Editorial — The taxes we pay

A Fraser Institute study was released Tuesday, showing the share of Canadians’ income going towards governments at all levels has risen from 33.5 per cent in 1961 to 41.8 per cent in 2013.

It’s important to put the study into context. The Fraser Institute is a think tank which believes in smaller government, and has steadfastly engaged in many studies over the years to debunk “big government.” Some of those studies have been quite useful, others not so much.

The institute also participates in the worldwide “Tax Freedom Day” event, which marks the day when people begin to work for themselves each year, as opposed to the taxman. This year, the date in Canada was June 9.

All that said, there is no question that some of the money paid in taxes is not well-spent. While abuses by politicians like Alison Redford or Mike Duffy get the headlines, there are many programs in government of limited or almost no use. One B.C. example is the carbon tax rebate to large corporations, paid by school districts and hospitals with tax dollars.

However, as the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (the polar opposite to the Fraser Institute) notes, it’s very difficult to compare 1961 to 2014. Governments provide medicare now — there was little spending on health care in 1961. That’s where a lot of tax dollars go.

There are also many more government programs that redistribute funds to lower-income Canadians, including the GST credit and the carbon tax credit in B.C.

Governments certainly have room to cut. A focus on how much taxes we pay as a percentage of income is useful, because taxpayers need to consider whether we get full value for the money we spend each year.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

Housing money reinstated by Victoria council
Police await autopsy results of suspicious death investigation
Concerns about imported fill flow at gravel pit meeting
Scratching for information
Tour de Rock community party a hairy affair in Port Alberni
Alberni waives Glenwood rental fee for Remembrance Day
Spill could kill tourism, shellfish, say Parksville protesters
Home economics classes prepare feast for students
Candidates form debate in forum