The average Canadian family’s largest expense is taxes.
Therefore it should not be unreasonable that Canadians expect all levels of government to not waste their tax dollars, money taken off their paychecks and paid into the system.
Whether tax dollars are wasted when a government pays a negotiation bonus to unions, or if they have to pay private companies a fine after breaking contracts with them, governments must do a better job at keeping the optics above-board and avoid $200,000 moving expenses or $1300 a person dinners altogether!
But they don’t, or they can’t, and we, as Canadians have come to expect that from our elected officials.
If governments want to spend fast and loose with money, let it be their own, or at the very least taxes off of non-Canadians – like withholding taxes, or something of the like.
But if we, as Canadians do not hold these governments accountable for their spending of our taxes, we allow them to continue to do this and they will continue to do so.
If we held our elected officials to a higher standard and used the opportunity to remove governments who wasted taxpayer dollars immediately, it would send a message to the next government that they have to spend wisely.
This information came out in the late summer months from the Fraser Institute, an economic think-tank.
To clarify, when referring to taxes, its not just income taxes, but all the taxes Canadian Taxpayers make to all levels of governments (federal, provincial, and local), including both visible and hidden taxes— everything from income taxes, which are less than a third of the total, to payroll taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, health taxes, fuel taxes, vehicle taxes, import taxes, alcohol taxes, and much more.
In a recent report published by the Fraser Institute, they tracked the total tax bill of the average Canadian family from 1961 to 2014.
For 2014, they estimated that the average Canadian family (including unattached Canadians) earned $79,010 in income and paid $33,272 in total taxes—or 42.1% of income—while just 36.6% went to food, clothing, and shelter combined.
Indeed, Canadian families spend more on taxes than the basic necessities of life.
But it wasn’t always this way.
Back in 1961, the first year the Fraser Institute started tracking this data, the average Canadian family paid a much smaller portion of its household income in taxes (33.5%) while spending proportionately more on the basic necessities (56.5%).
Since 1961, Canadians’ total tax bills have increased by 1,886%, dwarfing increases in shelter costs (1,366%), clothing (819%), and food (561%). Even after accounting for inflation (the change in overall prices), the tax bill shot up 149.2% over the period.
And now taxes eat up more income than any other single family expense.
So why should Canadians care, aside from the fact that we work really hard to earn an income, and pay these taxes?
With more money going to the government, families have less to spend on things of their own choosing, whether it’s a new car, technological gadget, or family vacation. They also have less money available to save for retirement and their children’s education, or to pay down household debt.
While there’s no doubt that taxes help fund important government services, the issue is the amount of taxes that governments use compared to what we get in return.
To make an informed assessment, you must have a complete understanding of all the taxes you pay. Unfortunately, it’s not so straightforward because the different levels of government levy such a wide range of taxes—with many taxes buried in consumer prices and hard to discern.
Armed with this knowledge, we can hold our governments more accountable for the resources they extract and continue a public debate about the overall tax burden, the amount and scope of government spending, and whether we’re getting our money’s worth.
Otherwise, taxes will continue to increase.
So why is this important to us?
It is important because we understand that taxation is a necessity in order to have a healthy, wealthy, productive society for everyone, and in paying taxes there are circumstances which arise that make the system disadvantages to some Canadians.
Unlike our neighbours to the south who shoot elected officials for spending money, we are much more in control of our emotions (plus, no guns, eh?) so we need to hold them accountable in different ways, such as, not re-electing them. and going to public debates, and letting the officials that we elect know that they can no longer waste our money!
We can fix this.