I recently came across a great article written by Tom Syer from the British Columbia Business Council. I think anyone from the Vancouver – Point Grey riding should take a look at this. Tom noted that recently, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) released a study entitled “Progressive Tax Options for BC”. For the record, I believe an independent body like CCPA that challenges government to be transparent and provides well thought out options to be tabled is a positive force in a democracy. People who genuinely care about some of our more complex issues have every right to step up and suggest alternatives. Of course there will be disagreements but through dialog, we can find common ground.
I write this blog post though to find out if others feel this is really in the best interests of British Columbians. Without going into a lot of detail, the study claims we have desire amongst British Columbians to pay more tax. It also advocates that the 6% who have incomes higher than $100,000 a year per family should be paying more tax in an escalating manner. This is coupled with a second need and desire to redistribute the wealth to address inequality. For those of us who live in Vancouver – Point Grey, we are in that demographic.
“The basic premise of the study is that there is both a serious need and a significant desire among BC citizens for sizable tax increases to fund more services and re-distribute wealth to address inequality. In their words, BC has “plenty of room” to raise taxes. While this has been a common refrain from the CCPA for some time, this position is now backed with further research and the results of an on-line survey. While the CCPA cites a single relatively obscure US study comparing US state taxation levels on economic performance to buttress its position, there is in fact an extensive body of academic research that looks carefully at the long-term consequences of taxes on the economy. The preponderant conclusion is that relatively open, trade oriented economies need to pay attention to taxation rates and burdens. This is not to say there is no room to debate taxation issues or the appropriate balance between state and private sector in society. However, particularly for a small jurisdiction like BC, it’s important to ponder the economic implications of major tax policy changes – such as sharply hiking marginal tax rates on entrepreneurs and highly skilled workers, which is the key recommendation advanced in the CCPA’s study.”
I urge you to read the rest of his post here. Tom has wisely called out some misrepresentations and also discusses some of the consequences.
I also looked at the CCPA document to verify the facts. While reading the document, I found this.
“The overwhelming majority of British Columbians (90%) think there should be income tax increases for those at the top. A clear majority (57%) believe that should kick in at $100,000 per year of income. A majority (67%) also think major corporations are asked to pay less tax than they should.
These responses cut across party lines. It is not just those who would vote NDP or Green in a provincial election who think high-income individuals and corporations should pay more tax.
The idea to impose stiff taxes on those of us who own homes that are valued at over a certain amount is something I am also concerned about. A socialist group or socialist political party wanting to impose “an annual property surtax, progressively applied, beginning with a 0.5% tax rate on values in excess of $750,000, then 1% on value above $1.25 million, and 1.5% on value in excess of $2
million” might be something Point Grey and Kitsilano residents should have a say in. Our real estate has jumped in value due to a number of factors beyond our control. In many cases the houses in this area are no larger than houses anywhere else.
CCPA author Naomi Klein wrote at the bottom of her introduction “British Columbians deserve a thoughtful and open conversation about the need for tax reform,” says Klein. “They core questions we need to consider are: What programs should we pay for together through taxes, and how can we raise the money needed in a way that ensures everyone pays a fair share? We hope this report can help kick-start that conversation.”
For the record, Naomi Klein is someone I respect for being a vigilant watchdog on government policy. According to the Sunday Times, she has stated she supports the moderately leftish NDP in her home country and does not rule out standing for election one day.
I agree with one statement Naomi made. I think it is time to have a bigger conversation about a fair and equitable tax system that does not unjustly hurt British Columbians, including being fair to those who have worked hard to build businesses here and/or have disciplined themselves to achieve higher education and higher income. People in Vancouver – Point Grey are in many cases upper middle class working families.
I stand for transparency in government and accountability. I invite your opinions on this topic.