May 23, 2015


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Capital Chronicles

A taxing reality

Working on stories about the harmonized sales tax of late has led me to discover a number of interesting features of our tax system.

What we charge sales taxes on and what we don’t could fill a book, and trying to sort out the differences between provincial sales taxes and federal sales taxes can make one’s mind go all gooey.

I can understand exempting sales taxes from basic human necessities, like bread and milk. Why buying a plain croissant will cost you 12 per cent less in taxes than buying one drizzled with chocolate is beyond me. It’s not exactly that a plain croissant is a basic health food.

Not to mention that for health purposes we have things a bit backward – charging sales tax on single servings of items like chocolate milk or donuts, but allowing them to be sold tax free if you buy in bulk.

A two-litre carton of chocolate milk and a dozen donuts don’t get dinged with sales tax. " Load up on junk food if you want to avoid paying sales tax," isn’t exactly the kind of public health message governments should be sending.

But the one item on the list of things that is currently taxed by the federal GST but is exempt in Manitoba under the PST stuck out to me.

It’s an item than surely will get hit with PST if Manitoba ever decides to harmonize as well: Funeral services.

I know I’ve always been told the only two things in life that are absolute are death and taxes.

Apparently now we’re even taxing death.

 

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