Taxation Shouldn’t Be A Dirty Word

In the lead up to today’s kick off of Budget 2014, here’s the headline to a Toronto Star article: Toronto budget committee braces for tax-hike debate.texaschainsawmassacre

So in many ways, despite being turfed from most of his mayoral responsibilities last week, Rob Ford has established the terms by which we’re going to go about discussing the city’s budget priorities.

It’s all about the taxes, folks.

Which shouldn’t be all that surprising or abnormal. Taxation is how we pay for the kind of city we want to live in. But it’s the de-contextualization that’s disconcerting. As if it’s only about how much we the taxpayers are handing over and nothing about what we’re getting in return.

We all know that .5% of any property tax increase we see for next year is going toward the building of the Scarborough subway extension of the Bloor-Danforth line. taxesThat’s tangible even if disagreeable to many of us. It’s a direct cause and effect.

After that, it’s all presented as just some random number, picked out of thin air. The mayor wants nothing more than an additional 1.25% for no other apparent reason than to go into next year’s municipal election campaign claiming this year’s increase was less than 2% total, lower than any other city in the known universe, he’ll likely claim, as if a place’s worth can only be measured by how small a tax bill its residents receive. Others, including the budget chief, think staff will be asking for a 2.5% tax increase in total, a reasonable number by any other measure aside from the Fordian scale of All Taxes Are Bad (But Some Are Worse Than Others).

In reality taxes aren’t just money we hand over and receive nothing in return. accoutantThey serve as a marker for the transaction made between residents and the city for services that are provided to them. This time around, let’s talk about those first, shall we, the services we receive. The things we think are important to making Toronto somewhere people want to live rather than a place we wind up in and reluctantly are a part of.

What is it we’re willing to pay for rather than how much we’re willing to pay should be the starting point for any budget conversation. (Yes, yes. As hard as it is to believe that point has to made, it’s proof of the degree to which tax haters have infected our civic discourse). Today’s as good a day as any to begin having that conversation.

hopefully submitted by Cityslikr

9 thoughts on “Taxation Shouldn’t Be A Dirty Word

  1. I’m very angry about that Scarbway Tax. I’d happily pay half a percent towards all transit: Just not THAT money pit project. The rest, as they say is gravy, and I love gravy.

    • Ford picked a math teacher to chair the budget which then had to include 0.5% above Ford’s 1.75% for Scarbway. For some reason the proposed increase in property taxes is 2.5%?

      Not to mention Ford broke his promise to eliminate the LTT after 4 budgets because he needs those revenues to spend…and balance the budget which had a opening pressure of $200 million

  2. The good people of Walkerton voted for cheap and nasty, and cheap and nasty is what they got. For some reason they were surprised – such people always believe the cheap and nasty will be visited upon welfare mothers or homeless people or anyone except themselves.

    These days a lot of suburbs types think the only services that should be paid for is snow and garbage removal on their particular street. But if any emergency happens, to them of course, then suddenly the rules change. Nursey must come running to their rescue. Often the emergency is flooding.

  3. $60 (average) increase for someone on a low or fixed income may not seem like a lot to everyone who is still working. But add in the increases to hydro, water rates and the cost of food, the $60 is added to an ever increasing amount of costs that most families can’t afford to add to their budgets.

    • Dear Mr. Says,

      We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke agree with you. The proposed $64 (average) property tax increase will be a burden for some households.

      So tell us, where would you start cutting in terms of city services and programs in order to save everyone that $64? Please, be specific. No generalities or slogans. Where would you make up the lost revenue?

      • The company I work for has not given a raise for the past three years (0%) and there are many more people who work in the city that have not seen their pay keep pace with inflation and cost of living.

        It would be good to start with having ALL city workers (not just non-union) have a pay freeze (0%) for the next year or two. That would more than cover the $64 short fall. This is not a anti-union or anti-city worker rant, but the reality is people are being getting paid less or not keeping up with all the other costs being added onto everyone’s budget.

        Leaf pick up in Etobicoke is nice, but not a necessity. City of Toronto Revenue Services have not stepped into the 21st century. It is still a paper system and access by phone only. Revenue collection and building permits can be contracted out much like the auto licensing has been done by the province.

        Not everyone is on the ever growing Sunshine List.

      • For the record, the sunshine list has not been adjusted to inflation. That would shorten the list.

        (No I’m not on the list)

        Secondly, don’t try and hold anyones pay rate. Everyone needs to fight for better than a living wage plus pension and benefits.

        Don’t hold others back, push forward!

      • PS: Went through our family budget, to save an extra $5 a month, we would have to trim it from either groceries or saving for retirement. And groceries is a no-go with three kids. So from saving for retirement it comes, and trimming the $5 a month from an RRSP has quite the impact 15 years down the road. Something to think about for those without a Defined Benefit pension or no pension to speak of.

  4. Taxation and growing income inequality are a global issue. We have to look at the tax cuts to corporations and all the loopholes that the wealthy are able to take advantage of as an erosion of the tax base. At the same time, wages are not keeping pace with inflation. The social safety net suffers and it is up to everyone else to maintain what is left with spit and lint. Workers have to organize and fight for higher wages. Then we’ll be able to pay more tax and have a strong society. Raising the Land Transfer Tax would be a good start.

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