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Ontario’s Green Energy “Fee”: The Trouble with Taxation through Regulation

Listed author(s):
  • Benjamin Alarie

    (University of Toronto)

  • Finn Poschmann

    (C.D. Howe Institute)

Registered author(s):

    Canadian provincial governments have broad authority to impose direct taxes by passing enabling legislation in their respective legislatures. Governments may also use regulation to set fees, for example, to recover the cost of services they provide, but cannot use regulation to impose taxes that raise general revenue. Doing so would be unconstitutional. Governments nonetheless sometimes attempt to raise revenue by imposing levies that are deliberately mislabelled as “fees” – past efforts to do so have exposed provincial governments to successful constitutional challenges. This e-brief examines problematic example: the Ontario government recently ordered the Ontario Energy Board to impose a “fee” to be used to fund activities of the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure; this fee is quite likely an unconstitutional tax.

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    Paper provided by C.D. Howe Institute in its series e-briefs with number 98.

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    Length: 5 pages
    Date of creation: Apr 2010
    Publication status: Published on the C.D. Howe Institute website, April 2010
    Handle: RePEc:cdh:ebrief:98
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