Friday, February 10, 2006

A Frugal Focus Letter To Parliament

This afternoon I happened across the weblog of Garth Turner, (my) Member of Parliament via a link in the Toronto Star. While I can appreciate the level of transparency and grassroots participation Mr. Turner is trying to offer his constituents, with respect to his very public criticism of some appointments to the new cabinet, we all know that, like any other job, sensitivity to 'company politics' can certainly help achieve one's aims (especially in, um, politics). Though I agree with Mr. Turner's position, pulling a CLM* on one's first day on the job doesn't bode well for his effectiveness in addressing the same constituency concerns he is earnestly soliciting.

That being said, I read with piqued interest some of the points of his proposed, private member's Middle Class Act, namely:
  • Single-income families where one spouse stays home with a child should be able to split income and drop to a lower tax bracket. Retired couples with one person on a pension and the other with little or no income should be able to do the same
  • Better encouragements for people to save for retirement, with RRSPs for stay-at-home spouses
  • A lifetime retirement savings plan in after-tax dollars.
  • The ability to deduct a portion of rising property taxes from family income, to stifle the impact of this tax on unrealized capital gains
  • A family tax return, treating families as economic units
(For our American friends reading this, private members bills rarely, if ever, succeed.)

As a response to the input he was soliciting, I sent Mr Turner the following letter this evening:
February 10, 2006

Dear Mr. Turner:

As one of your new constituents I wanted to express my support for the grassroots approach you are taking in ensuring better transparency in your representation of the Halton community. I found your weblog this afternoon via the Toronto Star and wanted to offer my input, for what its worth, to your Middle Class Act proposal.

Last year, income taxes and statutory deductions were my single highest expense, more so even than the costs I incurred to pay my mortgage and feed a family of four, combined. While I understand it would be contrary to your platform, I have to voice my support for the tax reduction and increase to federal personal amounts announced in the fiscal update of November 2005 by the former government. As an example, in order to enjoy the same relief of $379 this presently offers at source, I would have to spend $37,900 to enjoy a similar gain via the proposed 1% reduction in the GST. Where I do see the GST is clearly problematic is with regard to the double taxation on gasoline. An elimination of this punitive anomaly would certainly have my support.

That aside, I also appreciate a number of the suggestions you make in order to more fairly tax single wage earning families. To this end I can appreciate the $1200 child allowance, and your suggestion of better integration of multiple earners for treatment as a single family ‘economic unit’. As I’m also concerned about the affect of rising property assessments in the area, (particularly where the assessment process is opaque, confusing, and appeals are mired in bureaucracy) I would also support your proposal to allow a portion of property tax increases to be deducted.

I look forward to participating in the town-hall discussions you have planned. Again, thank you for providing the opportunity to voice my opinions.
Needless to say I am looking forward to his response.

* Career Limiting Move

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