total tax bill

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No one really thinks we should abolish all taxes. After all, how would governments fund important public services that form the foundation of our economy? Think of services like protecting property, building infrastructure, upholding the legal system, to name a few. The real debate is about the amount of taxes that governments extract from us given the services we get in return.


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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?


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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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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.


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Unless analyzing tax policy is part of your day job, you likely avoid thinking about what ultimately can be a polarizing topic. But with the deadline for filing our income tax returns around the corner, we’re all forced to at least temporarily think about taxes. The deadline after all is a sharp reminder of how much income tax we paid throughout the year.


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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 couldn’t 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 17—Tax Freedom Day.