Social Benefits and Economic Costs of Taxation

Posted on February 15, 2009 in Governance Debates, Social Security Debates – listserve – Social Benefits and Economic Costs of Taxation – and please take our new poll
February 15, 2009.   Rob Rainer <>

If you pay taxes, would you be willing to pay a higher amount each year if you were confident it would contribute to the elimination of poverty and to greater social security for all Canadians?  That’s the question for our new poll on our web site ( then go to “Take Our Poll”). We’re posing it because while more official polls show that a strong majority of Canadians want to see government action on poverty, they also suggest a strong majority of Canadians seem to support tax cuts in government budgets.  These two desires are likely irreconcilable.  Tax cuts by definition reduce government revenue.  Social security by definition requires public investment.  The challenge, then, is to ensure fair and sufficient taxation that properly supports social security and other public investment ends.

In late 2006 the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives published a fascinating study by taxation experts Neil Brooks and Thaddeus Hwong.  In The Social Benefits and Economic Costs of Taxation, Brooks and Hwong compared the higher-tax Nordic countries to the lower-tax Anglo countries.  They found that the higher tax countries had stronger social and economic performance with respect to a wide range of indicators.  As Thaddeus Hwong noted, “not only do government social programs create a healthier society, they also create the conditions for a vibrant—and competitive—economy.”  Learn more about and download this important study:

Rob Rainer
Executive Director/directeur général
Canada Without Poverty / Canada sans pauvreté
(Formally the National Anti-Poverty Organization)
(Officiellement l’Organisation nationale anti-pauvreté)
1210 – 1 rue Nicholas Street
Ottawa ON K1N 7B7 Canada
613-789-0096 (1-800-810-1076)
613-244-5777 (fax);

Combating poverty, deprivation and exclusion is not a matter of charity, and it does not depend on how rich a country is.  By tackling poverty as a matter of human rights obligation, the world will have a better chance of abolishing this scourge in our lifetime.  Poverty eradication is an achievable goal.
Louise Arbour, former Supreme Court of Canada Justice and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, on the occasion of International Human Rights Day 2006

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