If you asked average Canadian families what their largest expense is, many would probably say housing. And you can’t blame them. Mortgage and rental payments are a painful monthly reminder of how much we pay for this basic necessity.
No one really thinks we should abolish all taxes. After all, how would governments fund important public services that form the foundation of our economy? Think of services like protecting property, building infrastructure, upholding the legal system, to name a few. The real debate is about the amount of taxes that governments extract from us given the services we get in return.
Like other Canadians, you work hard for your money.
Faced with essential expenses such as food, clothing, and shelter, your household budget may feel squeezed. But what if we told you, your family's biggest expense is taxes?
Sure, you know how much you pay in income tax. After all, it's right there on your income tax return. In fact, income tax is the largest and most visible tax, taking $14 out of every $100 your family earns.
But that's just scratching the surface.
"Income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf," said the American humourist Will Rogers. Indeed, but lets not stop there. In Canada, debates over taxes, government and civilization lead some journalists and others into the land of make-believe, this by setting up straw men to knock down.
For example, consider a recent CBC story headlined "Not all business people hate taxes - but just try to get them to admit it."
To which one can only say: This is news?
As Albertans approach another provincial budget, the usual fables about Alberta's finances often crop up. To inoculate ourselves in advance, let's ponder two myths.
Myth Number One: Alberta's wealth is a result of luck.
This tall tale assumes that the existence of natural resources automatically results in wealth creation, jobs, and a higher standard of living. That's hardly the case. Plenty of jurisdictions have little in the way of natural resources but prosper, while others have plentiful natural resources yet flounder.
On Wednesday, the day after delivering the 2014 federal budget, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty set off a firestorm by offering his view on income-splitting, a platform commitment the Conservatives made for when the government returns to a balanced budget (likely next year). I'm not sure that, overall, it [income-splitting] benefits our society, Minister Flaherty stated, preferring instead to, reduce taxes more.
While readers of this page will know we haven't always agreed with Minister Flaherty over the years, he is right on the money with respect to income-splitting.
A new year can bring new possibilities. Its a chance to take stock of what weve accomplished in the past year and to set new goals for the future. Its also, however, when Canadian governments typically enact new taxes. Unfortunately, governments across the country in recent years have been all too keen to bring in new taxes or increase existing ones, resulting in squeezed household budgets. The question for 2014 then, is will this trend continue or will governments recognize its time to give taxpayers a break?