Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Hennig states the obvious

But what's sad is that it needed to be said.

On the surface, Strathcona County’s mayor earns $96,200 and its councillors collect $53,500.

But one-third of their salary is tax-free.When you factor in that tax break, the salaries jump to $113,755 for the mayor and $61,886 for councillors.

The Alberta chapter of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is calling attention to the practice of taxing municipal officials on two-thirds of their salary. It’s a break afforded to MLAs as well.

Politicians should not be granted special status,” said Scott Hennig, the Alberta director of the CTF.

“They’re supposed to be representative of the people but the people don’t get to claim one-third of their income tax-free. It seems patently unfair.”


maryjane said...

But let's get this straight, you have no problem with the special status afforded dividends, capital gains and income trusts?

Shawn said...

those are not directed at any specific group of people. Any person can purchase these financial vehicles. Not everyone can be a politico.

maryjane said...

Theoretically that's true but theoretically anybody can winter in the south of France so maybe that should be subsidized. Income is income and should be treated as such. And of course anybody can run for office.

Anonymous said...

Your comparison is utterly enrelated to the matter at hand. The idea that one class of people should be treated differently by the tax system becuase of their job is absurd. What's next, no taxes for union bosses? Politician's wages should be subject to the same tax scale as any other person.

Anyone can run for office, but not everyone can win. Do you understand the concept of "fair"? It doesn't mean different rules for different people. It means same rules for everyone, may everyone do their best with that. Hopefully that simplifies it enough.

Shawn said...

OOps, I'm the anon poster above.

PS why the hostility towards long-term savings vehicles?? Don't like anything that helps keep people more than a paycheck away from welfare?

maryjane said...

shawn...The idea that income derived from the sweat of one's brow should be treated differently by the tax system than income derived from sitting on one's arse, using money to make money is absurd. Income should be subject to the same tax scale as any other income. That is fair.I'm hostile towards unfairness in the tax system. Robbing Peter's paycheck to inhance Paul's is a false economy. Sitting on his arse Paul pays less because working stiff Peter pays more.

Scott Hennig said...

Uh, I'm also very confused by the first comment...

How did income trusts get dragged into a debate (if there even is much of a debate) at to whether elected officials should be allowed to not pay taxes on a third of their income?

That being said, the CTF did support the move to lower the dividend tax rate to keep it in line with the income trust tax rate so that companies weren't making the decision to become an income trust simply for the tax advantage.

But I'm not sure that answers your question.

Thanks for visiting the blog though!

maryjane said...

Hennig... To clarify: The CTF is against special status, unless they're for it, as they are against subsudies, unless they're for them.

Scott Hennig said...

Hmmm, I'm not sure why you would make that assumption.

I'm not aware of any subsidies that we are in favour to elaborate? Any examples?

As for the so-called "special status" of capital gains, we think that all Canadians should be subject to the same laws. And other than elected officials (the intent of the original post) they are.

using money to make money is absurd Now that's amusing.

maryjane said...

scott... I suppose anything taken out of context can be amusing. Any economic activity, whether from labour or from "investment" should be subject to the same rate of tax.

You're not aware of any subsidies? Example? How about small government voting, CTF supporting Agriculture.

maryjane said...

Thought so.

Scott Hennig said...

Sorry, I'm not sure I'm following...

"small government voting", I don't even know what you are trying to get at...that we're in favour of smaller government, yes of course we are. I'm not aware of a time when the CTF supported bigger government or larger bureaucracies.

"CTF supporting Agriculture", um...sure, I guess we all enjoy to eat if that is what you mean, and I have seen on occasion a CTF director purchase product a beef, chicken, wheat or barley product. So if that qualifies us as "supporting Agriculture" I guess you are right.

If you are suggesting that the CTF has called for an increase in agricultural subsidy programs, I think you're way off base.

At times we might raise the plight of a sector of the population to advocate broad based tax cuts, but it's only to help advocate the overall message. And it's not limited to one sector.

I can recall the CTF suggesting that the plight of farmers would be a good reason to lower taxes. I can recall the CTF suggesting the plight of drivers a good reason to lower fuel taxes and reform auto insurance. I can recall the CTF suggesting the plight of small businesses as a reason to lower business taxes. And I can recall the CTF suggesting the plight of low income individuals as a reason to eliminate health care premiums and increase the premium relief threshold.

But again, these examples are used to further our argument that taxes should be reduced, not that the government provide subsidies.

But I have been wrong before, so feel free to visit our website at, we have hundreds upon hundreds of press releases, op-eds and commentaries over the past many years.

