Taxing times

This may be a sensitive time of year to raise this topic — but it may also be the most appropriate time. We’re all about to file our income taxes, which can be stressful for some of us, just an unpleasant chore for others.

But each of us stops and wonders at some point: why am I paying so much of my income to the government? In addition to the taxes I shell out every day on goods and services? In addition to the surcharge on gas (about to be raised in Ontario) every time I fill up the car? In addition to the levies, fees and taxes for owning and transferring property? In addition to all the other deductions from my paycheque and…? Well, you get the idea.

Some people admittedly get stuck at this point. They become prey to politicians and organizations who rail against taxation — any and all taxation — as theft, and to those who would freeze or cut taxes at the expense of any needed services or programs.

But fortunately in Canada many of us come around to a different understanding. None of us like taxes, none of us want to pay more taxes. But we move from the question of “Why taxes at all?” to the question of “What are we getting for our taxes?”

Politicos of all stripes have certain projects they want funded to varying extents — including armed forces, weapons, police, welfare, corporate bailouts, infrastructure, pensions, healthcare, transit, housing, foreign aid, refugees, education, post-secondary education, daycare….

Like it or not, the discussion — in this country, at least — has advanced to which projects most need funding to benefit the well-being of all our society’s citizens, especially given the unconscionable inequalities that have been allowed to develop to this point.

Which, granted, doesn’t make filling out our taxes any easier this year.