taxes

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A new year can bring new possibilities. It’s a chance to take stock of what we’ve accomplished in the past year and to set new goals for the future. It’s 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 it’s time to give taxpayers a break?


3:00AM
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Fiscal policy is really about taxes and spending and the federal government recently provided some hints on its plans in these areas.

In the recent Speech from the Throne, the government reaffirmed its commitment to balancing the budget by 2015-16 and providing "greater tax relief for Canadian families" after the budget is balanced. But what form this tax relief may take remains a mystery.


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In the recent Speech from the Throne, the federal government announced a variety of initiatives but the one that drew much attention was its ostensible consumer-friendly tack.

On some consumer issues, the Conservative government has the right instincts, promoting competition within the cellphone sector for example, even if its approach to the upcoming wireless spectrum auction is flawed.

In other places, the Harper government’s predisposition is counter-productive.

For instance, ponder the federal government’s desire to micromanage how airlines double-book seats.


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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.


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When Manitoba’s 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.


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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.


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The BC Liberals and particularly Premier Christy Clark deserve the praise they’re receiving for their surprise electoral victory. After all, the Liberals reversed a double-digit deficit in the polls and ended up securing a majority government. This moment of jubilation for the Liberals and their supporters will be short-lived however, as the reality of governing in difficult times takes hold. The litmus test for the success of this government, which they themselves established, is the success of the economy and in particular, jobs.


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If business leaders ever wonder why a chunk of the public disdain business and call for higher corporate taxes or sector-specific increases (higher royalty rates for energy and mining, higher stumpage fees in forestry) or just increased business taxation in general, here’s a clue: too many companies are addicted to corporate welfare.

Crony capitalism is problematic all on its own. Addiction to it only reinforces the perception that businesses can’t be bothered to compete on merit, in an open market, but prefer to plead for political favours and protection at taxpayers’ expense.