Peter’s Taxing Taxes Task

Well, I just lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I sent in my taxes. Now, I hear you say that you have already done that and you’re disappointed because you had hoped for something entertaining and informative from my column this week, for a change. 

Ahh, but Loyal Reader, while you have filed your own taxes, have you ever filed 6 years at one time? I have, in fact I just did. Let me give you some background on Mrs Montreuil’s little boy and his adventures with Revenue Canada/ Canada Revenue Agency. You may find it interesting, it might simply awaken the “schauenfreud” in your soul. You may even find it amusing. In any case, here we go….

I have been faithfully filing my taxes for a long time, and I consider it a vital part of being a good citizen. Years ago I was in a relationship with a woman who had expensive tastes and an aversion to work. So it was that I found myself working 2 fulltime jobs to keep her happy, one of them obtained through an agency. I worked these two fulltime jobs for a year. Of course, I was much younger, but it still affected my health. When the “agency” position ended, I told her that I had bad news, that I had lost one of my two fulltime jobs. Far from being sympathetic or understanding, she said that I could just find another fulltime job. Ruminating on this particular statement, I suddenly realized that I was giving a lot more than I was getting in this particular situation, so I severed our connection.

I found myself in a Revenue Canada office a few years later, dealing with an impressive outstanding unpaid tax balance from that one year. The RC officer looked at my file and noticed that I worked for “Unemployment Insurance” (sic). a) He mentioned that his wife had applied for benefits, but her claim had had “complications”, which resulted in quite the delay in payment for her. Sitting on the other side of the desk for a change, my insides turned to water. He flashed a smile which reminded me of “…Satan watching parsons roasting on the coals of Hell…”b)

Loyal Reader, I don’t remember the rest of the day, but the situation was finally resolved after many post dated cheques, letters and phone calls.

Bringing you up to date, I sent in fully 6 years of income tax returns today. My situation is complicated by the fact that I need to prove that I am entitled to deduct support payments from my income. I  retired in 2016, and the year previous the payroll system had changed at work. Many of my coworkers went a long time without being paid. In my case I was paid…and paid…and paid. So deductions are being taken from my superannuation to recover the debt, which is only fair. Anyway, my returns are complicated. I have been assisted by a very helpful CRA employee, who has lowered the anxiety level in my life, as Betty will attest. I am appreciative of their assistance and will forward my comments to the appropriate people. As an aside, earlier during our telephone conversation yesterday, they mentioned that they were always worried about complaints about them from the public. I laughed and told them that I had once been named in a Ministerial Enquiry c). They were suitably impressed. 

So I guess that after all this, you think that I hate paying taxes. Loyal Reader, nothing could be further from the truth. 

Just as good manners are the lubricant of Society, tax monies are the fuel that makes Society function. Our tax dollars provide for a national broadcaster, a common defence, border security, a network of consulates and embassies which spans the globe, social programs which allow people to enjoy a dignified retirement and so very much more. My taxes also provide for  cultural exchange programs and contributions to humanitarian programs coordinated by the United Nations and the World Health Organization, and that is only the federal component.

Provincially, my tax money helps fund education and organizations which protect our precious natural resources and roads and watch over the safety and wellbeing of animals, again along with many other important aspects of our daily life, such as labour laws which physically protect workers on the job as well as ensuring that their wages and working conditions are regulated to lessen the risk of exploitation by an unscrupulous employer. In a perfect world, these organizations and legislative safeguards would not be required, of course.

And municipally, my taxes help provide garbage collection and firefighters and social services to help those in need. They fund breakfast programs, as studies have shown that kids tend to be able to learn better when they have had a nourishing breakfast. Should we, as a society, ever focus on “spreading the wealth” and ensuring that workers are paid a “thriving wage” rather than the miserable pay rates which have become the default settings for most jobs, it is my belief that a lot of the problems and unrest which we have to deal with now would vanish. If you pay better, fairer, wages you will go a long way towards vanquishing child hunger.

If we, as a society, concentrated on a more equitable distribution of the enormous amount of money flowing through our financial system, rather than giving an obscenely large percentage of it to a small percentage of us, there is no doubt in my mind that we could do great things! But as I am wandering off track, I will return to my taxes and the good things that they do. They help fund afterschool programs where kids can discover the wonderful gifts that they have in arts and athletics, where they can have the opportunity to learn about themselves and others. These programs contribute to the mental health of the community as a whole.

Yes, there are so many great things that my taxes can do, so I am happy to pay them. Now, Loyal Reader, you may note that many of the benefits which my taxes bestow on the community do not directly benefit me. For example, it doesn’t have to concern me if a child goes to school hungry. Nor does it really have to matter to me if a third world village has a medical team funded, at least in part by the Canadian government, visit it.

Except that I believe that we should be building a better world for everyone, not just those blessed by “an accident of birth”. I try to surround myself with like minded people, and here we are  😉 . I mentioned that my taxes do a lot of good. Well, I will let you in on a little secret. They aren’t just my taxes. They are everyone’s taxes, pooled together. You see, when we put our resources together and concentrate, we, as a society can do great things. 

I was going to write about how much I detest politicians braying about how much money they are putting into people’s pockets by tax cuts. However, the subject does tend to raise both my blood pressure and my voice, and as Betty is asleep in the next room as I write, I am going to opt for the safe play.

See you soon. 

a) At the time, I worked for Canada Employment, but saw no future in being pedantic by pointing out his obvious mistake.

b) Credit to the original author. Very apt, under the circumstances, by the way. 

c) The absolute highest priority enquiry it is possible to receive in a local office  😉 .

=PJM=

A confirmed Cat person, Peter dabbled with being a water boy, a paper boy and an altar boy before finally settling on a career with the Canadian federal government.  Once, in his youth, he ate a Dutch  oven full of mashed potatoes to win a 5 cent bet with his beloved sister Mary’s boyfriend. (Of course he was much younger and a nickel went a lot farther!))

He has retired to palatial “Chez Montreuil”, which he shares with his little buddy CoCo the Fashionable. He is blessed to have the beautiful Betty in his life. He is not only a plastic aircraft modeller, but a proud “rivet counter”. Military aviation and live music are among other interests of his, and he tries to get out to as many shows as he can. He will be here for your enlightenment whenever the stars align. Profile photo courtesy of Pat Blythe, caricature courtesy of Peter Mossman.

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