Friday, July 22, 2011

Karl's wish for tax reform

I have an idea for a tax reform that I think would make a lot of people happy in Canada. What always struck me as odd is that even though income tax is always deducted at source (except for self-employed people, but that can be fixed), the government still expects you to tally up all the money you've made at the end of the year and you are in effect re-assessed as to how much tax you owe. I find this not only insulting, but highly inefficient. If I'm getting my tax deducted at source, what they deduct is what they should get - period. The problem is that the government spends too much time figuring out ways to tilt the scales in their favour, complicating things for everyone, them included. It shouldn't matter if you earned money from 3 different sources during the year. Whatever is calculated as the appropriate tax to deduct is at each source of income is all that you should ever owe. There should be no reason to file a tax return unless you earned money from a source where the tax was not deducted at the time you got paid. There should be no need to examine your tax situation until you get audited. Just keep your pay stubs and proof of other forms of income and let them sort it out as necessary.

The government might argue that this would earn them less tax revenue, but you simply adjust the tax rate to make the change revenue neutral. Simply put, a change like this would eliminate redundant government positions, or allow the government to audit more people - take your pick. Tax time would be a phenomenon only for those who did not deduct tax at source and there would be no money owing or rebates in the spring. If the company you work for didn't bother to deduct the right amount of tax for what they pay you, it should fall on them to explain why and be responsible for the shortfall.

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