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Support the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition: Stop Chow Now!


In case you missed it, I wanted to share with you a startling and shocking bit of news about the size and cost of municipal governments and their workforce. While we are paying more and more taxes, they are getting bigger and bigger and richer and richer. Doesn’t sound right now, does it?

A newly released study put out by Western University professor Timothy Cobban reveals that since 1995’s amalgamation, local government in Ontario has swollen by 39%!

Here are some more sobering facts made available by the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition;

  • In 1995 Ontario had 160,000 municipal employees, today there are 270,000 – an increase of 110,000.
  • Spending on municipal wages and salaries has increased almost fourfold – from less than $200 million in 1981 to $750 million today!
  • Ontario has only 38% of Canada’s population, yet 43% of the country’s municipal workforce.

Clearly, amalgamation, despite all the promises to the contrary has failed to deliver smaller, more efficient government.  Even the mere talk of closing or downsizing locally resulted in attack after attack on Rob Ford for being uneducated and hating libraries, for example.  It can’t be done if no one wants to admit there is duplication and waste, but then again it cannot continue to operate this way in the red…

So what went wrong?

Well for one thing, the merging of collective bargaining units meant compensation was harmonized upwards to the highest salaries and benefits for that position.

In fact, according to a Toronto Taxpayers Coalition analysis, the number of Toronto municipal employees earning $100,000 or more grew by an astounding 30% – from 5481 up to 7123 – in a single year.

Also, the layers of middle management in general administration positions were often duplicated

The bottom line from all this is obvious: local government is too big, too costly and too burdensome.

And brace yourself for some more bad news.

If Olivia Chow and her left wing NDP pals take control of the Toronto government in the next municipal election, things are guaranteed to get worse.

Much worse.

That’s why we need, more than ever, to stand up and promote the idea of smaller government and lower taxes.

We need a strong voice to offset the union bosses, the media and other assorted left wing groups who will be helping to push Chow’s big spending, high tax agenda while taking aim at the Fiscally Conservative candidates.

The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition will be that voice!

Indeed, they are already making a difference in Toronto politics, former Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday recently had this to say about them:

“The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition is a great organization, one that we sorely needed here a long time ago. Increases in taxes and an increases in spending by the Toronto council has gone on for so long that it’s a shame a group like this wasn’t in place to try to maybe put a stop to it earlier on.”

But we will to step up it up a notch for the next election and do even more.  You can help make sure the Taxpayers’ Coalition has the resources it will need to be a force in the next municipal election.

How?

Lots of ways. You can host fundraisers for us; you can introduce our group to your friends and business associates; you can volunteer your time, and of course you can contribute to our special municipal election fund.

But whatever you do, you need to help soon. The election is only months away, and the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition is already putting together a budget for a special “Stop Chow Now” campaign, to get out the message to voters, to expose and oppose the ruinous policies of Chow and the NDP.

That will be costly. Running an effective media campaign always is.

I’m hoping you will help, because I know you share my belief that Toronto can do better, and that we must do better. I also know that you’re willing to fight for what’s right!

So I’m asking you to donate $10, $25, $100, $500, or more to help “Stop Chow Now.”

Or better yet, sign up to make a monthly contribution automatically – it takes less than a minute to set up.

Whatever you donate, please make it the most generous contribution you can afford.

Together you and I, along with all the other Taxpayer Coalition supporters, can make a difference.

Thanks in advance for your support.

 

P.S. Thanks to forced dues and government funding, bug union bosses and special interest groups have lots of money to help Chow and the NDP. The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition relies on voluntary support. We rely on you and your generosity. Help us Stop Chow in 2014. Donate today.

Olivia Chow + Mayor + Toronto = Terrible Weather + High Taxes + Out of Control Spending


I don’t think there is any coincidence whatsoever that the day MP Olivia Chow announces that she wishes to resign her seat with the Federal Government of Canada, to run for Mayor of Toronto that the beautiful weather here in Toronto went from 11 degrees above 0 to 25 degrees below zero.mayor candidates

Understanding that current Mayor Rob Ford is a bit of a… Where to start… Sideshow, to immediately think that his political views are no longer needed in Toronto would be a huge misrepresentation of the truth.

