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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Lower, simpler, flatter: The CTF approach to taxes

Majority of Canadians prefer "trip to the dentist" over preparing "income tax return by hand"

•       CTF opinion poll also finds taxpayers believe federal income taxes are too high and the tax system is too complicated and unfair

OTTAWA - The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) released results today of a public opinion poll in advance of Wednesday's midnight deadline for Canadians to file their 2007 income tax returns.  The survey was conducted by Praxicus Public Strategies Inc., among 1,000 Canadian adults 18 years-of-age and older.  The results are considered accurate to within +/-3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.  The results are available below or online: http://www.taxpayer.com/pdf/DentistPollResults2008.pdf

When taxpayers were asked "what would you prefer to do" a majority (52%) of those surveyed responded "take a trip to the dentist" and 42% said "complete your own income tax return by hand."  The remaining 6% "don't know/refused."

The CTF-commissioned public opinion survey also found:
• 65% of Canadians say federal personal income tax rates are somewhat too high (33%) or much too high (32%);
• 63% of Canadians believe the federal income tax system is too complicated; and
• 57% of Canadians deem the income tax system somewhat unfair (40%) or very unfair (17%).

"This poll indicates Canadians understand the tax code is too complicated, and the system unfair.  They also realize income taxes are too high, indeed Canada has the highest personal income tax burden of any G-7 nation, more than even the French and Italians," said CTF federal director John Williamson.  "Even when taxes are cut, governments can impose other kinds of burdens.  The Conservatives, for example, enacted a series of boutique tax cuts in the 2006 and 2007 budgets.  These changes eased the income tax burden for some, but they require taxpayers to tick the appropriate box on the tax form and collect receipts.  Failure to do either means paying more tax, hence the need for professional help and additional tax bureaucrats, not to mention a super-size shoebox for all the paperwork."

Williamson concluded, "The purpose of paying taxes is to fund government programs, not support an army of tax collectors.  Canadians are required by law to pay taxes.  This obligation should not require citizens to pay a professional to determine how much is owed to the taxman.  The Conservative government should reform the tax code and move to two federal income tax rates of 15% and 25% as a way to make the system fairer and less complicated.  The system should be lower, simpler and flatter."

Posted by Matthew Johnston on April 29, 2008 | Permalink


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(1) A survey that asks whether you prefer a trip to the dentist or preparing income tax return by hand sounds more like a joke than a serious survey. It's the kind of question that is more plausible the basis for a bit Jay Leno would use than as a serious question about tax policy. So any results are hard to take seriously as meaning anything.

(2) It's a very dated reference. To people over 40, memories of the visit to the dentist and all the pain it seemed to inevitably involve might be the basis for their response, but the quality of dental care is much higher now. In short, if it hurts, your dentist sucks. And for people used to having check-ups where no work is required, the dentist trip is even easier.

(3) If Andrea Mrozek can complain about the term "Status of Women" because it does not represent all women's views ( http://westernstandard.blogs.com/shotgun/2008/04/status-of-women.html ), can I object to the "Canadian Taxpayers Federation" using that name because they not only don't represent my views, they only represent the views of a small number of Canadian taxpayers? Just asking.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-04-29 10:49:57 AM

Tax me, I'm Canadian.

- President Fact Check.

Posted by: set you free | 2008-04-29 11:02:49 AM

A flat tax on earned income without deductions regardless of the income while exempting people below a certain income would be the fairest and simplest way to go. Of course this would produce a lot of screaming from lawyers and accountants along with the hoards of personnel at Revenue Canada. However it is not likely to get off the ground, as it represents common sense.

For people like FC they would be free of course to write an extra cheque for the government, since they want to pay more.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-04-29 11:13:17 AM


The 10% flat tax seems to have been working just fine in Alberta that past half-dozen years.

There's a generous exemption to protect the lower-income earner based on cost of living for basic necessities and it's 10% above that.

Anybody who moves here would have the benefit of keeping more of their hard-earned money.

Posted by: set you free | 2008-04-29 11:16:44 AM


How much did you make?...........X
Send it in.......................X

Posted by: tomax7 | 2008-04-29 3:21:24 PM

I could live with a flat tax so long as it starts at about $99,999.99.

Posted by: dewp | 2008-04-29 4:20:40 PM

Really, an alternative is simply a very graded form of sales tax. Actually that's sort of what most taxes were before WWI. That way you encourage saving, discourage over-spending (by credit) and it's clean and simple. You take home everything you earn, but GST is anywhere from 20% to 200%, depending on the item, and your status.

So get rid of all these ridiculous income taxes, and move to a far more equitable GST system. As it is now, GST and PST are a disproportionate tax on the working poor. Stuff income tax, it's unfair, a pain in the @$$, and sales taxes are also a sure way that government gets its revenue!

Posted by: bcf | 2008-04-29 6:02:09 PM

The Fraser Institute published findings that the average income earner in Canada pays out about 45% of income in taxes of all kinds.
So of course you would rather go to the dentist. Even in the bad old days your dentist would balk at pulling 45% of your teeth. Its a joke. I hate it when I have to explain those.

Posted by: DML | 2008-04-29 11:37:04 PM

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