What is fair?

Let’s start here.

A Canadian family earning an average income spends more money each year on taxes than on the basic necessities of life.

Does that seem fair?

Taxes from all levels of government make up the single largest expenditure facing Canadian families.

Does that seem fair?

The total tax bill has grown more rapidly than any other major item in an average family’s annual budget since 1961.

Does that seem fair?

From  Canadians For Tax Fairness:

The mission of Canadians for Tax Fairness is to build a national campaign to promote fair taxation. We support the development and implementation of a tax system, based on ability to pay, to fund the comprehensive, high-quality network of public services and programs required to meet our social, economic and environmental needs in the 21st century. Canadians for Tax Fairness will work together with other groups and individuals who share our goals.

What do they consider fair taxation? You can read their position in a document titled A Budget for the Rest of Us (pdf here) and it outlines what they consider to be fair and progressive taxation:

  • Increase tax rates on top incomes
  • Reverse the race to the bottom with corporate tax cuts
  • Eliminate unfair tax preferences, close tax loopholes and access to tax havens
  • Apply financial activities or transactions taxes
  • Introduce an inheritance tax on large estates
  • Start to introduce smart — and progressive — green taxes

I support many of the points raised in the document. There is a civil responsibility to support our country and to support our communities through taxation and charitable giving. I have no idea what is a “fair” rate, particularly for higher income earners, although the Laffer Curve outlines what might happen if tax rates are pushed too high or too low.

If fair taxation means that taxes become the single largest expenditure facing Canadian families then that does not strike me as fair — regardless of the ability to pay.

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