At a time when many Canadians are struggling to get by, a full-page ad calling for cuts to capital gains tax has been running on multiple Canadian newspapers. The ads frame the current COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity for such measures to be enacted. In the version printed in the March 18th edition of the Toronto Star, the ad urges the Canadian government to:

Establish a capital gains exemption for the proceeds of an arms-length sale of private company shares or real estate. This exemption would apply to the portion of proceeds that are donated to a registered charity

Screenshot of Toronto Star print of the ad

The practice of donating public company shares to dodge capital gains taxes already exists. It is a notable tax loophole that allows wealthy individuals to avoid taxes on some of their biggest gains, while also building a legacy in the form of rooms, wings, and buildings named after them. 

In 2015, the Harper government almost passed precisely what the ad is asking for, but ultimately back-tracked. 

Some Canadians have been outraged by the opportunistic timing of these ads, noting that they seek to capitalize on the national health crisis. 

Of course, the tax changes would be a boon to large charitable organizations, who would also stand to benefit from massive charitable contributions. Indeed, the ad is signed by the executives of some of the largest patrons of the super-rich – including the Royal Ontario Museum, the University of Toronto, and The National Ballet of Canada. 

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