By Andy Walker
It is time for the federal government to settle its obligation to fishermen involved in the Atlantic Groundfish License Retirement Program, maintains Liberal Fisheries Critic Lawrence MacAulay.
“Fishermen were initially told in March 2000 that the entire payment was to be treated as a capital gain, meaning they were taxed on 75 per cent of their income,” said MacAulay, who represents the eastern PEI riding of Cardigan and is the longest serving MP in Atlantic Canada.
However, the Canada Revenue Agency later made a deal with a number of fishermen that would see half the payment taxable and the other half treated as a capital gain. MacAulay said 752 fishermen have been fighting the Canada Revenue Agency since 2006 to have the extra tax they paid refunded.
Last month Federal Court judge Madam Justice Heneghan ruled that Revenue Canada must review taxes paid on buyouts in the AGLRP.
“Fishermen in this program were not treated equally or fairly and paid thousands of dollars more in taxes than they should have. Will the Revenue Minister immediately settle with these fishermen, who have been treated so unfairly”, MacAulay asked fellow Island MP and National Revenue Minister Gail Shea in the House of Commons recently.
The veteran MP added “ This is a very serious issue where the Government of Canada has blatantly treated people unfairly and has brought economic harm to families who are struggling to make ends meet.”
The former solicitor general added “Some of the fishermen paid over $20,000 more in taxes than their neighbours and that is simply not fair.” MacAulay added “Many have struggled to pay their bills and unfortunately several dozen have passed away while the Government has fought this case in the courts for the past five years. It is high time the Government stepped up and gave these people what they so rightfully deserve."
He wants the Government to urgently repay these fishermen what they are owed, along with interest incurred.