Until recently, there was a consensus in favour of competitive business taxes. But whenever governments are strapped for cash - which is most of the time for most of them, given their voracious appetite for spending - eyes quickly turn to corporate income taxes as an expedient and presumed painless way to extract more revenue. Two provinces raised corporate tax rates in 2013.
About five years ago, I became acquainted with a retired fellow by the name of Jim Tocher. Then in his eighties, Mr. Tocher was a classic Canadian success story. Born in Golden, B.C., he spent his early years in Yoho National Park where his father worked as a park warden. As a teenager, Jim worked as a park guide, for the Canadian Pacific Railway as a fireman and for Brewster bus lines, ferrying people into the national parks.
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?
It's not your imagination. Your property taxes really are shooting higher.
For those who haven't paid attention to their property tax bill until recently, let me offer some calculations: Had the city and province stuck to inflation-only increases starting in 2007, a homeowner with a $2,500 property tax bill in 2006 would see a $2,858 bill this year. Instead, the charge will be $3,430, or an extra $572. The cumulative effect over seven years is an extra $1,538.
Many Canadians and commentators in other countries lauding Canada's government-dominated approach to health care refer to Canadian health care as "free." If healthcare actually was free, the relatively poor performance of the health care system might not seem all that bad. But the reality is that the Canadian health care system is not free in fact, Canadian families pay heavily for healthcare through the tax system. That high price paints the long wait times and lack of medical technologies in Canada in a very different light.
When Manitobas NDP government delivered its budget back in April, Finance Minister Stan Struthers ruffled some feathers with his announcement of an increase in the provincial sales tax (PST) to eight per cent from seven per cent, effective July 1, which happens to be Canada Day. His proposed tax hike has been hotly debated ever since.
If you live in Calgary and you check your property tax bill this month, rest assured you are not imagining things: property taxes really are on the rise and way above inflation.
Some background: Calgary's property tax bill has two components, with the city's share at 56 per cent and the province's at 44 per cent.
Since 2007, the earliest year for which I have statistics, the province has hiked its rate beyond inflation in five of seven years. But the provincial government also dropped its taxes twice, in 2011 and this year.