LETTER: A different take on tax measures
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Re: Tax cuts in the 2023 budget.
I read the viewpoint in Friday’s Brandon Sun by the left-leaning think tank researcher Niall Harney and felt I needed to respond to his assessment.
Firstly, Manitoba’s personal basic tax exemption had been frozen for many years (since the Doer government, if I remember correctly), which did not allow cost-of-living increases, unlike our neighbouring provinces, which indexed them. As a result, Manitoba’s personal taxes increased each year because of that exemption stagnation. Raising the exemption to $15,000 would level the field more in comparison to our neighbours’ exemptions, and maybe we would see fewer people leave our province to hold onto more of their money.
The second part missing in this article is the fact that the estimate of about 45,000 taxpayers would be dropped off the tax roll completely. This surely helps the lower-income levels. Some of those low-income earners are students who work part-time and would appreciate the break.
Thirdly, there are only two ways to give tax breaks — one, by using a type of percentage (bracket shifting) or else an equal flat dollar amount to every taxpayer, similar to the carbon tax relief cheque issued this month by the government. (In reality, I wouldn’t count that as a tax break, but rather an “assistance cheque.”)
But let’s look at who pays the majority of personal taxes in Manitoba — obviously the middle-income earners and the higher-income earners. The low-income earners do not and should not shoulder high taxes. So, if a tax cut is given, it only makes sense that those who pay more should get more back, otherwise it isn’t a tax break, but redistribution.
For example, if Canadian Tire advertised that if you buy something at their store, you will get $20 off. So if I buy something for $5, does that mean the store would have to pay me $15 back? Not likely. The store should only give off $5 because that is all you spent. Is that as fair as buying something for $2,000 and getting $20 off?
Similarly, if a person pays little or no tax, should they receive the higher earners’ tax break of $574 to $1,322 if their tax burden is lower than that? Or should they only receive up to the amount they contributed.
I believe that assistance programs are available or can be designed to help the lower end of the income groups who need genuine help and refrain from condemning the poor taxpayer who seldom gets a break.