Every place has its chauvinist streak. Everywhere you travel someone’s going tell why their country is so superior, why their city is so revered, why that land is god’s gift. It’s great that people are proud of where they live. The ugly part of course is when it tips into nationalism, xenophobia, blind arrogance, delusion and all the rest.
Vancouver (the putative ‘Best Place on Earth’) is no different. It rarely gets too ugly, at least at face value: we’re too passive-aggressive for that, but good lord the self-righteousness sticks in the craw. And especially when places like Mercer or Mastercard or the Economist start talking about Vancouver as the ‘most liveable city in the world’. You know what kinds of cities these places approve of: scrubbed clean, investor and tourist friendly, blandly available for profit and consumption.
One more key piece of evidence in making sense of Vancouver’s exalted place in neo-liberal urbanism came in mid-2010 when a survey by global accounting behemoth KPMG named Vancouver as having the most business-friendly tax climate in the world. No really!
Vancouver ranks number one in the world when it comes to being business-friendly if you’re talking about taxes.
Accounting firm KPMG’s guide to international business costs looks at the total tax burden faced by companies, including income tax, capital tax, sales tax, property tax, miscellaneous local business taxes, and statutory labour costs.
Vancouver moved up from 4th place in 2008 thanks to continued federal and provincial corporate tax rate cuts and the upcoming change to the Harmonized Sales Tax according to KPMG.
This is after a long and concentrated tax debate in this city that hinged on the argument that business paid too much of the tax burden. Right. The next person who tells you that Canada is a benevolent socialist utopia full of red tape that fetters business, a generous social milieu and none of the corporate heartlessness of the US – ask them about this survey.
Taxes in Canada are just over one-third, or 36.1 per cent, lower than in the U.S. At the other end of the spectrum, corporate taxes are 81.4 per cent higher in France than the U.S., according to the KPMG report. While personal income taxes and sales taxes are still higher in Canada, payroll taxes have been reduced, capital taxes have been phased out, and corporate tax rates have been falling in recent years. Canada’s federal and provincial corporate tax rates are approaching 25 per cent. The U.S. federal tax rate for business starts at 35 per cent, and state tax rates vary. Among the ranking of cities, Vancouver comes out on top, and ahead of Monterrey and Mexico City. Seattle, its natural U.S. counterpart, ranked at 18.
What kind of city does this get us? Where are we headed with these kinds of priorities? What kinds of business does this climate privilege? These are key questions when we think of the kind of city we really want.
See here: http://www.camagazine.com/taxsurvey2010/default.aspx for more.