Wednesday, April 18, 2007

taxes, empty pockets, empty dreams

I heard on CBC today that residential property taxes in Vancouver are going to increase by 8% plus, while business property taxes will have a lesser increase than they expected.

I have always thought that res. prop. taxes were a "good deal" here, in comparison with other jurisdictions in which I have lived. It's a closing of the barn door after the horse has fled though. Vancouver has lost a lot of businesses through the onerous burden of those taxes. I can't help but wonder though, if it is just a légère de main to cover some of the Olympics costs. There is already a rumbling of discontent with the Olympics scam, and it is not confined to "left-wing nutters". It strangely comes just a couple of days after announcement of huge cost over-runs in the new convention centre construction. It seems to me that I heard that they had doubled? (I can't say for sure, because I am in and out of earshot of the radio all day)

Oh well, it's worth it. Vancouver the world. Maybe just a little bit more expensive.

And then this eye opener on taxes from the Astute Fraser Institute (well, once in a while) - link

The Canadian Consumer Tax Index tracks the total tax bill of
the average Canadian family from 1961 to 2006
• The total tax bill for the average Canadian family, including
all types of taxes, has increased by 1,590 percent since 1961
• In 1961, the average family had an income of $5,000 and paid
a total tax bill of $1,675 (33.5 percent). In 2006, the average
Canadian family earned an income of $63,001 and paid total
taxes equalling $28,311 (44.9 percent)
• Taxes have grown much more rapidly than any other single
expenditure for the average Canadian family. In contrast to
the jump in taxes, expenditures on shelter increased by 1,019
percent, food by 487 percent, and clothing by 447 percent
from 1961 to 2006
• The average Canadian family now spends more of its income
on taxes than it does on the basic necessities such as food,
shelter, and clothing. In 1961 the average family had to use
56.5 percent of its income on basic necessities (food, shelter and clothing), while only 33.5 percent of the family’s income went to taxes. In 2006, the proportion of income consumed by taxes had increased (44.9 percent), while the fraction of income spent on shelter, food, and clothing (35.6 percent) had dropped dramatically
(emboldening mine)

Add to all that the cost of real estate, and something's gonna happen.

I liked the title of this book, and the picture on the cover. I have not read it, but I thought it illustrative of living in Vancouver today.


patriotz said...

The Fraser Institute's numbers are completely bogus.

According to OECD, total tax revenue (all sources) in Canada is about 34% of GDP.

The FI gets its numbers by dividing total tax take by total employment income only, ignoring the fact that much of the tax burden falls on income to capital and foreign purchasers of Canadian exports (like oil).

Now why would they do that, hmm? To make Joe Wageearner think he's paying a lot more taxes than he really is, and to support their real agenda - cut the tax burden on income to capital and reduce services to wageearners.

The real reason the average person isn't getting anywhere is that the % of national income going to the rich has been steadily increasing.

patriotz said...

Oh and one more thing - if the FI actually cared about the economic welfare of the average person, they would be doing their level best to warn people about the perils of buying into this insane housing bubble.

They didn't do it in 1981 and they're not doing it today.

Arwen said...

Yah, I tend to take FI stats with a grain of cyanide, too, patriotz.

The comparisons between taxes paid and other goods also don't really seem relevant to me: food and clothing has gotten cheaper as we outsource to the third world and varies economies of scale and transit improvements happen; we're subsidizing (some) farmers with those taxes to help keep cost of food down, so there's a little hocus pocus of shifting cost from private pile to public pile that I'm not seeing controlled for. Also, we're buying IPods and computers and plasma screens that our parents and grandparents weren't. (Granted. Their stuff was better made. Less stuff, more value?) However, if we can imagine an economic pie, it's so radically changed that I don't think apples now are apples then in the larger economic picture of how the economy works.

Also, in terms of medical, we're paying more for a greater level of services, which is value added but carries a price on our taxes bang. The out-of-pocket medical expense in the States is pretty damn high, too, considering my grandmother paid her doctor with chicken to deliver her babies, and yet my cousin paid 2 grand after her HMO finished paying what it would ante up on her basic plan. (No C-Section, even.) So I'm not sure how you even value my grandmother's chicken: was it worth 2 grand adjusted for inflation?

I don't know how many chicken(s) per baby, either. However: house call - which means no food service or cleaning staff. Huh.

Ryan said...

Yeah, people whine about the spiraling costs of healthcare, but I don't hear anyone offering to not get an amputated finger reattached, or to forgo treatment for cancer.

solipsist said...

Thanks for posting.

I completely agree with the sentiments on the Fraser Institute. I dubbed them the Astute Fraser Institute as an open-ended, tongue-in-cheek bit of facetiousness.

I scanned the whole document, and remarked to myself that clothing and food had increased significantly less than taxes and housing. The thing about housing too, is that the "quality" of it has increased quite a bit, as everyone wants expensive finishings, accessories and appliances, etc. Granite and Veuve Clicquot all around!

The FI link was more a sequitur to the property tax thing - which was passed today, by (I believe) 5-4.

I don't believe the change is necessarily a bad thing - it is about $116 per annum on the average property (from what I heard). That's what? 8 bottles of cheap wine?

One of the commentators on CBC actually mentioned that Vancouver needs an economy. ie - small and medium businesses! A lot have packed it in because of those taxes.

Something else that I thought about this morning, is that we don't have large costs for snow removal and weather-related road repairs that other jurisdictions have, so the higher prop. taxes elswhere are more understandable(?).

aetakeo - I liked that line with the grain of cyanide.

Warren said...

I had a professor in university who used to get an article from the FI as well as the CCPA,which is their left wing equivilant, on the same issue when possible. Amazing how they can both come up with such different "statistics" for the same thing. That's the problem with media, and I think good blogs like this help that sort of crap. We know the answer is somewhere in the middle, but where?