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B.C. Tax Rates A Win For Canuck Fans

11/17/2014 03:12 EST | Updated 01/17/2015 05:59 EST
AP
A Vancouver Canucks fan cheers at the start of Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins, Saturday, June 4, 2011, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Vancouver Canuck fans are used to remembering and resenting all of the bad breaks our beloved franchise has endured. It started with losing Gilbert Perreault to the Buffalo Sabres. Joel Otto's kick-in in 1989. Nathan Lafayette's goal post in 1994. Being tortured by Byfuglien and the Blackhawks before barely slaying the dragon. Brad Marchand punching Daniel Sedin. Heck, Brad Marchand ever being born. John Tortorella.

It's tough to be a Canuck fan.

Last summer, fan favorite Ryan Kesler demanded a trade to division rival Anaheim. Fortunately, the trade has turned out all right. Nick Bonino and Luca Sbisa have been better than advertised, and the team is fun to watch again.

Kesler returns to Rogers Arena for the first time this week (Nov. 20) It's suspected he will be lustily booed by the Canucks faithful.

If it's any consolation, Canuck fans, it cost Kesler a lot of money to go to Anaheim -- $430,265 this year, to be exact. That's how much more RK17 will have to pay in income taxes for the pleasure of skating behind Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in the dreaded Mighty Duck flying V.

The Kesler calculation is just one of the findings of Home Ice Tax Disadvantage, a report examining the personal income tax implications of playing in each NHL city, jointly-released this week by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and Americans for Tax Reform.

The report found that every new Canuck saved income tax by coming to Vancouver: Sbisa saved $203,465 compared to in Anaheim. Ryan Miller saved (he's done a lot of saving lately) $169,656 in taxes compared to St. Louis. Derek Dorsett saved $82,299 moving from the New York Rangers. Bonino saved $26,915 coming from the Ducks, and Radim Vrbata saved $14,342 compared to his old home in Arizona.

It's not like the Canucks aren't paying their fair share. Of the $65.7 million paid to the players last year, $29.4 million went to the federal and provincial governments in income tax -- 44.8 per cent.

This revenue -- which doesn't include corporate taxes, property taxes, sales tax or a myriad of other taxes B.C. residents are charged -- pays for things that benefit people far outside the Canuck dressing room. The Canuck players' income tax bill alone covers roughly the cost of 600 young teachers - or 425 Vancouver police officers.

The study also found that 57 per cent of NHL free agents who moved to new teams, went to cities with better tax rates. Surely it's no coincidence that all five new Canucks will pay less in taxes than if they had stayed with their old teams.

Taxes matter in a day and age where highly-skilled professionals can easily move from city-to-city. If hockey players include tax rates as part of their calculations on where to play, you better believe doctors, engineers, CEOs, and other highly paid professionals do as well.

So what about the rest of us? Does this matter for those of us who don't make hundreds of thousands of dollars playing 15 minutes a night for Willie Desjardins, running big conglomerates, or "managing" TransLink or BC Ferries?

Don't we want highly skilled surgeons in our hospitals, giving us tremendous care? Don't we want brilliant engineers designing things here? Or companies, led by talented CEOs, employing hundreds of people?

The B.C. government actually raised income taxes on high income earners by two percentage points for 2014 and 2015 -- and only the expiry of the Bush-era tax cuts in the U.S. kept us competitive. Finance Minister Michael de Jong should keep his promise and announce the end of this tax hike in February's budget.

Let's not take away one good bounce Vancouver Canuck fans are getting.

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