"There are lies, damned lies and statistics" is the well-worn phrase, but nothing better sums up the recent Fraser Institute scare mongering about taxes being the single largest budget item of Canadian households -- as catchy as the headlines may be, it is alarmist spin. Such biased economic exercises raise a fundamental question: Just what indicators should we be using to keep score on Canada's economic performance?
They're coming first for your devilish Coca-Cola and Pepsi. But they aren't stopping there. They also want taxes on sugary fruit juice (you sinister Sun-Rype suckers!), and anything else that tastes slightly better than water. It won't end -- because big government types truly believe higher taxes can solve every problem -- there's no evidence it will work.
Albert Einstein once said, "The hardest thing in the world to understand is income taxes." -- you can rest assured that it is not a simple subject. Taxpayers are expected to understand it well enough to be able to make good decisions about our own financial situation. But if understanding basic income tax isn't enough of a headache, the taxes on investment earnings (such as in your RRSP) represent a whole new territory.
For the past few years, Canadians have been taking advantage of our dollar being worth about the same as the U.S. dollar. From buying up real estate to cross-border shopping, being on par with the U.S. dollar has had its advantages. However, in the last few months, economic factors have driven the Canadian dollar down. It may be time to regroup and look at some strategies to make the weakening dollar work for you.
Quality, universal childcare is good for kids and it's good for families. It is also good for the economy and the tax base as gainfully employed parents spend their pay cheques and pay taxes. And, access to affordable childcare helps reduce poverty and inequality, meaning that it's good for society.
The Conservative budget's failure to initiate a process of comprehensive tax reform is a missed opportunity to lift Canada's prospects for long-term prosperity and growth. Tax reform and simplification would improve Canada's international competitiveness, productivity and economic growth, from both a personal and corporate perspective.
The Liberal finance minister assumed that taxes were useful but indeed a loss -- not to government, but to the citizens who pay the tax. Taxes are necessary, but we must be judicious about the money sent to politicians and civil servants. That includes understanding the money first belongs to Canadians.
France's economy saw only a weak rebound after 2009 with real GDP growth rates of about two per cent in both 2010 and 2011 before slowing to a crawl with only 0.3 per cent growth in 2012. In comparison, Canada positively raced ahead, experiencing real GDP growth of 3.4, 3.0 and 1.9 per cent in 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively.
The CCF assisted a taxpayer named Irvin Leroux in getting a decision from the B.C. Supreme Court, holding that Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) owed him a duty of care and breached its duty towards him. This was a precedent-setting ruling: never before had the CRA been told by any court that it had a duty towards individual taxpayers to treat them with care, and not to be negligent towards them.
As Albertans approach another provincial budget, the usual fables about Alberta's finances often crop up. To inoculate ourselves in advance, let's ponder two myths. Myth number one: "Alberta's wealth is a result of luck." This tall tale assumes that the existence of natural resources automatically results in wealth creation, jobs, and a higher standard of living. That's hardly the case. Plenty of jurisdictions have little in the way of natural resources but prosper, while others have plentiful natural resources yet flounder. Let's investigate myth number two: "Alberta is undertaxed."
This just in: Both in France and in Quebec, the law of gravity holds! As does mathematical reality. Here as there, politicians are just now discovering a fact that some of us have been tirelessly repeating for years: Too much tax kills tax. In France, after having continually raised taxes, politicians are realizing that they have hit a wall.
Health associations have long been calling for a "fat tax"; taxes on foods that some nutritionists and researchers don't want us to eat or drink. Unfortunately, the lack of sound thinking behind vilifying sugary drinks or less healthful snacks has not changed, nor has the blunt, imprecise, and unfair nature of a "junk food" or "sugary drink" tax. Overly simplistic solutions to obesity that vilify an industry or food product are bad public policy. The reality is that "junk food" taxes or sugary drink taxes are ineffective instruments that fail to recognize the complex and manifold causes of obesity. It's time we put the idea of such taxes in their rightful place: the junk bin.
Fact is, Alberta's red-ink budgets have much more to do with real per-capita program spending being near historic highs. This also explains why so many Albertans "hiss" at the notion of a sales tax. To understand why the spending side of the government ledger deserves more attention, consider some statistics about Alberta's program spending, ones that take into account Alberta's population growth and inflation rate.
The idea of a fat or sugar tax in British Columbia continues to pop up like the pesky mole in that old midway game. Unfortunately, it's taxpayers -- and the provincial economy -- that would get whacked by such a tax. Supporters of such a flawed taxation policy should look to Denmark's experience for a textbook example of why it doesn't work.
For three years, my political party has veered in a direction I cannot follow. And if the GOP insists on framing the 2012 election as a ballot question on fiscal and monetary austerity, or if they nominate somebody manifestly incompetent to do the job of president, they're going to lose me -- and a lot more people.
Amid the attention given to the entertainment celebrities operating as outsiders, there is a need also to see how a different type of celebrity from the world of business -- Bill Gates -- is acting as an insider in the campaign of change with respect to financial institutions at the hub of global governance.