Considering candidate John Tory (a Liberal by affiliation, and fiscal conservative) said that Ford is correct that there is a lot of wasted spending which needs to be reeled in, it would therefore make reasonable sense that a typical left-wing mandate of spend, tax and spend more, would bankrupt this city.

As much as I like Karen Stintz, she can help the right-wing causes (she’s right of centre fiscally and left of centre socially) by taking aim at Chow right away. We already know how she feels about Ford and she worked on Tory’s campaign in the past.

There is also an 18-year-old running whom I saw on TV, and it’s great that the youth want to be included in the process, but Mayor is not a realistic goal when she appears to think the solution to transit woes, and high taxes and over-priced real estate is to ask – no demand – that the Provincial government and Federal government give Toronto more money.

Umm, that money is tax money and while I’m happy you earned some babysitting, if the other governments are going to give more to Toronto that means either raising taxes, or cutting spending.

My hand is up for cutting spending. Wasteful spending only please.  Please no one mention libraries or books, or Margaret Atwood, or she’ll register to run too…

Someone should also tell her that in fact everyone does pay property taxes, whether owning or renting, as it’s included in rent too.

But with all that being said, the most important thing to take out of this post, is that with this election coming and all the fuss about the Fords, there are elected representatives sitting in Toronto City council who run by their own agenda and are not accountable to you, the voter.

I found, then lost, a pie chart showing the voting patterns of City Councillors since Ford was elected and there are about 5 of them who voted against the Mayor on each and every issue without fail.

If in 3-years these councillors could not find one issue to side with the Mayor on, then who are clearly not serving you, who elected them. Other councillors found common ground, but without fail some councillors just see something brought forward by the Mayor and vote against it without giving it any further thought.

Imagine if they were Mayor, and council was on the right of centre politically and every time they brought forward a motion it was voted against without fail…

They would be crying to every paper possible about council not wanting to work with them, and about a hidden agenda.

Talk to your councillor now. Ask them for their citing record and see if they truly represent your views for the city of Toronto, or if it’s time for them to find another job.

Oh, and day 2 with Chow in the race… Still looking bleak. On all fronts.

Thursday Thirteen – Taxation Related


As a taxation professional, it was only a matter of time before I posted a Thursday Thirteen that was taxation related.  I have a timely post this week around tax season – Canadian style – however some of it crosses the globe.If you ever want to read more taxation information or read my thoughts on managing, you can do so at www.intaxicating.wordpress.com.

But in the meantime, with tax filing season fast approaching, here are the 13 things you need to know before you file your 2011 tax returns;

13.  Contrary to popular belief of those on the left and those silly “Occupy” folks, in Canada (and the US), the top 10% of Canadian earners pay half of all personal income taxes, while the half of earners with the lowest income pay less than a tenth (1/10th) of the total. So those in the driver’s seat, the high and middle-income earners, they DO have some choice as to how much they want to spend and how much they plan to save, so by spending less, they pay less consumption taxes, less property tax, less gasoline tax, and other taxes and user fees – bank fees, late fees. interest on credit cards, etc., 

12.  Regardless of where you are and what you do, you really should file a tax return.  Canadian reporting is voluntary in certain conditions, but be sure before you pass on filing.  The CRA has a great list of when you need to file and why you should file right here;  http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/ncm-tx/flng-blgtns/menu-eng.html

11. You have the option to defer the paying of taxes, in some cases, when you save for retirement inside a RRSP / IRA or any other form of registered retirement savings plan.  In these plans, you defer payment of income taxes until later in life.  There are taxes assessed, when you withdraw the money after you have reached a certain age, usually 65-years-old, but those tax rates are probably lower than you would be paying now, if you have above-average income.

If your income is below average, you may be better off to pay taxes now and save in a tax-free savings account (TFSA).

If you save for your family inside a registered education savings plan or a registered disability savings plan, there will be a deferral of taxes on interest earnings, other investment returns and government grants. Then the child or other relative will likely pay little or no taxes on those savings.

