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Canadian tax forms. (John Tomaselli/iStockphoto)
Canadian tax forms. (John Tomaselli/iStockphoto)

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Sept. 14: CRA probe. Plus other letters to the editor Add to ...

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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CRA probe

If the Canada Revenue Agency is going to investigate house sales to make sure taxes are being paid on house flipping, perhaps it should also require capital gains taxes to be paid on “principal residences” that are used as apartments and hotels (Real Estate Speculators Under CRA Review, Sept. 13).

When people turn their homes into businesses, whether by creating an apartment suite or renting space through Airbnb, they currently don’t have to pay any capital gains tax when the dwelling becomes just their principal residence at sale time.

Those who take advantage of these income sources should have to pay taxes on the resulting income and on capital gains, proportional to the portion of the property devoted to these purposes, when the property is sold. This is a vast underground economy with few taxes being paid.

Steen Petersen, Nanaimo, B.C.

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In the early 1960s, my father Martin established a real estate company to bring German investors to Canada. He was also instrumental in bringing Hong Kong investors to Canada in the 1980s. We and our investors abide by Canadian tax laws regarding non-residents and follow the 1981 German-Canadian Tax Treaty.

On behalf our clients, we withhold and submit taxes to the Canada Revenue Agency for all income earned from commercial real estate investments. When a non-resident sells real estate, we must first obtain permission from the CRA and withhold any taxes related to the sale.

For more than 50 years we have been diligent in complying with Canada’s tax and real estate licensing laws. It is very disheartening to learn that others do not do the same.

Hilary Börner, Montvest Realty Ltd., Oakville, Ont.

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That the CRA had not been pursuing alleged Chinese tax cheats for fear of being perceived as racist is shocking (Out Of The Shadows, Focus, Sept. 10). Political correctness, especially in government, is a dangerous concept.

The CRA is abdicating its responsibilities if it is picking and choosing alleged tax cheats by their race. All individuals must be treated equally, regardless of their race. Is that not the Canadian way?

Ronald Dimos, Nanaimo, B.C.

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Hydro optics

Re Liberals Unveil Hydro Subsidy As Wynne Begins Pivot To Election (Sept. 13): A subsidy should be shaped to encourage desired outcomes. Thus the Ontario Liberal government’s hydro subsidy should have been applied only to off-peak consumption, for it to make any sense in any way except as a “voter bribe.”

P. Mihok, Markham, Ont.

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A political mantra: When all else fails, bribe the electors with their own money.

Joel L. Rubinovich, Toronto

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Plain talk

Re Clinton’s Health Scare Spurs Larger Concern (Folio, Sept. 13): John Ibbitson writes that “with typical selfishness, the boomers have decided they want to own the White House a second time” and that “they should have let go.”

Hilary Clinton lost her first fight for the presidency to Barack Obama and she’s trying for the job again. She’s not giving up. What’s wrong with that? She has never “owned” the White House. She was married to a president, she wasn’t the president herself – a big difference. She’s not ready for the dustbin just because she’s in her 60s.

Cassandra King, Clementsport, N.S.

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Why is it that a 68-year-old woman’s near-fainting episode after standing still on a hot humid day is referred to as “swooning”? When a physically fit soldier standing at attention on a hot humid day collapses, we refer to it as “fainting.”

The word “swooning” in this context is demeaning and is almost exclusively used in referring to women, signifying a kind of inborn feminine weakness.

Gavin Hamilton, London, Ont.

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Food for thought

Re When It’s Too Costly Even To Be Poor (editorial, Sept. 13) When the Crystal Serenity and future cruise ships drop anchor near Cambridge Bay, Nunavut and other places where food costs are high, why not have them deliver food as well? Would this not expand on the expensive, and often only, option of flying in supplies?

Donald Wolfer, Spruce Grove, Alta.

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Addictive approach

Alana Hirsh’s essay teaches us to look beyond the exterior to find the beauty within each person (How Patients With Addiction Problems Showed Me A Better Way To Cope (Life & Arts, Sept. 12). Her account reminded me of volunteer work I did several years ago in a federal prison for men. I found such honesty, trust and openness that connected us, that I never really cared why they were there. In searching her own soul, Ms. Hirsh is able to find the pain and struggle of the other, and relate it to the human condition. We can all learn from each other and offer understanding and compassion.

Patricia Houston, Victoria

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Due process

Re Vancouver School Suspends ‘Process Drama’ Exercise (Sept. 12): As a drama education teacher of 20 years, I can assure you that process drama is never about humiliation or deceiving participants. Process drama, a rich learning medium developed by Dorothy Heathcote, is about engagement because the story matters to those who are in it.

It’s experiential learning at its finest, but not when the process or participants are outside of the story or manipulated with an external motive that is secretive.

Jan Buley, professor, literacy and drama education, Laurentian University, Sudbury

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A fitting find

Re Find May Be Last Piece In Franklin Expedition Puzzle (Sept. 13): Sir John Franklin’s long-lost HMS Terror has been found thanks to the knowledge of Sammy Kogvik, an Inuk from Gjoa Haven – an important example of the contribution of local Inuit knowledge to Arctic research and affairs.

Important, too, is the symbolism of the role of the Arctic Research Foundation’s research vessel, the Martin Bergmann. Marty was one of the most influential people in promoting Canada’s Arctic interests as a scientist and manager in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and then as director of the Polar Continental Shelf Project at Natural Resources Canada. He died in a plane crash in Resolute Bay on Aug. 20, 2011.

It is appropriate that the vessel named in his honour played the central role in this historic event. Marty would have been thrilled at the way this happened.

Peter Harrison (former deputy minister, Natural Resources Canada and Department of Fisheries and Oceans), Orleans, Ont.

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