New fronts opened up in the taxpayer advance
(First in a five-part series)

Ottawa - Friday, May 9, 2003 - by: Walter Robinson, Federal Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation


Members of the self-appointed media punditocracy have recently mused that taxpayer-friendly public policy ideas are in decline. Many contend that big government is back, mega projects are in vogue and the nanny state is once again marching forward.




While it is true that governments are ratcheting up spending in all areas — indeed, a worrying development — reports of the death of taxpayer-friendly public policy prescriptions are premature. On the contrary, the mantra of balanced budgets, debt reduction, tax relief to create jobs, and alternate service delivery of public services have now become accepted fiscal policy across the political spectrum … things that politicians passionately argued against a mere decade ago.




Of course more work needs to be done on these files with all orders of government, and this battle will continue to be fought and led by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. While state-interventionists continue to promote their tired solutions to the nation’s woes such as re-nationalization of our airlines, national day care schemes, free post-secondary tuition and on they go, these largely remain pipe dreams.




Meanwhile, the battle for taxpayer emancipation is being waged on other important fronts. Next week the Canadian Taxpayers Federation will launch its 5th annual Gas Tax Honesty Campaign and propose a new model — the Municipal Roadway Trust — for re-allocating federal gas tax revenues back to Canada’s municipalities to fund roadway improvements. (This will be fully covered in the May 16th Let’s Talk Taxes).




Keeping the cities debate in focus, a taxpayer rebellion is brewing on the ground from coast to coast as Canadians look for an alternative to assessment driven property tax systems. Arbitrary valuations of properties in a hot housing market have sent property tax bills soaring and on top of this, cities continue to hike their mill (read: tax) rates. Property taxes do not reflect an individual’s ability to pay or one’s consumption of local services. (Alternatives will be forwarded in the May 23rd Let’s Talk Taxes).



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While the Canadian Taxpayers Federation continues to gnaw away at wasteful government programs like corporate welfare and regional subsidy schemes, even the abolition of such schemes will not dramatically shrink the size or scope of government and will merely marginally reduce the tax burden.




A massive reformation of entitlement programs can no longer be left out if we are to have an encompassing and intellectually honest debate about wholesale tax and expenditure reduction. We’ve nibbled around the edges when it comes to discussing alternative funding models for health care and public pensions. But we must walk further, much further down this road. (Entitlement program reform — Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan and health care — is the subject of the May 30th Let’s Talk Taxes).




Finally, a great deal of work remains to reduce the federal personal income tax burden. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is poised to launch a national campaign to convince — as it did with Bracket Creep — the federal government to hike the Basic Personal Exemption from its present paltry level of $7,756 to a fairer $15,000 amount in five years or less.



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Raising the Basic Personal Exemption to $15,000 (with the spousal exemption) would remove 2.1 million lower-income Canadians from the tax rolls and equally benefit the remaining 13.9 million Canadian taxpayers. It is the perfect blend of good fiscal policy and great social policy. With Ottawa poised to rake in $70 billion in surpluses, it will be difficulty to deny the chorus of cries for a hike to the Basic Personal Exemption. (More on this effort in Let’s Talk Taxes, June 6th).

Walter Robinson
Federal Director



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