‘Everything is open with regard to tax options,’ Hickes says as GN begins review

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The Government of Nunavut is assessing its tax system and all options are open, according to Finance Minister George Hickes.

Finance Minister George Hickes: A retail sales tax is one option the GN will consider as part of its tax review.
photo courtesy of the Government of Nunavut

“You look at our corporate taxes, it has come up in the past that our small business tax is higher than some other jurisdictions. Do we leave at that? Do you reduce it to try and stimulate more economic activity?” Hickes said in the legislative assembly on Friday. “It’s weighing different levels of our taxation system along those lines. Other jurisdictions have an alcohol tax, we do not. Everything is open with regard to tax options available to us.”

Hickes confirmed that a retail sales tax is another option his staff is considering in its review that will continue into 2020.

Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Lightstone recommended that the GN look at a sugar tax, or a tax on sugary drinks like pop “to encourage people to adopt a more nutritious healthy lifestyle.”

Hickes replied that it, too, could be considered but said some Nunavummiut have shown a willingness to pay $5 per can or bottle of pop, so price isn’t necessarily a deterrent.

Lightstone fired back that the GN has used that same rationale to repeatedly raise cigarette taxes so it should be applicable to sugary drinks as well.