10. Before you file make sure you have all your slips.  Amending sucks and looking for them last-minute can cause a lot of stress.  Trust me on that one.

9.  Make sure the government has correct information for you – address, name, direct deposit because you want your refund and if they audit you, they might not be re-assessing you, but rather they may be looking for an additional copy of a receipt they lost in the processing of 20 million tax returns.  Get to it and get to it quickly.  Do not ignore government mail and not open it.  Open it and action it..

8.. File this one electronically – but keep your receipts handy for audit and verification purposes.  It’s quick, you may get your money earlier and you’re saving trees,  My kids say thank you..

7.  If you owe money, do not write a note and attach it to your return, but contact the government and make a payment arrangement and honor it.  When your paper return comes into the processing centres, the processors, who are usually temporary hires to help the CRA get through the tax season, rip of cheques and process them right away, then they tear off any unnecessary paperwork and send the returns to a data processing group.  So if you include a piece of paper or maybe gold glittery powder, it’s in the classified waste bin right away.,

6. Think before you bitch – A third of all income in Canada is paid in taxes. But before you consider moving out of the country, consider that the Canadian tax burden is less than that of 19 other developed nations.  We, as Canadians only pay more taxes than 10 developed nations.

5. Why all the taxes?  Where does this tax revenue go?  With the tax revenue, 62% of it goes to pay for health care, education and social assistance, including unemployment benefits.  The rest, a measley 38% goes for everything else we need, like infrastructure, social programs, etc.  Not such a bad deal afterall, eh?

4. Not everything is taxed, here are some examples - There is no tax on a winning Lottery tickets, on scholarships, inheritances, gifts, the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) to the taxable Old Age Security (OAS) pension, Canada Child Tax Benefit cheques or child support payments after a divorce.  You pay no tax on at least the first $9,000 of waged earnings or $40,000 of income per year if you receive only eligible corporate dividends and $18,000 if you receive only capital gains.

3. On the flip side, some high-tax items - The income tax rate on income beyond $127,021 a year in 2010 was 46.4%. Taxes on cigarettes in Ontario was 63.5%; alcohol, 52.7%; and regular gasoline, around 36%.

2. The HST effect – The combined 13% federal and Ontario sales tax, the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) has boosted the incentive to conserve energy, because provincial sales tax did not apply to energy before July 1, 2011 – Thank you Dalton! – So you will save more if you choose a compact, well-insulated home close to your job and buy fuel-efficient vehicles – like my hybrid vehicle - appliances, lighting – get those halogen, CFC-free bulbs, and furnaces.

1. Tax relief opportunities – Numerous tax breaks and benefits aim to encourage you to better yourself or the economy, such as seek higher education, earn high grades, raise children, move closer to a job, belong to a professional group, take public transit, make charitable and political donations, invest in companies, start a small business, and save for retirement.  So get cracking. 

There are some easy wins here and some clear opportunities to save money and where we are all letting money slip through out fingers.

But whatever you do, get it there on time!  No point in paying the government a late filing penalty of $400.00 for your procrastination.

 Income Taxes By County

Thursday Thirteen – Ontario Election Edition


Hey, an Ontario election is coming and while the media is predicting a Conservative majority (YAY) and have to come clean that I actually like Dalton McGuinty. He looks and talks like a leader. His policies… Not so great, however. He came in as Premier in a Liberal landslide in a province that only sees (saw) Liberal red and loved the fact that he ran the Daily Bread Food Bank or something like that. At the time I’m sure I made some sort of comment about electing a leader who spends their career taking from the rich and giving to the less fortunate. That got us Mayor David Miller and tons of taxes and it got us 7 years of scandal / high taxes and disrespect for the money you and I give in taxes to the province.
So this week’s Thursday Thirteen are the 13 things that will cause the defeat of the Ontario Liberal Party and get Dalton on the road to an awesome pension…

1. The HST – I was at the Canadian Tax Federation annual meeting and the lunch time speaker was Finance Minister Dwight Duncan and he explained to the group of us that even in a recession bringing in the HST Was necessary to keep Ontario competitive. I didn’t understand his motive then and I still don’t understand it now. Minister Duncan also said something to the effect of “no other party has the guts” to merge the GST and PST but he did. Errr, okay. Thanks Mr. Duncan. The HST added additional taxes to such items as Cigarettes, fast food and which was good, but there were way too many bad, such as home heating costs, gas, electricity, new homes (over $400,000 – after June 30, 2010 which was why we closed June 29th, 2010 on our new house), airfare, TTC / Go Transit / Via services, real estate agent commissions.

