Canadian families face larger tax burden than last year

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Appeared in the Ottawa Sun, June 13, 2024
Canadian families face larger tax burden than last year

According to a recent poll, nearly half of all Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque. While inflation has cooled and the steep growth in grocery prices has abated, taxes remain the single largest expense for Canadian families, and their tax bill continues to rise.

Canadians pay many different taxes and it can be hard to know how much you pay in total. We pay income taxes, sales taxes, health taxes, payroll taxes, property taxes and many others as part of our total tax bill. But while some of these taxes are visible—for example, you can check your income tax return to see how much you pay in personal income taxes—many others are hidden.

To help Canadians understand how much they pay in taxes, each year the Fraser Institute calculates Tax Freedom Day—the day of the year when the average Canadian family has earned enough money to pay all taxes levied by the federal, provincial and local governments. In other words, if Canadians were required to pay all their taxes up front, each and every dollar they earned prior to Tax Freedom Day would be paid to the government.

In 2024, the average Canadian family (two or more people) earning $147,570 will pay an estimated $65,766 in total taxes—or 44.6 per cent of its income. So, if you paid all your taxes for 2024 up front, you would pay the government every dollar you earned until June 13. After working the first 164 days of the year for the government, you now get to work for yourself.

Arriving on June 13, this year’s Tax Freedom Day comes one day later than last year—meaning the average Canadian family must work one day extra to pay off its total tax bill—because while the average family saw its income rise by 3.1 per cent, its total tax bill rose by 3.9 per cent.

And all signs point to rising taxes in the future.

This year the federal government expects to run a $39.8 billion deficit. Moreover, cumulative provincial deficits are projected to equal $30.1 billion, meaning total federal/provincial government debt is expected to increase by $69.9 billion in 2024/25. Future generations of Canadians will undoubtedly face tax increases to pay off this debt and few governments are demonstrating any fiscal restraint. Several governments (notably the federal government) have no plans to balance their budgets in the foreseeable future.

To help illustrate the size of the debt burden we’re passing on, we also calculate a Balanced Budget Tax Freedom Day, which reveals the hypothetical tax burden on Canadians if governments across the country had to raise taxes today to balance their budgets. This year, Balanced Budget Tax Freedom Day would arrive on June 23—10 days later than Tax Freedom Day.

With Tax Freedom Day falling one day later than last year, the burden of taxation is increasing for Canadian families. Unfortunately, governments are demonstrating little to no fiscal restraint, meaning Tax Freedom Day will likely arrive later in years to come.