Summertime reality TV (Episode 1):
Survivor — Taxpayers on CCRA Island

Ottawa - Tuesday, July 8, 2003 - by: Walter Robinson, Federal Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation


We join our survivor cast on CCRA (Canada Customs and Revenue Agency) island with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a copy of Tax Statistics on Individuals 2002.



who pays

Tax Statistics on Individuals 2002 is a statistical compendium of all tax filers from the year 2000 (the last year for which full data is available) and yields some interesting tidbits about who pays what taxes, average taxes paid, the so-called rich who allegedly don’t pay any taxes, etc. And for those who claim that taxing the rich more would solve all of our problems, if only we had more so-called rich people to tax.



don't pay

In Y2K, 22,237,030 Canadians filed tax returns. Only 15,411,650 ended up paying taxes. Do the math (carry the one, count on the big toe) and we learn that 6,825,380 Canadians — seniors, students, part-timers, etc. — may have had taxes deducted from their paycheques, but refunds or other changes meant that they paid no federal income tax whatsoever.



1/2 pay

In other words, only 69.3% of all federal tax filers actually pay any federal income tax. Just over half of Canada’s population pays federal income tax. Another interesting statistic deals with the question of wealth. Almost 18.6 million tax filers — some 83.5 % of us — earned gross income of $50,000 or less.



2.7% earn
> $100,000

Over 21.6 million (out of 22 million plus) of all tax filers earned gross income of less than $100,000. Only 2.7 % of tax filers — 598,700 Canadians — earn over $100,000 annually. As for millionaires, we’re not sure but we do know that only 102,980 (of the 598,700 figure above) citizens have taxable incomes of over $250,000.



horse cart

Tax the rich more? Let’s not put the cart before the horse. Perhaps our economy could first foster more wealth creators and innovators. Now let’s examine who pays what?



paid 18.7%

Total taxable income assessed in 2000 was a whopping $618 billion which yielded $90.3 billion in federal income tax payable. For all Canadian taxpayers, average individual income assessed was $31,279.02 and average federal income tax paid was $5,856.04 or 18.7 %. But the spreads as we move up the income scale tell a different story.



1/3 all taxes
from low

For taxpayers in the $0 to $50K taxable income bracket, the average income was $19,380.44 and federal income taxes payable were $2,565.89 or 13.2 %. Overall this group accounts for 76.2 % of all tax payers (11.7 million out of 15.4 million) and they paid 33.4 % of all federal income taxes.



middle income
1 in 5 taxpayers

For taxpayers in the $50K to $100K taxable income bracket, the average income was $65,856.98 and federal income taxes payable were $10,255.99 or 15.6 %. Overall this group accounts for 19.9% of all tax payers (3.1 million out of 15.4 million) and they paid 34.9 % of all federal income taxes.

upper income

Finally, for 596,840 taxpayers (out of 15.4 million total taxpayers) in the $100K and over income bracket, they paid 31.7 % of all federal income taxes even though this group represents a mere 3.9 % of all taxpayers.


If we extrapolate over all tax filers the taxation of Canada’s wealthy becomes even more pronounced. The top 2.7 % of all tax filers pay 31.7 % of all federal income taxes. Middle income Canadians — 13.8 % of us — pay 34.9% of all federal income taxes. Then the remaining 83.5% of all income earners foot the rest (33.4%) of Canada’s federal income tax bill.


The lesson learned from this book is clear. Should we tax the rich more? No, they already pay their fair share. And we certainly can’t stick it to the middle class. Ditto for Canada’s low-income earners who find it tough enough already. So Ottawa doesn’t have revenue problem, it has an expenditure problem.




But alas, this is next week’s show: Who wants to be a budget cutter?

Walter Robinson
Federal Director



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