Tax time is like eating tinfoil ... painful

Ottawa - Tuesday, April 30, 2002 - by: Walter Robinson, Federal Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation


Forget winter, spring, summer and fall, Canada has three real seasons: hockey, construction and tax time. Thankfully April 30th represents the end of the season known as tax time. This year twenty-three million Canadians will file tax returns and some fifteen million of us will actually end up as bonafide taxpayers. But first, the silver lining of the tax time cloud.




Over 1.8 million Canadians will file over the Internet using Netfile, up from 1.4 million in 2001. If you’re expecting a refund, it will (or was) be directly deposited into your account in about ten days as opposed to the traditional six-week wait if your cheque is coming in the mail.




The average refund this year, according to the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA), is $1,120. But this isn’t a windfall, it simply means you paid too much tax in the first place. Seeking better tax planning and financial advice now will ensure that you keep this money for yourself in the future and put it to more productive and immediate use.



May 1st

Taxpayers should also know that, even if they owe the taxman money, they should file before the April 30th deadline. If you owe money, interest at the rate of 6%, compounded daily kicks in on May 1st. If you fail to file by April 30th, it gets worse. Not only will you be slapped with a 5% late filing fee, a 1% charge on your balance owing will also accumulate monthly to a maximum of 12%. If you wait to file your 2001 tax return until April 2003, you will owe 17% interest on top of taxes payable. And unlike interest you pay on a loan, this interest is not tax deductible.




Is it usury? Yes. Does this enter the world of sky-high credit card rates charged by banks? Absolutely. While income taxes, Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance taxes are taken by compulsion off of our paycheques, as a taxpayer you do have a choice whether to pay these interest rates or not: just file on time.



4% if
owe you

If Canada Customs and Revenue Agency owes you money, the interest rate is 4% and it doesn’t kick until June 15th, 45 days after the tax filing deadline. To add insult to injury, as noted tax expert Arthur Drache points out, any interest paid by Canada Customs and Revenue Agency to you must be reported as income on your tax return the following year.



49.6% of
goes to

Tax time also prompts many to ask: how much am I really paying, what value do I get for my tax dollar and why can’t Ottawa and the provinces do better with less? Valid questions indeed. According to the Fraser Institute, your family pays 49.6% of its income in taxes and fees to all levels of government. Ottawa collects the lion’s share at 65%, the provinces suck up another 30%, and city hall is left with the last 5%.




As for the value question, this depends on your view of the role of government. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation believes, there is a great deal of wasteful spending. Right off the top $4 billion each year of Ottawa’s tax haul is earmarked for grants, loans and subsidies to Canadian businesses, more commonly referred to as corporate welfare.




The Auditor General has also pointed out that at least $13 billion of the annual $170 federal tax take is for “discretionary” program spending. Along with corporate welfare, think Human Resources Development Corporation boondoggles and regional development schemes that perpetuate a destructive cycle of handout dependency when considering this $13 billion figure.




As for doing more with less, yes it is possible. For fiscal year 2001/2002, Ottawa will probably post an $8.5 billion surplus of over-taxation once all in and out accounts have been closed. Is this a lot of money? Yes. If you had a dollar for every second of your life that ticked by starting now, it would take 31 years, 8 months and 16 days just to reach $1 billion.




One final thought, our American friends celebrated tax freedom day (the day they start working for themselves) this past weekend. For us, it’s still two months away … oh yeah, happy tax deadline day.


  Walter Robinson
Federal Director