Chances are, if you’re a baby boomer, you’ll remember your first camera. Twelve shots, point and shoot, black and white.
For kids, taxes seemed just as simple: maybe five cents on the dollar, depending on where you lived.
But as we get older, we realize life is more than black and white, good and bad. And we begin to understand the importance of taxes to pay for our education, our health care and so much more.
In Canada and most countries, some taxes are calculated on the ability to pay. Our income tax system in particular provides a sliding scale, based on our level of income as well as our responsibilities in caring for family members.
Is it a perfect system?
Are there inequities?
Are there loopholes?
Today’s federal government has identified some issues that work against equality and fairness, it says. Officials say some of our highly paid professionals are using currently legal ways to shield some of their income from taxes – and some of them may actually pay less than someone who’s earning hourly wages, with taxes deducted by the employer. Not surprisingly, some of our well-paid professionals are speaking out against any changes.
So are some business owners and farmers. They raised many issues during meetings last month in Lethbridge and Picture Butte. Some of those concerns, no doubt, are very legitimate.
Our governments should not put barriers in the way of farm or business owners who want to pass it on to the next generation.
Nor should they impose taxes that would put owners’ plans to invest or expand in financial jeopardy.
When the government remains silent or slow to respond to these concerns, it’s difficult for the average Canadian to understand its intent.
When the nation’s opposition MPs are the only ones out there talking to the voters, how do we know what to believe?
Many weeks after announcing plans for tax reform, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is trying to assure Canadians that they won’t stifle economic growth. He’s heard the feedback, he says, and agrees with some of it.Now, he says, his government is looking at balancing the need to make the tax system more fair, without hurting investment.
“We need to make sure we are encouraging entrepreneurs,” he said, and “encouraging success in the start ups.”
Why weren’t the PM and his cabinet ministers saying that back in July, when tax reform proposals were launched?
Why the failure in communication? Is the PM really paying attention to other people’s views, or just offering platitudes while his officials fine-tune a package of tax hikes?
Greater fairness in taxation, fully explained, could be a positive step for Canada. Is that what we’ll really be getting?
Taxation – and almost everything else – is far from a black-and-white part of life.
But it’s difficult if not impossible to get the full picture when so many of us are left in the dark.