I have assembled:
- A calculator;
- A pen and pencil;
- My best reading glasses; and,
- A considerable pile of paperwork
It’s time to do my income taxes!
On the one hand I rather enjoy doing them and get them done as soon as I have all my T4s in hand, because I always get back a little money and I figure I might as well get is back as soon as possible.
On the other hand I have to see, in big round numbers, how much of my income the government gets to keep. It never seems right that I have to support myself and my child on only two-thirds of my income while the government gets a third of everybody’s income to conduct their business. And why do they get to keep our money? Because they said so, that’s why. It sort of feels like having the dessert stolen out of my lunch every day by the school bully in exchange for him not beating me up.
And then the government gets to do all sorts of stupid stuff with my money like giving it to people who didn’t do their jobs very well (automobile manufacturers, banks) or funneling it into programs that have no hope of ever working (war on drugs). I don’t think anyone would give me extra money for doing my job extra poorly or for coming up with harebrained schemes that required larger and larger amounts of funding every year and which, instead of solving problems, create even bigger problems.
And you know what else seems really wrong about taxes? I’ll tell you what. The fact that taxes punish you for doing good stuff.
For instance, the harder I work or the better my business does, the more of my money I have to fork over.
Sales tax isn’t right either. Here I am out being a consumer, keeping the economy rolling along and I get punished by having to pay an additional percentage of the cost of everything I buy.
And what about homeowners? The nicer they keep their properties and neighbourhoods, the more they have to pay in taxes.
You’d think the government would want us all to work hard and make more money. You’d think the government would encourage, not discourage us to buy lots of stuff. You’d think the government would applaud, not penalize us for fixing up our homes and neighbourhoods, wouldn’t you?
I think they should stop taxing us on all that good stuff we do and start taxing us on the bad stuff we do — the stuff they don’t want us to do. Because the current system isn’t working out to well for either side, is it?
I’m thinking we could extend the alcohol/tobacco tax idea and start taxing other undesirable goods, behaviours and systems. For instance:
- A tax on bad environmental practices (motor-vehicle emissions; industrial pollution; use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers; usage of water by corporate agriculture; fishing depleted stocks; all use of carbon fuels including manufacturing; any use of non-renewable resources; etc)
- A heftier tax on non-nutritious foods and no tax on nutritious foods (I know there’s already something of a wishy-washy policy like this in place)
- Decriminalize recreational drugs and prostitution and levy a hefty tax on users.
- A tax on crime. I haven’t worked out how exactly that would be implemented but I’m sure some smart tax lawyer types can figure something out. We could start with taxing parents of young offenders and parents of kids who vandalize, terrorize and commit other acts of hooliganism.
- Tax on poor customer service. A complaint centre can be established for every province/state which collects customer complaints. Businesses are then taxed according to percentage of complaints per customer base or something.
Anyway, that’s the general idea. I think with a little creativity, vision and ingenuity we could come up with a lot of little things to tax that we, as a society, want to discourage.
I’m pretty sure the government could make a heck of a lot more money by taxing vices and bad business and other ugly stuff than by taxing stuff like my income.
Think of how much new business we’d attract if they weren’t taxed. Think of how much more stuff we could purchase, thereby stimulating the economy, if we didn’t have to pay sales tax and if we could keep that other third of our income.
I don’t know why no one has ever thought of this before? Hmmm… maybe they have and were laughed at long and hardily.
Oh well, for now I have to get back to my tax forms…