Tuesday, September 2, 2008

To tax or not to tax … that is the question

The proposal in Canada that could lead to a carbon tax – essentially, a tax on anything that has exhaust emissions – hasn’t drawn nearly the attention it deserves.

But some folks are paying attention. And some are thinking of ways to divert that tax away from one of its most likely victims – truckers.

First, let me say this: I’m not going to get into the whole discussion on global warming. But the reality is this: Whether you agree with the idea of global warming or not, it is going to drive policy, including proposals to create taxes like this.

So back to our carbon tax. One truck driver called with an interesting suggestion – why not put the tax on the producers of carbon – the oil companies.

I’m no fan of our friends in the oil business, though I use plenty of what they make. But here are a few things to consider.

Number 1: Guess who will really pay? That’s right, you and me, because they’ll pass on the cost to their customers.

Number 2: Do we really think the oil companies’ lobby will allow this? Probably not, and they throw around a lot of money in the U.S., and I suspect in Canada.

Number 3: No matter how a carbon tax is implemented, some businesses will come out ahead and some will get the shaft. There is an incredible danger that this could end up, as so many things do, as corporate welfare for the big guys, and a burden on the small guys. And small businesses make up the bulk of trucking.

We need to find a way to address this issue, to deal with tax proposals like this, that also addresses the needs of small businesses.

A carbon tax that crushes small businesses is not a good idea for trucking, for the economy, for America and Canada, or for the environment.