Is the Fraser Institute Misleading Canadians About Taxes? Read This and Decide.

Rossland Telegraph
By Rossland Telegraph
June 9th, 2017

The Broadbent Institute and the Fraser Institute come up with different figures when analyzing the “tax burden” of Canadians.  There’s a report produced by statistitian Richard Shillington and economist Robin Shaban for the Broadbent Institute that explains the differences: “The Brass Tax: Busting Myths About Overtaxed Canadians” — and readers can click on that link to see the detailed analysis.

In its executive summary, the report refers to “studies purporting to  show the growing burden of taxation, reinforcing a narrative that Canadians are paying high tax rates and providing justification for tax cuts. This study investigates whether these claims, and the popular anti-tax narrative they help underpin, hold up to statistical scrutiny.”

Here’s how the Broadbent Institute introduces and explains its report to the public:

“Every June, the Fraser Institute proclaims a “Tax Freedom Day” to make the misleading claims that the average Canadian family pays a tax rate of over 40 per cent and that Canadians face an ever growing tax burden. Worse still, the media often lets these flawed claims go unchallenged.

“Well, we’ve had enough.

“A new study, “The Brass Tax: Busting Myths About Overtaxed Canadians,” conducted for the Broadbent Institute by Richard Shillington and Robin Shaban shows that the Fraser Institute’s findings paint a deceptive picture of typical Canadian tax rates.

“In reality, the average tax rate is only about half what the Fraser Institute claims. Employing more accurate statistical methods, Shillington and Shaban find that the effective tax rate for the typical Canadian family is actually 24 per cent. More pointedly, the typical effective income tax rate for a Canadian family is only 11 per cent — a far cry from the 40+ per cent claimed by the Fraser Institute.

“Taxes pay for vital public services such as healthcare, education and infrastructure. The Fraser Institute inaccurately peddles the myth that Canadians are overtaxed. This undermines our ability to invest in programs that are key to the well-being of all Canadians.

“We can’t let the Fraser Institute get away with it.

“[–] Check out our aggressive fact checking for this year’s so-called “Tax Freedom Day”: taxfreedom.ca.”

The “Brass Tax” report points out that “revenue earned by the government in exchange for services or goods is not taxes. For example, resource royalties are not taxes because firms obtain natural resources in exchange for their payment to the government. Notably, the Fraser Institute considers resource royalties for its calculations for Tax Freedom Day.”

It’s true that resource royalties are not taxes.  It’s also true that “average Canadians” do  not pay resource royalties at all.  Generally, corporations pay them to access publicly-owned resources and profit from their extraction and sale.

The report shows that Canada is not among the highest-tax paying nations, and points out some of what we get for the taxes we do pay. 

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