What if we were taxed like Albertans?
The question is purely hypothetical, but nonetheless, by seeking the answer, it allows us to measure in a different light the tax burden weighing on the shoulders of Quebec taxpayers.
I will not make you languish, the answer is already ready: individuals in the Belle Province would pay nearly $ 29 billion (B $) in less taxes if we implemented the Alberta tax system here.
Here is a large number likely to excite the envy of libertarians. But it doesn’t tell the whole story.
The heaviest taxes
This figure comes from a study carried out by Julie S. Gosselin and Luc Godbout, from the Research Chair in Taxation and Public Finance (CFFP) at the University of Sherbrooke.
What would it do if we taxed Quebeckers like Ontarians, Manitobans, and others? This is the question posed by the two experts who evaluated the effect of applying to Quebec the tax structure of the nine other Canadian provinces.
I gave you the results of the comparison with Alberta right off the bat. It is most striking, in particular because of the absence of sales taxes there.
The table on the page gives the overall picture. What these figures reveal is that the Government of Quebec is taking more money from the pockets of individuals than anywhere else. They indicate what we would pay less (or more), if we were subject to the tax regime of neighbors. As you can see, a distinction is made between income tax, consumption taxes and social contributions.
In the process, however, part of this money is redistributed in the form of refundable tax credits and family allowances (left part of the table). This transfer causes the net gap to narrow; it is even reversed with the Atlantic provinces, with the exception of New Brunswick.
More services in Quebec
All the same, a significant gap persists between Quebec and Alberta ($ 23 billion), British Columbia ($ 14.6 billion), Saskatchewan ($ 10.4 billion) and our neighbors in Ontario ( $ 10.2 billion).
On the other hand, as the authors of the study point out, Quebecers are entitled in return to more services.
Here, there are subsidized daycare centers, drug insurance, the Quebec parental insurance plan and lower tuition fees. Quebec has also chosen to keep its electricity rates as low as possible.
Does that explain everything?
Luc Godbout agrees, stressing for example the fact that in Alberta, the population is younger. A younger company generates more tax revenue while costing less in services.
We should study the differences in productivity, there is certainly part of the explanation, but academics have not taken their analysis that far.
In the end, by applying the Alberta tax structure here, Quebecers would not necessarily end up with $ 23 billion net in their pocket, they would have to pay more for drugs, child care, etc.
While we’re at it, let’s stay in Alberta. Note that oil revenues have largely helped to save the wallet of individuals. In this regard, things are not going to be for the best. One day it will have to dig into the pockets of consumers with the help of a tax.
A widening gap
We can therefore console ourselves, but not too much anyway. The study shows that the tax burden of Quebeckers, compared to that of Canadians, is increasing. The gap has widened since 2010.
I really had the impression that we were paying less tax than before in Quebec, but tax increases, additional QPP contributions and the implementation of the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan, among others, have increased in over the years the fiscal pressure exerted on Quebecers.
Despite the circumstances, we can understand Quebec’s reluctance to want to siphon more money from our pockets.
||Total gross deviation
||Total net deviation
|Newfoundland and Labrador
|Prince Edward Island