Taxes. No one likes paying them.
Indeed, most people think of taxes as a drain on their pocketbook. You work hard, earn money, then along comes the government to take some of it away.
It could be income taxes, which are on everyone’s mind at this time of year or, the dreaded GST/PST, which hits you at the cash register daily, or the hidden taxes on fuel, electricity, water, and other necessities.
Maybe we shouldn’t be thinking about taxes as an unavoidable expense but asking what are we buying with our taxes?
The median family income in British Columbia is $85,000 before taxes and $76,000 after taxes. A typical family pays $9,000 in total for federal and provincial income taxes.
What are they buying for that $9,000?
Just considering B.C., the Ministry of Education and Child Care is an $8.87 billion dollar ministry with about two-thirds of that going to the K-12 system. The current grant per child is about $8,000. For our typical median household with two adults and two school-aged children, education would be $16,000 per year.
The Ministry of Health is a $30.9 billion dollar ministry and with a population of 5.32 million people, that works out to about $5,800 per person or $23,200 for our family of four.
So far, our $9,000 in taxes is buying us $39,200 in services.
But wait, you say, I don’t have children in school and I don’t ever get sick. What is my $9,000 doing then?
There is still another $32.7 billion in the budget which provides services such as protection of property and persons, highways, roads, and transportation, social services, post-secondary education, and other services. Works out to roughly $7,800 per person in the province.
In total, we get roughly $15,250 worth of goods and services per person in the province or $63,000 for a family of four. Even if you include all the personal taxes – income, sales, fuel, carbon, tobacco, property – the amount we pay provincially per person in taxes is about $5,100 or $20,400 for a family. We get three times that back in total value.
And I haven’t included the benefits we get from the federal government. No one likes taxes but they are a pretty good deal.
Todd Whitcombe is a chemistry professor at the University of Northern B.C. in Prince George.