Likely due to high housing prices, the mortgage debt of Canadians is rising – in a Moody’s report released on August 23, the ratings agency says people’s mortgage obligations are pushing consumer debt to unprecedented levels.
Yet, there’s another financial burden that weighs more on families.
A 2017 study by the Fraser Institute, referred to as the Canadian Consumer Tax Index, 2017 edition, finds the average Canadian family continues to spend more on taxes than housing, food and clothing combined. The index tracked the total tax bill of the average Canadian family from 1961 to 2016 and, it reveals that, including all types of taxes and accounting for inflation, the average tax bills of households have increased 157.6% since 1961, and 2,006% without inflation.
For 2016, the study says, the average Canadian family earned $83,105 and, out of that, paid $35,283 in total taxes. That compares to a combined total of $31,069 on housing (including rent and mortgage payments), food and clothing.
As such, in 2016, the average Canadian family paid nearly twice as much of their income in taxes (42.5%) as they did for housing (22.1%). In 1961 the average Canadian family spent much less on taxes (33.5%).
The index’s findings aren’t new: in 2015, the same annual index found the average Canadian family earned an income of $80,593 and paid total taxes equaling $34,154 (42.4% of their income), versus spending 37.6% of that income on necessities. In 2013 and 2014, families also paid more than $30,000 on taxes and, as a result, also dedicated less to food, clothing and shelter.
So how can you help? One way is to discuss families’ tax bills and needs prior to tax season, and as you revisit and adjust portfolios. Clients should be aware of tax news that might affect them, and of the credits and strategies that are available.
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The total tax bill as calculated by the Fraser Institute reflects all taxes that families pay to the federal, provincial and local governments including income, payroll, sales, property, carbon, health, fuel and alcohol taxes and more.
“Taxes help fund important public services that Canadians rely on,” it adds, “but the issue is the amount of taxes governments take compared to what Canadians get in return,” says Charles Lammam, director of fiscal studies at the Fraser Institute and co-author of the Canadian Consumer Tax Index. “With more than 42% of their income going to taxes, Canadians might ask whether they’re getting good value for their tax dollars.”