Sunday, April 19, 2009

Taxing times

I'm back. Its been several weeks, I visited the Inlaws for the "holidays" - not really much of a holiday. During that time though, my computer was in the shop - caught a virus, even with Norton 360. The computer is still not right, but it works.

I'll be pretty busy for the next 11 days or so. I've procrastinated long enough and its time to send off my income tax return, five actually, since I do my family's returns as well. I can't tell you how much I resent spending so much time collecting, collating, organizing, entering, researching and sending off these damned income tax returns. I even use "QuickTax" to NetFile, easy as pie, you'd think. Sure I also resent the myriad government programs that continue to waste our tax money defending Afghans, bailing out zombie car companies, and funding all the boondoggles of every special interest group in this country. I might feel better if I thought our government had spending under control. But Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party are continuing with their program of bigger government. In the October election campaign they promised spending increases of $92 billion: literally double even the massive increases promised by the Liberals and the NDP (National Post estimates during the campaign). They delivered on these spending promises, one of the few promises kept, and the extra spending has wasted away the large surplus' inherited from the previous Liberal government. This left Canada facing a deficit even before the current recession. Now Mr. Harper will follow the Americans and "stimulate" with money he no longer has to drive us into a larger and longer term deficit. Fortunately the Harper Conservatives have only been in power a short time, or our economic situation would have been much worse.

So yes I resent the size of government and the waste that I know is ongoing, but I also resent the complexity of the tax form. Why are taxes so complicated?

Income Tax began in Canada in 1917 as a temporary measure to repay the debts incurred during the First World War. Those debts were large and the tax was kept in place after the war, growing and becoming more complex each year. Special interest groups came to Ottawa and lobbied for exemptions and deferrals. Politicians made promises, governments grew larger taking on more responsibility and leaving people with fewer choices and less money to spend. Instead of protecting us from force or fraud the government loots each and every income producing Canadian reducing their discretionary income and freedom. Instead of being a protector government forces you to do its bidding, forces you to do things in your name that you would not ordinarily want to do. Ah, but you have a chance to avoid some of the looting if you jump through all the hoops and look for ways to save your hard earned wealth by completing the income tax form. But for some, it has become so complex that bean-counters must be hired at taxpayers expense to wrestle away some of the loot that has been stolen and get the blessed refund.

Last year The Fraser Institute came up with a postcard sized tax form (10 lines)that most tax filers can use and fill out in 5 minutes. It counts on a 15% flat tax that reduces the unnecessary hoops and makes an already distasteful experience less so. The time is long past for this innovation, the sooner the better and this way there will be fewer things to resent.

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