Have you noticed that every holiday season, the pressure builds as everyone rushes around buying too much stuff before the Big Day? Then our festive bubble bursts just after New Year's when they announce how much new debt everyone has incurred. And then just as suddenly, the talk turns to RSPs and taxes. The collective anxiety is enough to give everyone a massive ulcer.
The response to such tax facts is usually this cliché: "Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society," this from the American Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., in a 1927 case. Right, but as a percentage of the economy, government spending was much lower in 1927 compared to 2013. One cannot endlessly extrapolate that "taxes are good for you." Not any more than it is useful to overdose on pharmaceutical drugs just because one pill helps kill some pain. Or to propose that because one glass of wine has healthful effects, then a dozen drinks must be even better.
The link between health and income is solid and consistent -- almost every major health condition has worse outcomes among people who live at lower income. I will continue to advise my patients to exercise more and eat healthier food, but this tax season I will also spend time prescribing tax returns.