The Globe wonders whether this will be the year we learn to love taxes.
It’s all part of a remarkable embrace of taxes, not only for the wealthy but for all of us. Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Britain, France, Japan and the United States have all introduced tax increases to cover growing national debts and costly stimulus programs. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the average tax burden increased in 26 out of 34 OECD countries last year.
Whether these tax measures can come close to solving fiscal problems remains to be seen. More interesting is the shift in our attitudes: The language around current tax debates taps into social values of fairness and equality as well as responsibility – the latest measure of patriotism is paying up.
But how exactly would this conversation take shape here? Maybe a royal commission on taxation would start the discussion. But, at least federally, the NDP leader has ruled out increasing taxes. And the frontrunner to lead the Liberal party has ruled out increasing the GST. That still leaves a little room to maneuver: a price on carbon could be part of a discussion about “paying up” and, one supposes, Mr. Trudeau could institute a small tax on the highest earners without breaking his word to focus on the middle class. And, one imagines, the New Democrats and Liberals could make the same proposals they made in 2011 to raise the corporate tax rate. But where other countries have large deficit and debt problems, the federal deficit is not talked about as a profound crisis here. Meanwhile, the spending cuts so far made by the Conservatives have not yet inspired a great deal of public consternation. And discussion about taxes probably has to start not with the question of why new revenue would be needed: what exactly makes raising revenue necessary and how that revenue would be used.