About That 'There Is Only One Taxpayer' Line

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.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By john1242 (registered) | Posted April 05, 2017 at 11:51:29

When I refer to one taxpayer i look at how my dollar is divided
Federal 54 cents Province 38 cents and Municipality 8 cents That's why Hamilton has to beg for funds for major project from Federal / Province Government This truth across Canada for Municipality When senior government down loads like eg Affordable Housing ;Transit ;Mental Health. How about lobbying Federal 48 cents;Province 34 cents and Municipality 18 cents to for services required by Citizens of Canada .

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By JasonL (registered) | Posted April 05, 2017 at 11:57:13

we actually have a sitting councillor on twitter telling TAXPAYERS who pay HIS salary that we would be foolish to take $700 million in infrastructure repairs from the province.

What does a "public servant" need to do in order to be removed from office? I would think not serving the public would suffice, no?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Deleted User (anonymous) | Posted April 05, 2017 at 20:45:09

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted April 06, 2017 at 08:22:09 in reply to Comment 121103

Anyone who recently bought a house has household debt at least 20x that amount. Nobody thinks that's wierd.

Permalink | Context

By Dylan (registered) | Posted April 06, 2017 at 07:11:15 in reply to Comment 121103

And the municipality of Hamilton accepting or rejecting LRT funding will have zero impact on that.

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

There are no upcoming events right now.
Why not post one?

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools