Professor Duff Appointed to MSP Task Force and MLI Travelling Lecture

Although he’ll still be shouldering a regular teaching load this spring term, Professor David Duff’s interest in the real world social and policy implications of taxation law will see him engaging in two significant public roles over the coming months—one local, the other international.

Professor Duff has been appointed by the Province of British Columbia to a task force charged with advising the government on how best to eliminate Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums within the next four years. The task force will produce a final report by March 31, 2018, advising on other ways the lost premium revenue for health care expenditures can be made up. And in January of the new year, Professor Duff will also be the featured speaker in the 2018 International Fiscal Association (IFA) Travelling Lecture, taking him across Canada to discuss the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (known as the MLI), a new legal instrument with over 70 signatories across jurisdictions worldwide which aims to close gaps in international tax rules.

Professor Duff explains the context for the MSP task force:  “In its September economic update, the current NDP-Green government committed to cutting all MSP premiums in half starting January 2018 and eliminating them completely over the next 4 years. Since MSP premiums currently raise approximately $2.7 billion and will raise about half this amount when premiums are reduced in January, eliminating the premiums will create a substantial revenue gap that will have to be made up somehow.”

Duff will be working closely with chair Professor Lindsay Tedds, an associate professor in the school of public administration at the University of Victoria; and Paul Ramsey,  a Canadian academic and former politician.

“My particular expertise in tax law and policy complements Dr. Tedd's expertise in public policy more generally and Mr. Ramsey's government experience,” he says.

When explaining why there is general consensus across the political spectrum that the MSP should be reduced or eliminated, he said: “First they are administratively costly to collect, so that substantial revenues are consumed by administrative costs instead of being devoted to health care. With respect to fairness, the premiums are generally regarded as regressive, which means that they impose a larger relative burden on low-income earners than high-income earners -- which is a consequence of the fact that they apply at a flat rate of $75 a month per person or $150 a month per couple for individuals with income over $42,000.”

The task force will produce a final report by March 31, 2018, advising other ways health care expenditures may be funded.

Duff will also be busy in the month of January as the speaker in the 2018 IFA Travelling Lecture which will take him across Canada discussing the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (the MLI).

The International Fiscal Association (IFA) is a global non-government organization devoted to international tax law. Their objectives are the study and advancement of international and comparative law in regard to public finance, specifically international and comparative fiscal law and the financial and economic aspects of taxation.

He admits that the topic is a bit esoteric but says he “hopes that audience members will take away an understanding of this new legal instrument and its impact on international tax law and Canada’s bilateral tax treaties (which will be affected by the MLI) — particularly with new provisions designed to prevent the abuse of tax treaties that can result in profit shifting by multinational enterprises and the erosion of domestic tax bases.”

Duff will be in Vancouver on January 22, Calgary January 23, Ottawa January 26, Toronto January 29 and Montreal February 2. Allard School of Law alumni are encouraged to attend. Learn more about the travelling lecture.