Report confirms taxes take greater bite than food, clothing and shelter combined

By Joel Ceausu on August 30, 2015

If you're like most people, you probably suspected it all along, even joked about it come tax time, bill time, paycheque time, heck anytime at all. But the Fraser institute in its most recent report confirms it: 

The average Canadian family paid more in taxes last year than for food, clothing and shelter combined. 

According to the Vancouver-based think-tank, families spent $33,272 (42.1%) of income to the federal taxman and his provincial, municipal, and school board minions compared to $28,887 (36%) on basic necessities last year. 

It’s a  marked shift since 1961, when the average family’s tax bill represented a third of their earnings but more than half (56.5%) was spent on food, clothing and shelter said Fraser’s director of fiscal studies Charles Lammam, who co-authored the Canadian Consumer Tax Index, which tracks the total tax bill of average Canadian families from 1961 to 2014. 

“Over the past five decades, the tax bill for the average Canadian family has ballooned, and now the amount of money going to taxes is greater than what’s spent on life’s basic necessities,” he said, adding the total levy is comprised of both visible and ‘hidden’ taxes, including those on income, payroll, sales, property, healthcare, fuel, alcohol, and more. In the last 53 years, total taxes increased by 1,886 percent, dwarfing rises in food costs (561%), clothing (819%) and shelter (1,366%).

The taxman’s bounty continues to outpace basic necessities, leaving families with less cash to spend, save or pay down household debt, according to the report, which says even after accounting for 53 years of inflation, tax bills shot up 149.2 percent.

Lammam says the main issue is “the amount of taxes that governments take compared to what we get in return. With 42 per cent of income going to taxes, Canadians might wonder whether they’re getting the best value for their tax dollars.”

To put it in a weekly perspective, if you are a typical full-time worker, you’re on the taxman’s clock until after Wednesday morning’s first cup of coffee.

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