COLUMN: Boutique tax credits are bad social engineering policy

MORRISBURG — The federal Conservative party has been releasing a policy plank per day in this long (too long) election campaign. A number of these policy planks are small tax credits given to a specific group or niche target audience for doing something. These boutique tax credits, as they are called, are not just bad fiscal policy, they are bad social engineering policy.

On the fiscal side, these tax credits complicate the tax code to no end. For every credit, there are a myriad of rules and regulations to follow. This creates more paperwork and bureaucracy within the government. It makes it more difficult and time consuming for people to file their taxes as well. Both of these things cost the government (us) money to do and for what financial benefit? Receiving 10 per cent back on your child’s $40.00 soccer registration? Four dollars! How much does that bureaucracy cost to give parents back four dollars? What is the cost to the government for the churn to credit a portion of a student’s school books, taking the bus, or buying your tools if you are a tradesperson? Is there a net financial benefit to these boutique tax credits and is it fair to those who do not qualify? No it is not. For example, how fair is it that one person will get a portion of their bus pass back, when someone else lives in an area with no public transit and must drive everywhere? It is not a fair tax system.

The real kicker is the social engineering involved with these tax credits. Rewarding people for doing certain things that conform with the precepts or policies of the government is wrong. Parents should put their kids into sports and other activities, not because the government told them so, but because it is good for kids to be active and social. Tradespeople need to purchase their tools to be able to work. A plumber is not going to refuse to work because the government didn’t give them a five per cent tax credit on their tools. Students in college or university are not going to refuse to learn, because the government wont refund a fraction of the cost of their school books. Is someone going to refuse to go to work because the government wont give them a tax credit for taking the bus? Sounds stupid right?

Government should not reward people for something they are suppose to do and this is the problem with social engineering taxation. Who sets what is acceptable for a credit and what is not? The party in power, in accordance their party platform and ideology. This is where the Conservatives go off the rails. Instead of lowering taxes evenly and fairly for all, they target niches. Other parties have other nonsense ideas, but when it comes using taxation to social engineer behaviour, the federal Conservatives win with the most left-wing, un-conservative (note the small ‘c’ there) plans out there.

Government should not reward people for things they are suppose to do, because government should not care. It is not government’s role, or a political party’s role, to decide what is acceptable social behaviour for how you work, learn or raise a family.

Boutique tax credits are a bad fiscal policy, and a worse social engineering policy. They need to be scrapped.

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