You know when you find a flight for $79 to your favourite destination? And you just happen to have $79 dollars and some extra vacation days? So you click Book Now and when you review the flight and enter your credit card details all of a sudden the flight is $150. Why? Taxes and other fees.
That is how I feel about the current PC government and the 2015 Alberta Budget.
According to the 2015 budget, effective January 1, 2016 the Charitable Donation Tax Credit will decrease from 21% to 12.75% on donations above $200. The government says that back in 2007 the increase from 12.75% to 21% was meant to encourage new donors to contribute over $200, however that measure proved ineffective. Apparently the higher tax credit did not generate a considerable increase in new donors. The justification in lowering it back to 2006 rates is that it will save the government 90 million dollars a year, and the people who contributed before will continue to contribute just as they did before 2006. So while there is still the same tax credit for political donations, my donations to causes that matter most to me will no longer offer the same offsetting tax benefits as they have previously. For me, it’s only been in recent years that I could afford to donate to charities of my choice. While it may or may not change much about my donation choices, hypothetically, if I no longer see the same tax benefit, maybe I will set the money aside to pay my taxes at the end of April instead.
I saw an interesting statictic on Mike Morrison’s twitter page, which lead me to a Globe and Mail article. Did you know that 80% of the PC Party’s donations over $250 come from corporations, not individuals? The NDP and Wildrose parties on the other hand, receive a much higher percentage of donations over $250 from individuals. The same corporations that the PC government did not apply a progressive tax to. People run provinces, and without the people there would be no corporations. So why is it that individual’s tax goes up but corporations are never touched?
The PCs also announced that they will be introducing a progressive tax structure. This means that now that I have worked my way up the ladder through sweat, tears and long nights I will now have to pay the government a higher percentage of my salary for them to waste. Originally I thought that I just opposed a progressive tax structure. After all why should I have to pay a higher percentage of my money? I would rather keep more of my hard earned money in my pocket. The truth is though that I can afford to pay more. Increasing my taxes means I have to cut down on luxuries like parking at work or visiting my favourite barista at starbucks so often we’re on a first name basis. The same increase for a lower income family could mean deciding between buying lunch meat or fruit, a decision no family should ever have to make.
But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I’m not totally opposed to a progressive tax, I’m just opposed to paying more for less. For example, while dwindling away the Heritage Fund the PC government has been over spending every year, running a deficit budget in a province that has been considered rich.
In addition to increasing my personal taxes by 1.5%, I will also be charged a $1000 health care levy. This levy is no closer to helping our failing health care system than fishing holes are to making roads safer. Yes, you make money, but the problem never gets resolved.
As someone who suffers from infertility I can tell you Canada already has a semi-hidden two-tier health care system. And for me, my income is too high to claim any medical expenses as tax credits. We paid out of pocket for $80,000 in medical treatments which haven’t been successful yet. Why is this relevant? Because in some provinces, health care levies actually make a difference. Ontario and Quebec cover IVF treatment to some extent. I’m not suggesting the Alberta Health Care levy should cover fertility treatment, but it sure would be nice if I didn’t have to wait 5 hours in the ER just to see a doctor or if there were enough nurses that they didn’t have to work double or triple shifts. Our health care levy is simply another tax with no direct and meaningful plan to resolve the issues with wait times, access to specialists, new equipment or availability of hospital beds.
At first a 1.5% increase doesn’t sound so bad, even if it rubbed you the wrong way as it originally did with me. It’s like the $79 plane ticket. But then, you click the Vote PC button and you get slapped with a $1000 levy and less cash back on your taxes as a result of your donations. You see fewer schools get built than needed and teachers required to keep a group of 35 10 year olds focused. New infrastructure projects put on hold, affecting not only the people of Alberta who would use the roads, but all the companies contracted to work on the projects, and all the employees of those companies who were counting on the salary to support their families. And then if you have an accident, waiting through the night just to get access to a doctor and nurse because the administration team is so big they can’t afford to staff the front line. Every manager has his own manager, who has his own manager, with no one accountable to the tax dollars that pay them. Administration is necessary, in fact critical to a smooth running system. But when was the last time we looked into the system to see how many people spend their days online shopping because there are more people than work.
So all of a sudden the Vote PC button has cost me about $3000/year, plus lost tax refund. And my quality of life has decreased because our education system is failing to develop children to their full potential, infrastructure is falling behind, people around me are struggling to support their families and people’s frustration is mounting because they can’t afford to save money for a rainy day.
But it’s Ok, because Jim Prentice thinks he looks really smart on his 80″ LED TVs.