Complaining about tax rates is de rigueur in the business pages of this and other newspapers these days, especially corporate rates.
Having just written a whopping big cheque to Canada Revenue Agency for 80 per cent of my tax bill – and taking out a short-term loan until a couple of financial ships come in during the summer – the cheque in my hand would absolutely shock most of the people I went to school with.
And because I practice law though a corporation, I will have another big cheque to write in June for my corporate tax bill.
So I'm a perfect candidate to rant and rave about tax rates in this country, and to demand that they go down because I pay too much.
I would have liked a tax reduction in 2009 and 2010, to make this cheque in my hand – and the one I’ll write in June – way smaller. But I'd like to point out to people who, like me, run their own businesses that we need viable tax rates to keep the country from becoming another Greece, Ireland or Portugal, none of which can pay for public services any more.
The cheque I just signed, the ones I write each month for my employee source deductions, and the one I’ll write in June for my law corporation, help build and maintain the roads, highways and other infrastructure that Canadian products are shipped on. They help pay for the bridges these products cross to make it to the factory or to market. They help pay for our seaports, airports and other public facilities that we need for Canadian businesses to be successful.
They help pay for the police and fire departments that protect your business and your employees from harm, and they help pay for a civil justice system that you, as business people, can access to deal with your contractual and property disputes – not to mention punishing under criminal law those who would harm you, your family and your property.
To give but a small example of what taxes do for business, a fair chunk of my legal practice involves intellectual property law, but if there wasn’t a Canadian Intellectual Property Office in Ottawa granting patents and trademarks, protection would decline. Foreign businesses –unable to safeguard their trademarks, patents and other intellectual property – would avoid Canada like the plague.
Everyone wants to complain about government waste, but having practised law for more than 26 years at a number of firms and having worked for – and against – many small, medium-sized and large businesses, I know inefficiency and bad decision-making isn’t a monopoly confined to the public sector.
We should praise the public sector and the tax dollars that support it, not bury it.
I have a close relative who has just developed breast cancer. She has been fast-tracked through the system and been given MRIs and other invasive procedures. She will be operated on in a matter of days: doctors discovered the lump no more than three weeks ago.
To those who complain about high personal and corporate taxes, remember that when you are gravely ill in this country, the tax base supports a medical system that is there when it is needed. It may not be perfect for illnesses or injuries that are not grave, but when the illness is life-threatening, like it has been for members of my family, the system works, and it won’t work if people aren’t prepared to pay for it.
And to a large extent, it has to come from our taxes. Those who promote further tax cuts may one day find themselves at the receiving end of a health-care system that can no longer treat even the gravest of illnesses.
Your tax dollars and mine helped give my son and daughter a very good public education in the elementary, middle and high schools of New Westminster, B.C. These taxes are also providing a first-rate university education for my daughter at the University of Victoria.
Whether my son decides to go to UVic, UBC, Western or McGill in 2012, I’m sure he will receive an outstanding university education.
My kids will be a net benefit to this country not only because of caring and engaged parents who see education as a priority, but also because of RESPs and other government-sponsored programs that were initiated to help us pay for their education. The rest of it, of course, coming from the tax base.