On Taxes

Hands up if you love paying taxes. 🙋‍♂️

*grumbling ensues*

Believe me, I feel the same way.

As yet another tax season floats our way, I am reminded of the all-too-familiar discussions I’ve had where people proudly share their justification for cheating on taxes.

“I didn’t vote for this party,” some say.

“The politicians don’t even pay tax themselves,” others cry.

“Taxes are too high,” sings the choir.

Now, what you choose to do with your money is your business, but I must admit I am intrigued by the way we humans attempt to justify our deceitful behavior.

In the name of education, I’d like to briefly cover the origins of taxation in Canada (home sweet home 🇨🇦) and then share my journey toward finding peace in paying taxes honestly.

A Teeny Tiny History Lesson

Taxation in Canada was largely implemented in 3 stages during World War I.

In 1914, the government started taxing goods and services. This began with nonessential items such as alcohol and tobacco, expanded to common items such as transport tickets and telegrams, and finally covered staple goods such as food, tea, and coffee.

Still unsatisfied, the government then tapped businesses for taxes by passing the the Business Profits War Tax Act of 1916.

Finally, as a cherry on top, the government forced us commonfolk to start paying tax by passing the Income War Tax Act of 1917.

These were all branded as “temporary wartime measures” because, hey, tanks aren’t free. 💥

As we know, the government conveniently never got around to revoking these laws. Which makes sense, because once you start working, one thing you quickly learn about governments is that they are money-hungry machines.

Being An Honest Taxpayer

Personally, I’m conflicted when it comes to taxation because I don’t trust the government and I don’t think tax dollars are used to serve the people. I imagine running the country probably gets in the way of a politician’s top priority: campaigning for re-election.

After complaining about this for a few years (call me stubborn), I eventually found peace in being an honest taxpayer. That peace came directly from a response Jesus offered: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God.” (Matthew 22:15–22) He made this statement in response to some religious elitists of the day who, knowing the people loathed paying taxes, asked Him if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar.

Before, my only motivation for paying taxes was fear of audits and prosecution. I don’t know about you, but when I’m motivated by fear, the results are usually stressful and unfulfilling.

In the end, I don’t want to be a slave to money, driven to lie and cheat in its name. And let us not forget that the government literally prints this stuff at will… to the tune of $560 million per day in the US.

*scampers off to fill out tax forms*

Edit on Feb 6, 2018: It’s been brought to my attention that this post makes it seem as if I am against taxation. To clarify, I support and benefit from the public infrastructure and services our taxes pay for. The reason I am conflicted is because, personally, I think there is room for improvement regarding the responsible use of tax resources. My apologies for the misunderstanding.

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Jonathan February 6, 2018 Reply

I don’t begrudge paying taxes, because I know they benefit (or they’re supposed to) everyone. But I would like to see more transparency about what our taxes actually pay for. Plus, a lot of what those dollars are spent on could be used in far more productive ways.

(Example: Our defense spending could be cut by 1/3 and that money used to fund all the educational needs for everyone. We would still be spending more on defense than any other nation on Earth, but the people would (hopefully) be better educated and vote in smarter representatives who make better, more sound, responsible decisions. [OK…now you see why education always gets the shaft]) 😉

Graham Swan February 6, 2018 Reply

Have you seen the USAFacts website? It’s a project funded by Steve Ballmer that is supposed to answer the question of where American tax dollars go.

Regarding your example about moving defence dollars to education, I think you’ve uncovered another of the many complications with the government’s incentives.

If they focused on running the country, would they be re-elected on merit alone?

If they focused on improving education, would the more-informed electorate vote them back in?

Jonathan February 6, 2018 Reply

I think a more informed electorate would be able to make better choices as to whom they wanted to re-elect…not that they necessarily would. Sometimes even people with the biggest brains do the stupidest things.

Getting politicians to focus on running the country would be a major milestone. Perhaps we need to implement single term service limit and require they wait a term to re-run for the same office. Government service should not be a life-long tenure.

Graham Swan February 6, 2018 Reply

Agreed. It is certainly interesting to note the potential correlation between money-hungry institutions such as governments and universities and life-long tenure positions. I’m not sure why people in such positions should not have to continue to prove their worth and add value.

Jonathan February 7, 2018

Absolutely. Unfortunately, people are lazy, and as long as the “believe” someone is looking out for their best interests (usually as the result of a well-managed propaganda campaign), those who are in office tend to stay there. That’s why we NEED term limits of some kind.

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