Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Comment to CBC's SHIFT

On Tax Freedom Day

Over the last few days, the CBC has celebrated the Fraser Institute's "Tax Freedom Day."

I admit the name is catchy, but it disguises some real facts. How about instead we call it "Freedom from Firefighters Day," or "Road Repair Free Day," or "Freedom from Literacy Day." These are the services and programs that are provided through our taxes. Taxes pay for the investments we collectively make as Canadians. (Whether we invest wisely or not is a separate question.)

To see this point another way, why don't we create "Food Freedom Day" which would be the last day in the year that the typical Canadian family stops devoting it's hard-earned dollars toward food consumption (to spend on rides at the fair perhaps)?

I am not trying to argue that taxes should go up, down, or sideways, but I do feel it is important that we work to remove loaded language when it comes to taxes. If we do not, then we pave the way for successive governments come in and indiscriminately cut taxes, generally for those at the upper end of the income distribution, market it to us as a good thing (e.g., "tax relief"), and then have us each individually pay a greater amount for services. Our taxes fall, we pay an even greater amount to live, we thank our governments for the "relief," and we stare in wonder at our empty pocketbooks.

Then again, maybe we've already started down that road.

According to the Fraser Institute, New Brunswick is the second province in Canada to "arrive" at Tax Freedom Day - a few days behind Alberta. If I am wrong in my above analysis, then the NB government will conclude that while we may want to fiddle with taxes a bit, we do not need wholesale tax reform as proposed in their "Green Paper." However, if the real goal is just lower taxes (for lower taxes sake), then they will permit us a few weeks of "public input and consultation" and they will likely implement the middle-of-the-road ideas. We'll see.

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