Quebecers Have To File 2 Tax Returns — There's A New Call To Finally Get Rid Of One

It's an expensive power struggle between Quebec and Canada.💸

Senior Editor
A Canada Revenue Agency income tax declaration form.

A Canada Revenue Agency income tax declaration form.

Quebecers have to file two tax returns: one with the Canada Revenue Agency and one with Revenu Québec. It's been that way for almost 60 years. Now, Québec solidaire (QS) is renewing the call to consolidate them into a single return.

The leftist party argues that such a move would simplify things for taxpayers and potentially save hundreds of millions of dollars in government revenue.

"Every year when tax season comes around, citizens and businesses waste time and money filling out two returns when it is absolutely unnecessary," QS MNA Sol Zanetti said in a February 19 press release. "This bureaucratic duplication between Revenu Québec and the Canada Revenue Agency costs us nearly $425 million a year."

"Keeping the system in place is throwing our public money down the drain."

A single return through Revenu Québec would also mean taxpayers have a "single point of contact for tax matters," the party says.

Zanetti further contends a single return would enable Quebec to "maintain a balance of power against Ottawa" and "protect [its] fiscal autonomy." He cites the power to pursue cases involving federal tax evasion — a power he says Ottawa has "abandoned by signing treaties with tax havens."

The decades-long argument over tax collection has always been about a power struggle between the federal and provincial governments.

Quebecers did file a single return, with the federal government, in the years following World War II. Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis argued in the 1950s that by reserving collection powers for itself, the federal government was "[reducing] the provinces to legislative impotence."

"Provincial autonomy cannot exist without definite and indispensable fiscal powers," he said in 1950.

His government would eventually impose a Quebec income tax in 1954, forcing the federal government to reduce its own income tax in the province as a result.

There have been other moves to give Quebec greater control of taxes. As Québec solidaire points out, the province has been collecting the federal sales tax since 1991. And in May 2018, the Quebec National Assembly voted unanimously in favour of a motion calling on federal and provincial officials to "implement a single tax report, transmitted to Revenu Québec, for all Quebec taxpayers, while preserving Quebec's fiscal autonomy."

There's been no movement there.

So, for now, the two-return system isn't going anywhere.

Thomas MacDonald
Senior Editor
Thomas is MTL Blog's Senior Editor. He lives in Saint-Henri and loves it so much that he named his cat after it. On weekdays, he's publishing stories, editing and helping to manage MTL Blog's team of amazing writers. His beats include the STM, provincial and municipal politics and Céline Dion. On weekends, you might run into him brunching at Greenspot, walking along the Lachine Canal or walking Henri the cat in Parc Sir-George-Étienne-Cartier.
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