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.
Discussions about taxes are inevitably polarizing. Some Canadians think taxes are too high while others happily pay their share. But given the litany of taxes levied on us by the three levels of government, it is nearly impossible to get a sense of how much we truly pay.
In a recent debate on the pages of the National Post many Albertans might have missed, two economists, Rhys Kesselman from Simon Fraser University, and Jack Mintz from the University of Calgary, sparred over the most desirable tax mix for Alberta. Kesselman wanted Albertas single income tax rate replaced with cascading tax brackets, and structured to ensure higher overall taxes. Mintz advocated a sales tax but with the caveat that it be revenue neutral, i.e., some other tax should be lowered in exchange.
There might be a thousand reasons why people hate sales taxes. Here are three: First, theyre visible; second, in Alberta, where no provincial sales tax exists, there is justifiable pride that people have escaped at least one tax applied elsewhere in Canada; third, many Albertans rightly fear that if a government introduced a new tax, it would be just another way to separate taxpayers from their money and to spend more and inefficiently so.
Shortly before unveiling the provincial budget in March, Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand told reporters that the average family pays enough taxes in Quebec. We couldnt agree more. This year Quebecers have to wait until June 17 (nearly six months) to celebrate Tax Freedom Day. That is, if the average family in Quebec had to pay all the taxes it owed to all levels of government in advance, they would have to hand-over every single dollar they earned up to June 17Tax Freedom Day.