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A taxing reality

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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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About Mia Rabson

Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.

Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.

She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.

Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.

Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.

In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.

She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.

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