Updated: Jul 11
TAX IS BORING. MUST WE TALK ABOUT TAX?
I get it. For some, tax is a subject that causes a dull pain in the pocket region. For others, it's some kind of personal attack against their own hard work. Then, for those who harbour the belief that government should keep its sticky fingers out of everything, it's downright inflammatory. And for a lot of us, it's just plain boring. So why do we need to talk about tax?
Tax is the lifeblood of a thriving nation...
Taxes fund public goods and services such as hospitals, schools, roads, public transportation, and public safety. Underfunding public resources - in case you haven't noticed - has multiple severe impacts on the quality of life of a country's citizens.
Taxes play a significant role in promoting economic growth. The government uses tax revenue to invest in infrastructure, research and development, and education. These investments help create jobs, boost productivity, and stimulate economic growth.
Taxes reach toward social justice by redistributing wealth and resources. The government uses taxes to fund social welfare programs such as healthcare, education, and housing assistance. These programs help reduce poverty and inequality and provide a safety net for those in need.
Paying taxes fosters civic participation in our democracy. Contributing to the common good and investing in our society encourages us to become more engaged in our community and to hold government accountable.
OK sure. All of this is great. Really great. But what does it really mean?
At the daily 'lived experience' level, our tax system helps determine whether our children have access to the resources they need in schools and whether our teachers are stretched beyond their limits or supported to do their job well. Our tax system helps determine whether our loved ones have access to adequate medical care, how safe our roads are, whether we can look after our wildlife and environment, and whether the most vulnerable of us can put adequate food on the table or turn the heaters on when the weather gets cold.
At a deeper level, our tax system enhances or erodes the social bonds that keep us thriving. A system that allows for, and allocates, resource-poverty within time-stressed working-poor families, stressed communities with inadequate resources, and in the whole of society where widening rifts create more and more cracks for people to fall through is a tax system that is not doing its job.
Deeper still, a tax system that entrenches inequality for our most vulnerable members of society causes immeasurable harm. Hardship and poverty reach beyond the daily battle to provide for the bare essentials of food, shelter, clothing and warmth to mess with self-esteem and mental wellbeing. All children should grow up surrounded by strong communities, feeling valued by the society they were born into.
In a country that has more than enough for everybody, is it time to exercise our civic imagination for a just society where everybody can flourish?
So yeah. Tax is boring. But we must talk about tax.