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Quebeckers celebrate Tax Freedom Day on June 19th, third latest among Canadian provinces

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Release Date: June 13, 2008

MONTREAL, QC- Quebec has the third latest Tax Freedom Day in Canada, on June 19, ahead of only Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, according to The Fraser Institute's annual Tax Freedom Day calculations.

On a national basis, Tax Freedom Day, the day Canadians have paid off the total tax bill imposed on them by government and can finally start working for themselves, arrives on June 14, four days earlier than in 2007.

"Quebeckers spend almost half the year working to pay all the various taxes levied on them by federal, provincial and local governments. Every dollar they earn before June 19 would be required to pay the taxes owing to all levels of government," said Nathalie Elgrably-Lévy, the Fraser Institute's Senior Economist, Québec et la francophonie.

"Quebeckers face one of the highest tax burdens in Canada. Look next door to Ontario, where taxpayers celebrate Tax Freedom Day 10 full days earlier than Quebecers."

Quebec's Tax Freedom Day Compared to Other Provinces

Alberta enjoys the earliest Tax Freedom Day on May 28, followed by New Brunswick on June 3 and Prince Edward Island on June 4. Next comes Manitoba (June 8), followed by Ontario (June 9), Nova Scotia (June 12), British Columbia (June 13), and Quebec (June 19). Saskatchewan has the second-latest Tax Freedom Day (June 20) with Newfoundland and Labrador waiting the longest, until June 30.

However, if natural resource royalties are excluded from the calculations, Quebec, at June 19, has the latest Tax Freedom Day among all Canadian provinces. There is an ongoing debate whether natural resource royalties are actually a tax or simply the conversion of an asset (natural resources such as oil and gas) into an income stream for the province. If natural resource revenues are excluded, Tax Freedom Day is 27 days earlier in Newfoundland and Labrador (June 3), 12 days earlier in Alberta (May 16), 11 days earlier in Saskatchewan (June 9), and five days earlier in British Columbia (June 8).

The Atlantic Provinces have also historically had some of the country's earliest Tax Freedom Days in part because a large share of their total revenue is transferred from other provinces through the federal government's equalization payments. Tax Freedom Day in those provinces, as well as in Manitoba and Quebec, comes earlier than it would without these transfers. On the other hand, Tax Freedom Days in the traditional 'have' provinces of Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia come later than would be the case without these transfers.

Reasons For An Earlier Tax Freedom Day

Quebec's June 19th Tax Freedom Day is an improvement on 2007, when Tax Freedom Day fell on June 24. In this sense, Quebec mirrored the rest of the provinces where Tax Freedom Day arrived earlier in 2008 than in 2007. The greatest improvements came in Manitoba (seven days), and Saskatchewan and British Columbia (six days).

There are several reasons why Tax Freedom Day comes earlier in 2008: the federal government's reduction in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to five per cent from six per cent, which took effect on January 1, 2008, moved Tax Freedom Day up by two days and the fact that 2008 was a leap year moved Tax Freedom day up by one day.

"While the earlier Tax Freedom Day is welcome news for Quebec taxpayers, it cannot be attributed to actions taken by the Quebec government. Despite promises of tax relief dating back to 2003, the provincial tax burden has remained unchanged," Elgrably-Lévy said.

She also cautioned that an earlier Tax Freedom Day can also be generated by cautious revenue projections on the part of Canadian governments. Federal and provincial budget forecasts of how much revenue will be collected are one of the key components of the Tax Freedom Day calculations. Low projections for tax revenue, especially relative to projected increases in personal incomes, can result in Tax Freedom Day appearing to fall earlier.

Total Tax Bill Has Increased

In 2008, the average Quebec family (with two or more individuals) will earn $76,489 and pay a total of $35,454 in taxes, for a total tax bill amounting to 46.4 per cent of its income.

Income for the average Quebec family will increase by 2.4 per cent ($1,826) between 2007 and 2008 while the total tax bill increases 0.2 per cent ($61). The largest increase among the myriad of taxes comes in the form of income tax, up $184 for the average Quebec family.

The taxes used to compute Tax Freedom Day include income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, profit taxes, health, social security and employment taxes, import duties, license fees, taxes on the consumption of alcohol and tobacco, natural resource fees, fuel taxes, hospital taxes and a host of other levies.

"It is virtually impossible for the average Quebecker to truly know how much tax they pay. The point of Tax Freedom Day is to give people a comprehensive and easy-to-understand indicator of the total amount of taxes paid to all three levels of government," said Tasha Kheiriddin, The Fraser Institute's Directrice, Québec et la Francophonie.

Quebeckers can calculate their personal Tax Freedom Day using The Fraser Institute's Personal Tax Freedom Day Calculator.



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