Quit Buying Our Behaviour with Our Own Money

Now good deeds are being rewarded with a blizzard of micro tax credits, brought to you by politicians hungry for your vote.

Jordan BatemanBritish Columbia Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation

 

“A good deed is its own reward,” the old saying goes. But not any more – now good deeds are being rewarded with a blizzard of micro tax credits, brought to you by politicians hungry for your vote.

Just how goofy are our leaders becoming? They’re now ripping off 1990s TV shows to generate new tax credit plans.

Richmond, Burnaby, Langley Township, and North Vancouver City are among the supporters of a plan to give private businesses tax credits for donating leftovers to the poor.

We blame TV’s Elaine Benes and Seinfeld for this cockamamie scheme. Back in 1997, Elaine had the idea for a store that sold only popped-off muffin tops and gave the leftover muffin “stumps” to a local homeless shelter.

Problems and hilarity ensued when the poor made it clear they didn’t want to get stuck with the stumps.

Or, as Jean Swanson of Vancouver’s Carnegie Community Action Project described the real-life tax credit-for-leftovers plan to The Vancouver Sun: “Giving garbage to the poor, what’s new about that? It is garbage, you know.”

Still, these politicians would have rewarded Elaine with tax credits, paid for by you and me, whether they helped the poor or not. That’s a tough muffin stump to swallow.

It’s great to help people, but this tax credit is unnecessary. The City of Richmond claims businesses can save up to 20 per cent of their operating costs by donating leftovers instead of paying to have them disposed of. If that’s the case, they don’t need more money from taxpayers to sweeten the deal. The economic case already exists.

Why do governments feel the need to bribe us – with our own money – into doing what we’re already doing?

There are tax credits for putting your kids in sports or music lessons, for volunteer firefighting, for taking a bus, for fixing up your kitchen, and for joining a search and rescue team. All worthy things, sure, but expensive for taxpayers.

And that doesn’t include millions of dollars spent on stupid ideas like B.C.’s Carrot Rewards, which hands out taxpayer-funded Air Miles to people who take a government health quiz. Or intrusive regulatory nonsense like mandating climate change warning labels on gas pumps.

Now we’re talking about a leftovers tax credit. Where will this trend end? If someone stops and helps a stranded motorist change a flat tire, should they get a tax deduction?  If you help a little old lady across the street, is that worth $10 off your next tax bill? Why no tax credit for composting? Why no credit for kids who learn to computer code or tie their shoelaces? Why no breaks for teenagers who keep their pants pulled up or wear their hats properly or don’t shriek when Justin Bieber appears in public?

These tax credits are simply callous political efforts to buy votes with our money. “They’re targeted vote-getting initiatives,” former Conservative strategist Tim Powers explained. “They’ll appeal to different groups of people and the hope is that these people in return for tax breaks will give the political parties the support they’re looking for.”

Imagine that: politicians using our tax code – all 3,206 pages of it – to try and gain votes.

If politicians want to do a truly good deed they should simplify and lower our taxes so that we have more time and money to give to good causes.

 

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