonus goes largely to Ontario; that the freight assistance on feed grain, the assistance in regard to fertilizer, the ceiling price on coarse grains as a means of assisting live stock producers, are all of particular importance to this part of the country and not of the same ad\ antage to us in the west. I mention these points as having some bearing on the remarks of the hon. member in regard to the contributions that have been made by the federal treasury to the farmers of western Canada.
I suppose under this section of the act we should be grateful for small mercies. I say to the minister without hesitation that the carrying forward of the income tax of the farmer over a period of two years is the
Income War Tax
recognition of a principle that is important. At the same time I submit that it does not go far enough, considering the industry as a whole and the hazards that are involved in it. I am not unmindful of the difficulties with respect to the principle of taxing agricultural incomes, from the point of view of the industry itself. The industry is hazardous; there are many things beyond the control of the farmer which influence his income in one year as against another, to a much greater degree than is the case in connection with ordinary business. Here under resolution 8 we are dealing particularly with the income of 1942 as a base, which represents a substantially higher income in the case of most farmers than they have enjoyed for some time. With the base so high this year there will be more farmers paying income tax than in any other period, certainly within the last ten or twelve years. Therefore I submit that this matter is of such importance as to deserve added consideration; I do not mean this item alone but the whole basis of taxing agricultural incomes. I will not urge the point, but I will go so far as to suggest that this is a matter which might be given to a committee of members of the House of Commons for particular study outside the house, where they might call in experts and review the whole question in minute detail.
I realize that there are different conditions in different parts of Canada. I submit that if the farmers are taxable they are willing to pay their tax, but there is so very much involved in the principle. I agree with the hon. member for Yorkton, and I believe there is plenty of argument in support of the suggestion, that it would be much fairer if the farmer's income could be spread over a base of about five years. I do not think that is unreasonable. I quite appreciate the argument put forward by the minister a few moments ago as to the difficulties involved, but I am told that in the old country they have a means of equalizing the income tax as between one year and another. If we could devise a scheme whereby the income tax could be spread over a period of, say five years, dropping off the fifth year and adding fhe new year and taking an average, it would provide a much more equitable basis.
I wish to go one step further, because in my opinion the business of the farmer is entirely different from any other business. I think we must recognize the principle that the farm is not only the business of the farmer; it is also his home, and when you consider the two together you have a situation very different from that of any other business.
There is, however, another feature with respect to this matter which I believe is of
some importance. During the period from 1930 onward the western farmer went heavily into debt, either through unsecured liabilities which he created or by placing heavy mortgages on his farm. Certainly at this time his income tax provision will not permit him to pay very much off his accumulated indebtedness. Perhaps he is not entitled to any more consideration in that regard than anyone else, but having regard to the difficulties the industry has experienced and the desire to see it on a reasonably satisfactory basis when this war is over, I submit that this point has particular significance at this time. Moreover, as an added thought-and with this I shall close -we have gone out and asked industry to expand their plants. We have assisted industry to do so, financially, by writing off taxation, and in other ways. Now we have come along and asked the farmer greatly to expand his production, which in turn means that he has been obliged to incur additional expense, perhaps by way of extra fencing or new buildings or a new well to provide for more live stock; but we are not giving him any consideration either financially or from the point of view of his income tax. Therefore I submit that he has a pretty good case in this matter and that we should not say he is merely comparable with other forms of industry.
I just advance these observations with the suggestion that the minister might be well * advised to make provision at some stage whereby this whole matter might be reviewed in minute detail, utilizing the expert advice of his departmental officials as well as of others who pay particular attention to matters of this kind.
Topic: INCOME WAR TAX ACT