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?
tax freedom day
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.
Taxes, according to the famous quote attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., are the price we pay for a civilized society.
Fair enough. But Holmes didn't put a price tag on the notion of a civilized society. How much are you willing to pay? Or put another way, how long in the year would you be willing to work to pay for all the stuff government does?
In 2013, Canadians worked until June 10, which happens to be Tax Freedom Day, to pay all their taxes.
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.
If youve ever tried to calculate all the taxes you pay in a year to all levels of government, youve probably given up somewhere along the way. While most of us can easily decipher how much income tax we pay its right there on our tax returns its a lot more difficult to gauge how much we pay in not-so-obvious taxes.
But in reality, the Conservatives plan increases the federal tax take, increases government spending, and fails to provide a truly austere plan to balance the budget. It will, therefore, do little to improve economic growth and create jobs.
Coincidentally, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is also scheduled to deliver the federal budget on Tax Freedom Day. All expectations for the budget are that it will look much like the March version, dubiously entitled A Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth.
Happy Tax Freedom Day! Monday, British Columbians start working for themselves. In other words, if we had to pay all our taxes up front, we would have to pay each and every dollar we earned from January 1 to June 5 to various levels of government.
This of course, translates into an awful lot of money. In fact, the average British Columbian family with two or more individuals will hand-over about $36,600 in taxes to their federal, provincial and local governments (42.7% of their income).