Dalhousie Law Journal


John G. Head


Tax reform, tax reform bill, evolution


The passage of the Tax Reform Bill in December 1971 marked the end of an extraordinary decade of inquiry and debate on federal tax reform in Canada. Minor (and some major) changes are still being made, and a further instalment of reform is to be expected in the area of sales taxation. The more controversial issues of tax reform in the field of income taxation have, however, been finally settled, at least for the next few years and probably for a much longer period. While business firms, families and the government wrestle with the complexities of the new system, it is therefore time to sit back and review this remarkable episode in Canadian public finance history. Three main stages can be distinguished in the evolution of the reform to 1971. The first began with the appointment of the Carter Royal Commission in 1962 and ended with the presentation of the Carter Report in February, 1967.' The second began when the Minister of Finance invited public submissions and discussion on the Carter Report and ended after a lively public debate and prolonged government study with the publication of the Benson White Paper in November, 1969.2 The third and final stage was the "White Paper process" of public and parliamentary discussion of the Benson White Paper ending with the introduction of the detailed legislation in June 1971 and its eventual passage in December 1971.' In the following sections we shall consider the development at each of these three stages in turn.

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