Book: Tax billionaires for tuition

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By Miranda Scotland

It’s time someone fixed the ovarian lottery, Linda McQuaig told the audience Sept. 28 during a lecture in the Ryerson Student Campus Centre. McQuaig appeared with her co-author, Neil Brooks, to promote their new book The Trouble with Billionaires.
McQuaig said the book argues that people who inherit large sums of money should have to share and the inheritance tax should be reinstated.
“They’ve shown no particular skill or talent or effort beyond having the brilliance to be born into the right family,” she said.
“We suggest that you should be able to inherit up to $1.5 million without paying any tax at all… but after $1.5 million we think you should start paying a gradual tax,” McQuaig said.
Although successful, McQuaig, who has written eight books and has years of reporting under her belt, said she is far from being a billionaire and her last book made “not nearly enough.”
But if she got rich she would be happy to pay taxes. The money from the inheritance tax, McQuaig said, would be used to set-up educational trust funds for every Canadian child.
“We’ve done the math, every Canadian child when he or she turns 16 would get $16,000,” she said. “We think this would be a tremendous way to give everybody a chance to
live their dreams.”
Neil Brooks, a professor at Osgoode Hall law school York University, agreed, adding that there are a lot of people who could use help paying for school.
“The tuition fee now at law school is $16,000 which excludes about 95% of the population,” Brooks said, later including another reason for the tax.
“One point of the inheritance tax is to try to break up these enormous accumulations of wealth and spread these shares much more broadly.”
Equality is important, he said, because it greatly affects society’s social economic stability. The inheritance tax is just one way to use the system in the fight against inequality,
Brooks said.
“If we want to achieve a more equal society we have to use the tax system,” he said. “It’s the only way you can target [the] really rich.”
Photo by Marta Iwanek


  1. Private philanthropy is far more efficient than redistributed taxation.

    Many “Billionaires” are extremely generous (ie Bill gates, Warren Buffet). Had they been taxed early in their careers their wealth would have been wasted by bureaucrats on non-appreciative students.

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