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The rise of the taxers 

By Kevin Gaudet
web posted April 26, 2010

Nothing focuses attention better on just how high taxes are in Canada than the annual tax-filing deadline. This year, while Canadians are filing their taxes, they must also suffer through growing calls to hike taxes even further. These calls must be answered with the clear response "Canadians are taxed more than enough already!" 

Calls for new and higher taxes are coming from the usual tax-hike proponents (AKA Taxers); public sector unions, lobby groups like the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the NDP, David Suzuki and his ilk, and media like the Toronto Star. In some cases, calls are coming from less usual places as even headlines from the Sun newspaper chain recently screamed "Taxes Must Rise." 

In an effort to create the illusion of being 'fair and balanced' on the issue, Taxers say they agree that the budget must be balanced. But instead of calling for cuts to government waste, they scaremonger by saying that taxes must be hiked or hospitals and schools will close. Of course, this simplistic argument falsely assumes the only way to reduce spending is to hack away at the most cherished services. 

Taxers don't seem to realize that spending can be reduced without cutting the services most valued by citizens. 

Sadly, the Taxers are winning these days.  

Taxes are rising across the country, especially for individuals and families. Both Ontario and B.C. will see the new Harmonized Sales Tax increase consumption taxes by 8 per cent and 7 per cent respectively on items previously untaxed. Quebec has seen a new health tax and a 2 per cent increase in its sales tax over two years. Nova Scotia announced a 2 per cent increase in its sales tax. Residents of B.C. also have continually rising health and carbon taxes.  

Taxes are going up at every level of government. Municipal property tax rates are climbing well beyond the rate of inflation and have been for years. As well, the federal government will increase EI premiums next January while continuing to fund lavish training programs with the cash. 

These tax hikes explain why Canadians feel they work harder and harder yet keep falling further and further behind. Is it any wonder personal savings are low when so much more money goes to taxes year after year? 

In fact the Fraser Institute's annual Consumer Tax Index shows the average Canadian family's tax bill is now higher than food, clothing and shelter – combined. Families keeps 10 per cent less of their hard-earned cash than they did 50 years ago because their income is paying to fund the large and growing size and cost of government. This clever report clearly shows how, as a percentage of an average family's total income, taxes have climbed from 33.5 per cent to 41.7 per cent over 50 years. 

When Taxers call for even more tax hikes instead of spending reductions they ignore the reality that governments could drastically reduce spending without cutting cherished programs. Government could start by eliminating corporate welfare and bringing public sector wages in line with the private sector, for example. Spending goes down without affecting service! 

Governments should focus on getting their spending priorities straight before Taxers have even more success in convincing politicians it's OK to hike taxes. ESR

Kevin Gaudet is the federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. © 2010, Kevin Gaudet

 

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