Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Political rebates too rich

  • Print

The mayoral race is in full swing, with the field wide open now that Sam Katz has announced he will not be running again for office this fall. Winnipeggers then should expect to see candidates and their volunteers at their doors, seeking support at the polls and in donations to their campaigns. Some of the chat will be about what this city needs to work.

It is unlikely, amid the promises and platitudes about making Winnipeg a better place to live and work, that any of those mayoral candidates or those vying for council, also soon to come, will be vowing to cut the generous rebates to donors who make political donations. That would be counterintuitive; more likely, candidates will use the municipal rebate as added appeal to donate.

And there's good reason why donors would prefer to give monetary support to their favoured municipal candidates.

Political contributions to federal or provincial candidates or parties are tax credits and can only reduce an individual's tax bill to either or each government by a maximum of $650. The city's rebate, however, comes from sending in the invoice and can be as much as $1,000 -- more bang for your municipal-donation buck.

Political parties and candidates defend tax rebates and refunds for donations as a means of engaging voters at a higher level, giving individuals a way to directly support the democratic process. But politicians and parties are assisted by a variety of tax-supported features that rebate money for campaign expenses. Parties at both the federal and provincial levels get sizable annual payments based on the number of votes each earned in the last election.

The returns are substantial, cutting the cost substantially for running campaigns and allowing parties, especially, to build war chests for the next run at the polls.

City council and mayoral candidates can make the same case for rebates as their provincial and federal counterparts, while noting they do not have the support of party machinery during campaigns.

But what should be noted is municipal rebates come straight from the city coffers and are not refunds on taxes paid. Donors to the federal or provincial candidates or parties can use the credit only to reduce their tax bills.

In the 2010 election, the city administration sent more than $540,000 in rebates to donors. In a city strapped for cash, that counts. It's something the new city council ought to be considering in the next budget deliberations that begin immediately in the fall.

The generous returns on political contributions, however, are offensive when compared to the tax credit allowed for charitable donations, which offer refunds at a much lower rate, federally, and lesser still provincially.

To illustrate: A $500 political donation to a federal or provincial candidate or party cuts an individual's taxes by $350 to either government, but $500 to the Salvation Army would get a taxpayer a federal credit of $117 and a provincial credit of $73.80.

The city has taken up the cant, reasonably so, of straitened financial resources to pay for all the many services to property owners and citizens, and the provincial and federal governments continue to fund programs and services on deficits. (The federal and provincial tax credits for political donations were enriched to make up for the mix of caps and bans on political donations from individuals, unions and businesses.)

Already weak on principle, political-donation rebates and refunds are unreasonable in the face of the lower credit applied to charitable donations. Rather than raise the charitable tax credit, all levels of government should move to cut the returns on political donations and give the tax coffers a break.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 26, 2014 A14

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Lawless in the Morning: Gary answers your questions (March 25)

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Weather standup. Sundog. Refraction of light through ice crystals which caused both the sun dog and and fog along McPhillips Road early Wednesday morning. 071205.
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos


Will the closure of Future Shop affect your shopping?

View Results

Ads by Google