A think tank is defending its arithmetic after claiming all taxes cost families – even charges that “indisputably” do not, say members of the Commons finance committee.
The Fraser Institute, in a report it described as a revelation, concluded the tax burden on individuals has risen 1,787 percent since 1961.
“These are taxes that people pay,” said Charles Lammam, co-author of the report Taxes Versus The Necessities of Life.
The report concluded an “average Canadian family” pays 43 percent of its income in taxes to municipal, provincial and federal governments.
However, Lammam acknowledged the figures include all revenues collected by all governments, including fees that corporations pay to use public resources and utilities.
“It’s pretty clear that people pay taxes,” said Lammam. “A corporation is a piece of paper; it’s made up of individuals.”
The Fraser Institute calculation includes royalties for drilling publicly-owned oil, stumpage rates for cutting trees on public timberlands, broadcast license fees for using public airwaves, patent filing fees, pilotage tariffs on foreign shipowners, commercial waste disposal charges and other taxes that governments count as revenue for public benefit.
“It would be more responsible if they did not include taxes like natural resource royalties,” said MP James Rajotte, chair of the Commons finance committee.
“Royalties for Alberta oil indisputably help families in Alberta,” said Rajotte, Conservative MP for Edmonton-Leduc; “If you’re going to calculate taxes on the average family, you have to look at what families actually pay. An excise tax on a litre of gas that’s collected at the pump is distinct from a royalty on oil.”
In a news release, the Fraser Institute reported its “Canadian Consumer Tax Index tracks the total tax bill of the average Canadian family.”
MP Peggy Nash, vice-chair of the finance committee, noted the index included a 15 percent income tax on Canada’s largest corporations.
“If you’re going to have a discussion about tax policy, you really have to separate out income taxes, sales taxes and corporate rates,” said Nash, New Democrat MP for Parkdale-High Park, Ont. “I haven’t always agreed with the methodology used by the Fraser Institute.”