2. The Delisting of OHIP Covered Necessary Health Services – When McGuinty’s Liberals promised not to decrease any health services covered by OHIP, and not to raise taxes, some people bought in to it and others, like myself, raised their eyebrows in skepticism, McGuinty did not disappoint and did both by implementing the Ontario Health Premium (recall that “fee” we have to pay each year to the doctor) and the delisting coverage of Optometry, Chiropractic and Physiotherapy Services for Ontarians.

3. The Ontario Health Premium – Mentioned above, this “fee” turned out to be the highest tax increase in Ontario’s history, and it was implemented not too long after McGuinty’s Liberals took power in 2003.  I even remember him signing a contract with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation – because I was working at the CRA at the time - to not increase taxes).

4. eHealth - This program never got off the ground and cost Ontario taxpayers billions of dollars and opened our eyes to the notion of sole-sourcing and untendered contracts and how to get the best price sometimes you have to get quotes for other service providers than to Liberal friends.  Consultants were hired and even they spent money like there was no tomorrow, billing Ontarians hundreds of thousands of dollars per year while having the balls to expense a chocolate bar or a Tim Horton’s coffee.  Shame.

5. The Tire “fee” – Just another “tax” that the Liberals brought in while in power.

6. I don’t blame just the Ontario Liberals for this one, I also blame the Federal Liberal party (or what’s left of it) but when the provincial HST merged with the federal GST, instead of firing all the provincial collectors, the Liberals thought it would be a good idea to given each collector a “severance package” of $45,000 each, then given them a job with the HST department. 

7. Caledonia – Still a hotbed of criminal activity where Natives and citizens are battling for space and peace and quiet.  Last time I heard from Caledonia, militant natives had blockaded the street and neither Police or RCMP were allowed to go in and break it up.  Dalton… Everyone has right here and the people of Caledonia deserve to live in peace and quiet.  Instead you turned your back on them instead of making tough decisions.

8. Under the Liberal party, University fees in Ontario have skyrocketed to the highest in Canada.

9. Don’t even talk about auto insurance in Ontario under the Liberals.  I remember the Liberals promising to reduce auto insurance rates by 10% to be fair to families, but you know what happened here… Insurance rates in Ontario have skyrocketed.

10. The Eco-Fee - You may not have heard much about this “fee / tax” because the Liberals snuck it in with the HST but this fee was supposed to cover the cost of disposing of items that needed to be recycled but instead it never got off the ground and has cost tax payers a ton of money.

11. Let’s look at the next few items as groups relating to green initiatives; Smart meters – time of use rates, Wind turbines, hydro rates. All colossal failures. Smart meters work for my family because we do our laundry, use the dishwasher, etc. after 7pm to get the lowest rate and we have seen the benefit but from what I understand there are some people, like seniors who cannot wait for the reduced rates and them – on fixed incomes – have their energy rates go up (and HST on it too). Wind turbines, on the other hand, were an epic failure. There were grants given out for them that were much higher than the expected rate of return, they are unsafe and noisy.

12. The Federal Liberal Party was decimated. Ontario is next. The Conservatives care about your money and the NDP are just plain entertaining. That leaves no room for the Libs… Well, that and former Ontario Premier Bob Rae is their interim leader for the next 2 years. I shudder when I think about how bad the province was after Bob was forced out.

13. Sheer arrogance. I’ve heard the moniker “Teflon Dalton” go by and I think he actually believes he is unbeatable… I think the Federal Liberals felt that way too as did the Liberal who ran for mayor, George Smitherman.  Their time is up.  Time for a change.