Wednesday, September 08, 2021

On false tax freedoms

The past few Canadian election cycles have seen plenty of discussion of the realities of tax-free savings accounts. And for the most part, their critics have been proven right: a scheme pitched at enabling savings by lower-income individuals has instead served mostly as a means of redirecting more free money to the already-rich. And in 2015, the Cons' doubling of existing TFSAs was rejected by voters. 

Which makes it striking that the Libs are now the ones pushing a TFSA scheme as part of their housing platform.

As Nick Falvo notes in his brief comment, there's an obvious danger that the Libs' plan - like other TFSA systems - will merely allow the wealthy to drain money from federal coffers, while accomplishing little for the people who are supposed to benefit (but who don't have spare money to stash away in the first place). And the Libs' throwaway line about including "integrity measures to deter tax avoidance" rings entirely hollow coming from the same party trying to criticize the NDP's plan for a more progressive tax system based on the claim that better tax enforcement isn't possible. 

As is the case in so many policy areas, voters will need to choose between policies which actually address the right to housing, and ones which serve only to inflate the wealth of existing homeowners and people with money to burn. And it's especially damning that the Libs are so bereft of ideas as to be copying from the Harper playbook toward the latter end.

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