Shouldn’t You Be Dead If You’re Taxed To Death?

With the Toronto Star’s Tess Kalinowski reporting over the weekend that the Anne Golden-led seriousdiscussionTransit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel will be recommending some sort of corporate tax as part of an overall funding plan to start building transit, I say, good. Can we now start seriously discussing our transit needs and how to pay from them? Can we? Huh? Please?

One of the sticking points so far, at least for some progressive voices on the left side of political spectrum, was the very conspicuous absence of ‘A Corporate Tax’ option in the funding columns of either the city’s Feeling Congested and Metrolinx’s discussions earlier this year on revenue streams. This was a non-starter for many who legitimately wondered why individuals alone were being asked to shoulder the cost of new transit projects that would also serve to help the needs of the business community. An oversight, let’s call it, made even more fishy since one of the biggest cheerleaders for a massive regional investment in transit infrastructure was the Toronto Board of Trade.

Hey everybody (but our members)! We’re in this together (except for our members). Dig into your pockets and pay for the transit we so desperately need!*cavedwelling

But now it’s there on the table, and for anyone using its previous lack of presence as an excuse not to talk or even so much as consider a discussion about taxation as a means to fund transit expansion, well, time to step out into the open. Your cover’s been blown. I commend you for putting corporate taxation back into the mix but it won’t pay for everything. Let’s start talking turkey.

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty yet as the panel’s recommendations don’t go public until Thursday but let’s just say that my hope is that this can kick start a wider discussion beyond just transit needs to reclaiming the idea of taxation from its current status as some filthy word spat out in disgust.

At last week’s budget committee deputations, retired teacher Don Quinlan referred to Toronto as ‘a rich city that doesn’t act like it.’ taxesareevilThat’s borne out by the fact residents of this city, on average, pay below the GTA average in property taxes. When given the opportunity to relieve pressure off the property tax base with other revenue streams, i.e. the Vehicle Registration Tax, we couldn’t elect a city council fast enough to repeal it. The Land Transfer Tax remains under constant threat.

For a generation now (at least), we’ve been trying to run a city on the cheap and then find ourselves surprised at the lack of good state of repair in almost every aspect of our infrastructure. Crumbling roads. Decrepit social housing. Bursting watermains. Substandard public transit. How did this happen, we ask ourselves, and immediately begin looking around for the easiest answers that won’t cost us anything. Lazy unions. Profligate spending. Inefficient bureaucracies.

To be fair, municipalities have been largely abandoned on many of these files by senior levels of government that operate, not at all coincidentally, on a similar Taxes Are Bad approach. Shit rolls downhill, leaving governments with the least amount of financial flexibility to deal with the ugly results. This has lead to a nasty zero sum race to the bottom with city councils facing tough either/or choices between vital services and programs. Public housing or public transit? Child care or after school programs?

The grim situation, however, only gets exacerbated when we mirror such anti-tax sentiment. freeClearly, many self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives believed our tax intolerance was not such that we’d mind an annual half percent property tax hike to pay for a Scarborough subway extension. So let’s keep that conversation going. What else is on our wish/to do list?

Enough already with the burden of taxation. At this point, we’re getting exactly what it is we’re willing to pay for. We either accept that and live with it without complaining or we start putting our money where our collective mouth is. Anything less than that is a shirking of our responsibility and just plain flat out freeloading.

— seriously submitted by Cityslikr


*excluding Board of Trade members

9 Responses to Shouldn’t You Be Dead If You’re Taxed To Death?

  1. hungry says:

    it’s the ‘gladly pay you Tuesday for a burger today’ syndrome. Except i’m still broke on Tuesday!!!

  2. Depends on your definition of “broke.”

    • steve says:

      I can’t afford a million dollar house in Etobicoke, Ford Escalade, a trip to the US when ever I need to blow off steam or all the drugs I can get my hands on. So I am broke

    • Simon Says says:

      If you are already living pay cheque to pay cheque and the government wants to take more of what you earn and you are broke already? Everyone thinks there is always more money to take from someone. Eventually someone has nothing.

      • steve says:

        The thing is we have been paying the same level of taxes for the past 30-40 years. What has changed is the cost of services provided, and the cost the private sectors put on us.

      • Simon Says says:

        There is thing called inflation. I am not sure if you’ve seen the price of dairy over the past two years. The private sector is to blame for everything. The cost of services from government go up because of wages and benefits. Public sector wages and benefits are out of line with private sector. The public sector enjoys job protection far greater than any industry I know.

        I think you forget to add in the additional burden of fees, levies, service charges that all levels of government have added to the financial burden of people.

      • steve says:

        Conservatives have had 30 years to prove their slash and burn, lower taxes, smaller government works. It hasn’t things have gotten worse yet they still push their policies and blame the liberals. It is their policies not the liberals that are in place.. Liberal have been towing the right of centre line since Jean Chrétien. Taxes have not kept up with inflation, the cost of government service have been affected by inflation of course they will cost more. Public sector wages and benefits which have been at the same level for many years has little effect to the cost of services. Lower employment and farming out to the private sector will raise the cost of government business, significantly. The private sectors goal is to make as much money as they can by providing the lowest and cheapest employment as possible. The government can and should be providing employment to Canadians, offering the best services. The government can and has in the past provided the best services at much lower costs then the private sector.
        All this is achieved through taxes. Take my taxes please,.

      • Simon Says says:

        Liberals have had more then enough time to “fix things”. Toronto has increased its spending and there isn’t much to show for it.

        If you want to pay more taxes, you are free to do so.

  3. Ron Wm. Hurlbut says:

    I long for Canadian “Protectionism” and despise the world of “Free-Trade” wherein we are collectively scared shitless of imposing any ‘Corporate Taxes’. Any Corporation is free to pull up stakes and move to a low tax, “Right to Work” haven. So tread carefully with ‘A Corporate Tax’ lest we get left high and dry.

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