This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Transit tax penalizes the poor.
This week’s topic: Is a 0.5% increase in the provincial sales tax a good way to fund transit improvements in Metro Vancouver?
Let’s face it, for most people tax is a four-letter word. Say it and people scowl as if you’ve said something offensive and inappropriate. However painful it is to hear, the truth is that taxes are a necessary evil. For every level of government, from municipal through to federal, taxes are vital revenue streams that help pay for the services and infrastructure we rely on.
Having said that, I don’t think an increase in the provincial sales tax within Metro Vancouver to fund transit improvements alone is the solution.
It’s been said that a no vote in this referendum will set back transit a decade and there is no other way to fund transit that is as fair as this proposal, yet a tax that penalizes those who can least afford it is anything but equitable.
It’s estimated to cost the average family approximately $125 a year, and the poorest families, $50.
Without a doubt, we need to get moving on transit in Metro Vancouver, but we are also facing some big challenges as a province. Highways and other infrastructure are in disrepair. Hospitals are overcrowded and understaffed. The list goes on, yet we keep hearing there is no money.
Read Brent Stafford’s column here.
I can’t help but feel it’s terribly short-sighted to approach the funding solution for transit on its own when the province is clearly in need of a solid revenue stream for all of these challenges.
While the premier often boasts about our low tax rates, the cost has been steep. What isn’t mentioned is that the series of cuts to both personal and corporate taxes since 2000 created a devastating hole in provincial revenues that has never been adequately replaced. We’ve been left with a regressive tax system that hurts the people who can least afford it – just like this sales tax increase…
READ the rest of this weeks column, comment and vote at http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2014/12/14/transit-tax-penalizes-the-poor
HERE is the link to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives paper on progressive tax solutions: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/BC%20Office/2013/01/CCPA-BC-Tax-Options_0.pdf
And here is the quick look at page 8 where a portion of the reforms are listed – many of these options could potentially provide enough revenue for transit improvement ( dedicated much like the portion of this sales tax revenue proposal) as well as bringing in additional revenue for things like healthcare and education,as well as restoring cuts to justice services programs etc.