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Letter: Seeing red after reading Lana Payne's tax column

['Letter to the editor']
['Letter to the editor']

To say that Lana Payne’s column “The Party is Over” in the weekend edition of The Telegram gave me a royal payne would be an understatement.

In fact, in writing this, I must be very careful to avoid adjectives that may cast any aspersions on this clearly capable woman and her opinion. I do not know her. I do not know her salary or benefits as the Atlantic Director of Unifor. I do not know the details of her union pension plan.

But Payne certainly claims to know all about me. She, like this left-leaning, agenda-ridden, Trudeau government, believes that I am a tax cheat. A rich tax cheat. Further, while both claim to be feminists, they want you to believe that my wife’s life-long investment in my career is worthless.

This makes me sick.

Because I have a privately held investment company, Payne and Trudeau have made a great many assumptions about me. They assert that I have a “tax advantage over other hard-working Canadians.” That I am sprinklering my income inappropriately. That I have, for my entire life, taken advantage of salting away company dividends at a lower tax rate as compared to the “average employee,” and because of compound interest and equities, have socked away a fortune. Sitting on it. Gloating. Greedy. Gluttonous. Capitalist schmuck.

Well Ms. Payne, let me tell you about myself, lest your assumptions lead to my arrest or at the very least, public pillory. My wife and I were unsupported through three bachelor degrees, while my (employee) peers entered the workforce six years before me, earning a salary while I sank into a morass of student debt. Upon graduation, we returned to the province just in time to be hammered by the early 1980’s recession. Because of poor economic times, we were forced to leave the province twice, just to put food on the table, and eventually, thanks to the 1990’s recession, take our two kids and leave the country altogether in an attempt to make a better life.

I worked for years in Southeast Asia and Europe to get ahead. My wife gave up everything here, including her profession to support me on the long road. Were you forced to do likewise Ms. Payne? She raised our family while I worked 60 to 70 hours a week. I had no union looking out for me. There was no bargaining table. There were no bargains.

And no pension plans.

We pulled together enough money to buy an 850 square foot house in St. John’s that was selling for $29,000. Thirty five years later: we’re still in it. I bet you have a nice house, too, Ms. Payne.

I drove every vehicle I ever had for at least ten years. Beat-up old trucks. What are you driving, Ms. Payne?

Because of my frugality, we now have a weekend cottage. I built it with my own two hands. Trades-work Ms. Payne. You’d know all about that I suppose.

I know what it’s like to eke out a living as a professional, dependent on Newfoundland’s construction economy. I took risks, and borrowed sizable amounts of money to build my company. I had countless sleepless nights. I have had to cut my income. I have pulled money out of my company, and I have bloody well put it back when times were tough. I paid my taxes.

Oh, and here’s something that you may not have been aware of: as a professional architect I am liable for my work (building design) for infinity plus two years! That’s right. Even after I am long dead, if anyone thinks I have been negligent they have two years to bring action against me in court. Try putting away a nest egg for that Ms. Payne.

I have invested in state-of-the-art business software at great cost. My employees have the best and latest tools, and are paid fairly. Moreover, I treat them with great respect. In fact, because of a well-contrived succession plan, they may soon also reap financial rewards commensurate with their hard work.

And because I was profitable over the course of three years out of my total 38-year career, I incorporated to reduce my tax burden, reward my stalwart wife and companion for putting up with the life I made for her, and somehow retire by taking advantage of lifetime capital gains … all perfectly legal.

But now you, Ms. Payne, have the unmitigated, self-important gall to state in your column that I am overreacting and whining!

Do not suggest Ms. Payne that this small business owner will not be affected. You asked for an example. Now you have one. Your socialist agenda has obscenely dimmed your objectivity.

 

James B. Case

Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada

St. John’s

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