Thursday, March 15, 2012

Press Release – March 13, 2012 – Immediate release

Guest Professor: Dr. Ross Hickey - “What’s Good about Taxes?”

150 people occupied the Schubert centre to hear UBCO economics professor, Dr. Ross Hickey, present strategies for fair taxation.

“The very rich have been getting very richer over the past 30 years”, he said. “At the same time, their tax rates have dropped from 43% in 1981 to just 29% today.” Their share of income is at pre-depression levels of the 1930s.

Incomes of the top 100 CEOs in Canada increased 27% in one year from 2009 to 2010. Incomes of the average Canadian worker rose a mere 1.1% in the same period. “That’s bad for equity and bad for growth” Dr. Hickey stated.

“Failure to reverse this trend will lead to greater crime, social unrest, & public insecurity. Furthermore, there is no relation between our economic productivity and low tax rates”, he said. “An unfair tax system is unproductive.”

But it’s not enough to target a few high priced CEOs, Professor Hickey maintains. To spread the tax burden fairly, Professor Hickey recommends broadening the tax base on consumer items. “This may seem unpopular but it will capture more revenue from big spenders. However, it will only work”, he warned, “if the increased burden on the poor is offset by substantial increase in transfers to low income earners. At the present time, government transfers & tax credits for things like home purchase and renovations largely benefit high earners. The poor can’t buy into those”.

“The average total rate of all federal, provincial & municipal taxes combined is 40% for those earning above $30,000. For those earning below $30,000, it’s 80%. We know that income is related to success in education, which is related to employment. Over taxing the poor disables them from getting a good education; it leads to poor health, poor social outcomes, and poor labour skills that cost society more in the long run”, he said.

“Canada’s measure of inequality after paying taxes is much worse than the UK and Sweden”, Dr. Hickey noted, “even though it’s quite similar before taxes. Their tax system encourages equity. Coincidentally, their productivity is higher and their measures of social wellbeing are higher.”

Dr. Hickey also recommends returning to a more progressive tax system. “We must create more tax brackets with higher tax rates for higher incomes. We don’t want to discourage people from working but we do want to have a system that is fair and provides sufficient revenue for education, health care, housing, day care & other social programs.” Critics argue that higher taxes will encourage the rich to move away. While that may happen in a few cases, Professor Hickey states that the rich are not as mobile as critics suggest. “Besides, they also appreciate the good things that good taxes provide”.

“Taxpayers must tell politicians they want a fair tax system”, he said. “They must stop saying taxes are bad. Taxes are the price of a productive, civil society. Taxpayers must insist on a fair price”. 

UBC Professor Dr. John Janmaat will be the next GUEST PROFESSOR hosted by the Green Party. He will speak on the economic & ecological costs of pipelines and how to extract sustainability from finite resources.

Hear Professor Janmaat @ 7:00 pm Monday, April 2nd, at Vernon’s Schubert Centre 3505 30th Ave.

 Contact: Greig Crockett, 250-260-5877;


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I have been a resident of Coldstream since 1976. I have had 15 years of experience on Council, 3 years as Mayor. As a current Councillor I am working to achieve fair water and sewer rates and to ensure that taxpayers get fair treatment. The current direction regarding water supply is unsustainable and I am doing all I can to get the most cost effective water supply possible.