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BriefsReportTable of ContentReport IndexRoyal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and SciencesRoyal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and SciencesRoyal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences

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1. In the postscript to the preceding section, we referred briefly to certain legislative and regulatory restraints which, in the view of many who appeared before us, imposed hardship or vexation on a number of voluntary organizations and on museums and art galleries in Canada. At that place it was suggested that these restraints might usefully be reviewed since so many of the organizations submitting briefs to us seemed convinced that the Federal Government, if not disposed to give positive aid to their activities in the public interest, might at least refrain from making them more difficult.

2. In reviewing the voluminous and authoritative testimony on which this present long and varied section has been based, we find that the scholar, the scientist, the artist, the writer and the publisher feel that they are unnecessarily or unjustly hampered in their work by restrictions imposed by the Federal Government. Thus the Société des Ecrivains Canadiens and others propose that intellectual workers should be able to deduct from their income tax the amounts which they must spend for books, documents, research work and materials in general which are in effect the tools of their trade. It was pointed out to us also that physicians and lawyers may count their purchases of books as essential expenses of their profession in computing income tax, a concession not permitted to teachers, writers or to scholars generally. We have been told also that there are apparently certain inconsistencies and uncertainties in the manner in which income tax regulations are applied to the funds received by scholars and scientists for fellowships, scholarships and research grants. The Sculptors' Society of Canada suggests that not only war memorials but also public monuments and memorials in general be exempt from sales tax, and that the luxury tax be lifted from the dies and strikings of medals made for purposes of award as distinct from medals sold in quantity as jewellery. The Canadian Handicrafts Guild refers to the disability under which hand-craftsmen work in that their products must pay the same tax as that levied on mass produced articles, and thus they claim, there is no incentive to the artist


in jewellery or in metal-work. Musicians also find it hard that they must pay heavy duty and other imposts on orchestral instruments not manufactured in Canada.

3. But it was from the writer and the book-publisher that we heard most on this subject. The Canadian Authors Association proposes that writers be permitted to spread their income from the publication of a book over a longer period than is now permitted.

"If once in a lifetime, a Canadian novelist sells to an American Book Club, he is taxed at a millionaire rate, although for years his income may have been or may in the future be below even subsistence level."1

The Académie Canadienne-Française suggests that expenses incurred in preparing a book be considered as deductable expenses for income tax purposes. The Canadian Writers' Committee points out that book royalties are classified as unearned income and are therefore subject to surtax, and feels that this is not equitable; the Committee also suggests that the sale of motion picture or serial rights should be considered as capital gains, since this income is not recurrent, rather than as part of the yearly income. The fiscal difficulties of book publishers are discussed in some detail in Chapter XV of this Report.

4. On the justice of the various claims we do not venture to pass judgement; they have no doubt been frequently brought to the attention of the departments of government concerned. We might, however, suggest that if, as the creation of this Royal Commission implies, the Federal Government proposes to take a more positive and direct interest in the work of Canadian scholars, writers and artists, it may be appropriate to review the fiscal restraints which many of them appear to find burdensome. We have been particularly impressed with the many representations made to us on the present taxes and tariffs imposed upon the importation and the sale of books in Canada. We found in Newfoundland, for example, some surprise and even resentment that books not published in Canada should be subject to import duties; and in many of our sessions it was suggested to us that a sales tax, however legitimate and essential on consumer goods generally, should not in a well-ordered society be applicable to books which are still, in spite of radio and films, the most important means of enlightenment. We understand that certain classes of text books may be imported without duty; we should welcome an extension of this sensible practice to all books of whatever nature, where this can be done without imposing hardship upon the Canadian book-publishing industry; and we believe that the Federal Government would do an important service to Canadian letters and to Canadian scholarship by abandoning the sales tax on books of every description.

* From: Canada. Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters, and Sciences. Report. Ottawa : King's Printer, 1951. By permission of the Privy Council Office.

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