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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Canada’s tax system: a monstrous maze that needs to be simplified


Do you have a whimsical accountant? If not here’s a new product just for you! But if you do, you probably need one. You shouldn’t.

I don’t just want to say an accountant. But without it, your taxes are incredibly difficult. I mean one is indifferent. Because your taxes are incredibly difficult to pay even with one. So meet “George”, the fictional protagonist of Neil Winokur’s book “The Grampy Accountant” and one written by him.

George and Winokur want to keep themselves out of business. And here, surprisingly often, Canadians may need to be made aware that they are being abused. In this case, since the tax system they allow is part of the price we pay for living in a world-class country, it is actually a scandal.

Like the long waiting list for medical procedures, the length of the tax code, the complexity and instability of its rules, the huge budget of the Canadian Revenue Service and its aggressive and vague procedures and the need to file tax returns are all unnecessary concerns, governance failures, and social contract violations.

Wait a minute, you’re crying. Need to file a tax return? Didn’t Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. say that “we pay taxes for a civilized society”? Are you a kind of knot libertarian?

Okay, maybe not all of you cried Holmes. But yes, he did, in 1927. Yes, they are. And no, I’m not the one who thinks taxes or the government are unnecessary. But the need to pay taxes is not the same as the need to pay exorbitant taxes in a system that is so horrible that it will inspire jealousy towards the rack. And as Winokur noted, there are plenty of civilized countries where most people do not file tax returns.

Not really. Their employers simply file a local equivalent of T4 that tells the government what they have earned, so it applies at a reasonable rate. Here you are penalized for not submitting a T4 already. Thing make the thing a little more joking, Willia? Where as in a foreign locality like England 90 per cent of the taxpayer does not have to file a return. In Sweden, 74 percent. And it takes an average of five minutes to make a file in Estonia.

Canadians are a little more accustomed to behaving like dirt under the feet of government. If you try to call the Canada Revenue Agency you may not get it but get a strict automatic warning if you somehow wait for 90 minutes and finally get an agent you will not feel ungrateful. And don’t be rude because they’ll hang on, and because I’m actually sorry for CRA agents that they treat scared, frustrated people all day. But why should we? And for so long?

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Some Canadians are actually lucky to get a tax “refund”, as if the government has finally favored us by returning the principal in an unintentional, interest-free way. Even if the CRA thinks you owe them money, huh huh in the end, interest-free, and polite.

Then there are all those tax credits. Politicians love them, one of whom was a notorious Libertarian who was not a libertarian, Stephen Harper, because they let you be a “micro target” voter. Which is not the purpose of the tax system and has not worked in its case. But I disagree.

No. I do not. As an ugly commentator, I want all sorts of changes in Canada’s system of governance, with conservative parties criticizing conservatives on big issues like climate and Ethiopia. But if these things are too much to ask, can we at least simplify the tax system? Is it so controversial?

There is no principled argument for this being a complete maze by bureaucratic minutiae. People hate it. Even accountants, Canada is a huge and lucrative industry, because both the maze and the minotaur hate it. Economists hate it. And if the way politicians love it, well, hate them too. Especially since this is not a new problem.

Due to Winokur’s frustration, our tax system has not undergone a fundamental re-examination since Leafs last won the cup. But it doesn’t sit still. GST has been added, angering the public who prefer less efficient less visible taxes. But the initial exemption from being an unpaid tax collector for small businesses was $ 30k in 1991 and today … still is. Should it? Logical? Open to debate?

Our tax code is about pages, 000 pages long, prone to reshaping more than a million words. Yet neither side is willing to lower it to 30,000, rationalize social assistance, or avoid the fear and hatred of most salaried Canadians accountants, tax-filing software, and every April 30th.

If they do it with us, and we let them go, at least give up the pretense that we want even better government. And get upset.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the author and The Epoch Times.


John Robson is a documentary filmmaker, National Post columnist, contributing editor to the Dorchester Review, commentator for Ottawa News Talk Radio 580 CFRA, and executive director of Climate Discussion Nexus. His most recent documentary is “The Environment: A True Story.”


This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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