It’s not every day a Saskatchewan farmer gets a call directly from the federal finance minister in response to a tweet, but that’s what happened to Terry Youzwa this week.
Youzwa, who farms outside Nipawin, and his wife Sandee have both attracted some political attention following social media posts and letters against the Liberal government’s proposed tax changes on small business and people who incorporate.
“I feel it’s important to speak up for agriculture on this issue, our voice wasn’t being heard so I had to be bold, and it’s a hill I’m prepared to die on,” Youzwa explained in an interview with John Gormley on Wednesday.
“It’s tragic what’s going on and there’s a revolution and a class war that’s going on that’s building across the country and I can’t believe a government would put us in this situation.”
Youzwa shared an open letter from his wife to the prime minister and the finance minister describing how the tax on inter-generational transfer of land will jeopardize their plan to pass on the family farm to their son.
— Terry Youzwa (@hugewalleye) September 11, 2017
— Dirt Sweat N Tears (@farmermegzz) September 18, 2017
Youzwa said under the proposed tax reforms, the land would be taxed at a rate of 40 per cent when transferring it to family members, but if they were to sell it to someone else, it would only be taxed at 24 per cent.
“Why in the world would there be an incentive to sell it elsewhere than to your own child? This is obscene, it’s absolutely ridiculous,” he commented.
Youzwa also used the example of someone renting out land for retirement being taxed 73 per cent on top of paying municipal taxes.
“What’s left to live with? That was your retirement plan, that was your pension plan you know,” he said.
On Tuesday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau tweeted a photo of himself on the phone talking to “Terry from Saskatchewan”.
Just got off the phone with Terry from Sask. Heard from him on our work to make the tax system fair. Thanks for the call – I'm listening. pic.twitter.com/lDssCNjNJ8
— Bill Morneau (@Bill_Morneau) September 19, 2017
Youzwa noted that the conversation was very civil, but said he wasn’t satisfied with any of the answers he got from the politician.
“He said ‘that’s not true’ and he interrupted me a couple of times and he claimed he heard my concerns and that what I was saying wasn’t true,” Youzwa said.
When it comes to possible tax changes and their impact on his farm, Youzwa said he will believe his accountant and other financial experts he has heard from.
Youzwa said he was left with the impression that there is a huge disconnect between what the government is telling people about the proposed tax reforms, and how financial experts are interpreting it.
He encouraged all farmers and other small business owners to keep calling Liberal MPs to make sure their voices are heard in Ottawa.
— Terry Youzwa (@hugewalleye) September 15, 2017