“We will be doing our tax plan, not the Liberal tax plan,” (Harper) said, singling out the Tories’ promise to cut the GST to five per cent from seven per cent as the centrepiece of the initiative that involves selected personal and business tax cuts. “We can’t do both. And our tax reduction will save a lot more money for Canadians than the Liberal plan.”
One of the measures implemented from the Liberals’ November mini-budget reduced the marginal tax rate for persons earning less than $35,595 to 15 per cent from 16 per cent. At the time, the Liberals promised further cuts in the income-tax rates down the road.
So instead, I'm supposed to make do with paying 1% less on the GST. I know they always try to get it played as a 2% cut, but I note that only the first 1% cut would be enacted this year. The other half would come at some time over five years (in other words, towards the end of his mandate, at the point he would call us back to the polls again.)
So basically, this is a big screw you to working families like mine, who can't benefit from any capital gains tax cut on donations to charities because we are struggling just to keep up with mortgage payments and other bills. It's a pretty meagre portion of my paycheck that goes into non-grocery purchases, let me tell you. At least Jack knows the score on this, and I thought he had the best take on it:
"I was shocked to learn that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives apparently are willing to increase the income taxes on the lowest income people in our community in order to pay for all of their other tax cut promises that they have been throwing around. This to me is shocking and the fact that this has come forward should give every Canadian citizen pause as to what kind of an agenda is here and certainly it is the wrong way to go."
Layton said his party's tax policy calls for no increases in taxes, supports an increase in the basic personal exemption and a reduction in the lowest income tax rate that is now coming into effect.
That's a turnaround from conventional wisdom for you: the far right-wing pledging to raise taxes at a time when the government is awash in money, and the left-wing pledging to lower them. Of course we can see that it depends which rung you find yourself occupying on the social ladder. As one of the families Layton is talking about, I assure you the proposed GST cut would be felt very little in this household in comparison with having my income taxes bounced back up.
Plus, with the currently hot economy, it's the wrong time to take measures designed to increase consumer spending anyway. With interest rates already on an upswing to cool down the economy, cutting the GST could therefore put even more upward pressure on interest rates; this at a time when Canadians are overwhelmingly more indebted than perhaps ever before.
There is no doubting it: Harper would look out for those who are already better off. That's the only segment of the population he really cares about (as long as they don't want to marry their same-sex partner, that is).
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