The number of taxpayers depends on which level of government is spending the money, and that makes a big difference in how much a given project will cost you.
By Ryan McGreal
Published April 05, 2017
We've all heard the line, "There is only one taxpayer."
This statement is objectively false. You are only one taxpayer, but your own share of public spending depends on which level of government is spending the money.
If there's a public spending project and it is being funded by the City of Hamilton, the cost for that project is divided among the 235,000 Hamilton residences that pay property tax.
But if the public spending project is being funded by the Provincial Government, the cost is divided among 7,000,000 employed Ontarians who pay provincial income tax (not to mention everyone who pays sales tax and various other taxes and fees.)
Now ask yourself: if you as a taxpayer are expected to pay a share of a public expenditure, would you rather that your share be 1/235,000 of the total or 1/7,000,000 of the total?
Let's say, just for the sake of argument, that we're talking about a public expenditure of $80 million for the replacement of aging municipal infrastructure - roadway, water lines, sewer lines and so on.
This kind of work is usually the responsibility of the City, and if you have to pay for it as a taxpayer of the City of Hamilton, your share is $340.42.
Now let's say that for some crazy reason, the Province offers to pick up the full cost of this municipal infrastructure replacement. In that case, you are helping to pay for it as a Provincial taxpayer and your share is just $11.43.
So the number of taxpayers depends on which level of government is spending the money, and that makes a big difference in how much a given project will cost you.
Is there anyone who would rather be on the hook for $340.42 than $11.43? If so, I'd love to hear your reasoning.
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