by Joel Ceausu
Did you feel it?
It happened last weekend, Friday at midnight to be precise, an oh-so-small disturbance in the natural order of things here in La Belle Province. Earthquake? Nope. Sun flare? Nah. The trembling of thousands of young feet marching through the streets to protest the cheapest tuition on the continent? Uhhh nyet.
June 14, if you didn’t know, was Tax Freedom Day in Quebec, the day we Canadians residing here stop working for the federal, provincial and municipal governments and start paying…ourselves.
In this regard, Quebec’s distinctness is tangible: Our holiday begins 22 days after Alberta’s, according to the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute, and is only out-waited by Newfoundland at the bottom of the list.
Tax Freedom for the average Canadian family comes on June 9, a day longer than last year because total taxes increased faster than total income.
Think about that: If you had to pay all your taxes up front, you’d give government every cent you earned before last weekend.
“It’s nearly impossible for Canadian families to know all the taxes they pay because governments levy such a wide range of taxes,” says Fraser’s economic policy analyst Charles Lammam. “These include income taxes, payroll taxes, health taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, fuel taxes, vehicle taxes, profit taxes, import taxes, ‘sin’ taxes on liquor and tobacco, and more.”
After accounting for all categories, says the report, the average Canadian family will pay $43,435 in taxes this year, or 43.5 per cent of their annual income. That’s a $1,355 increase thanks to rising income ($589), payroll and health ($364), sales ($191) and property ($47) taxes. No category decreased between 2013 and 2014, and the report explains how the burden is further compounded by deferred taxes, essentially the deficits accumulated by over spending governments.
Part of the explanation can also be found in the think-tank’s other report – on subsidies. That pegs the total amount across Canada from all levels of government from 1981 to 2009 at $684-billion, mainly to private corporations.
Quebec also distinguished itself here, with the highest level of subsidies – $115.5 billion than any other province, based on data from Statistics Canada.
High subsidies in some provinces are partly a result of reducing electricity and power bills for consumers, but in Quebec according the report, handouts have increased almost yearly with few exceptions, and “there is no indication that the subsidies were for consumers, but instead were directed towards business. Simply put, Quebec spends a significant amount on subsidies to private and government business.”