If you can find any evidence of the CTF calling for sector-specific gov't subsidies (and not tax cuts that help everyone), please feel free to share it here on our blog.

maryjane said...

scott hennig...If you're really that thick, I'll type real slow.
Farmers vote for the Conservative Party and the Sask. Party. David Maclean has admitted many CTF "donors" are farmers. The Conservatives, the Sask. party, and the CTF never tire of preaching the the virtues of small government and lower taxes. Farmers never tire of demanding more and more subsidies, more and more socialism for themselves while expecting others to live by the hard disipline of the free market. While you have much to say about the one billion spent on the gun registry over 10 yrs., one is deafened by your silence about the 50 billion plus poured down the ag subsidy sink hole over the same period. This is not buying a chicken to support agriculture, this is support of agricultural SUBSIDIES. This is supporting HIGHER taxes to support ag subsidies. This means you are not credible, your organization is not credible , all your criticisms are not credible. Playing dumb is never going to change that.

David MacLean said...

wow maryjane, you certainly spend a lot of time trying to convince the CTF that we are not credible. We're obviously creditible enough to get you out of bed in the morning.

maryjane said...

Let's see, David, you claim to be against subsidies, yet you are in favor of huge subsidies for your "supporters" in agriculture. You are in favor of subsidizing right-wing spin tanks like the Fraser Institute.
You claim you are "Fighting for Taxpayers" yet you favor higher taxes for working Canadians to subsidize the preferential tax treatment of so called "investment" income, as if working people don't make an investment of their time and sweat and energy when they go out and do their jobs. You favor higher taxes for working people to subsidize your friends in the Fraser Institute and on the farm.

And you still need convincing of your lack of credibility? Maybe you are that thick.

Scott Hennig said...

Apparently I must be thick, because I'm still waiting for you to produce one document that says that the CTF supports subsidies.

Just one.

Your faulty logic of "some CTF supporters are farmers, so you guys must support subsidies" just isn't washing.

I know one of our supporters builds fire engines for a living, but just because he supports us doesn't mean that we're all of a sudden in support of subsidies to fire engine manufactures.

And I have no idea where you get the idea that we support subsidizing the Fraser Institute.

Granted, they're a very good think-tank and produce some good work that I occasionally cite, but I don't recall the CTF saying that we think the government should be subsidizing them.

Again, please produce just one document from the CTF that says otherwise. Because I’ve been wrong before.

I'll continue to wait...

maryjane said...

Mr. Hennig...There is no document I can produce because your support of farm subsidies is tacit. In all the years your organization has existed we have had alphabets of farm programs with their attendant multi-billion dollar handouts come and go.

If fire truck manufacturers were subsidized $5 billion yearly, you'd have plenty to say, especially if they were unionized. If those manufacturers paid income tax at an on average rate of 10%, for no other reason than their status as firetruck manufacturers, while the rate for the rest of the population paid tax at 16-18%, the CTF would have plenty to say. If those unionized firetruck workers were given a 10% discount on their gov't. auto insurance, you'd never shut up about it. Now if this were the case and many CTF donors were firetruck manufacturers, and you were deafeningly silent on the issue of firetruck subsidies, and you presented yourself as against subsidies, you're credibility would non-existent.
And that's the point. The CTF is very selective in what you criticise. The logical conclusion is that what you willfully exclude from criticism, you support. So I put it to you, produce a document in which the CTF has criticised farm subsidies.

Scott Hennig said...

So, by your logic anything we don't criticize, we must therefore support.


I have a feeling you must work for a negative-option-biller of some sort.

"Mr. Hennig, you didn't send back our magazine immediately, explicitly saying that you didn't want to receive Cat Fancy on a bi-weekly basis, so we have to assume you are a huge fan and now owe us $150 for those issues you must obviously have read cover to cover and enjoyed"

We try to be clear about what the CTF supports and what we don't support. That is why we have a website with archives. That is why we publish a magazine that can be found in many libraries with back issues.

The CTF is against any corporate welfare, and any government subsidies of any industry. But, admittedly, we don't attack every issue all of the time, we pick and chose areas of focus. We're not a single issue organization. We don't only focus on...say...gas taxes every waking moment of every single day. We have priorities and areas of focus upon which we attempt to affect change.

Are there areas we would like to explore more fully? Sure. There's a new gravel levy here in Alberta that I would love to research and potentially take on, but we have other higher priorities in Alberta and time has not allowed me to research it. Therefore, I have not yet criticised the gravel levy, but that doesn't mean that the CTF is in favour of it.

By your logic because the CTF hasn’t come out against the gravel levy, we’re in favour of industry specific taxes and subsidizing non-gravel using industries.

And just for the record, I do love cats, but couldn't imagine reading a whole magazine about them...

maryjane said...

nice try, hennig, but that line of bull just don't cut it.
Here in SK agricultural subsidies have accounted for, since the inception of your organization (1990 if memory serves) from 5-10% of the provincial budget. In each of the last two years every man, woman and child in SK has contributed $600.00 to farm subsidies. Agriculture ranks only behind health, education, social services and debt financing in provincial spending. And your pathetic excuse is that in 16 yrs. you just haven't gotten around to it. We've spent $1-2 billion on the gun registry over 10 yrs. You've found lots of time to devote to that issue. But $50 billion plus over the same period just kinda slipped your mind? Please. Ag subsidies are on the same plane as some obscure gravel levy in Alberta? I mean who are you trying to kid?
"we don't attack every issue all the time, we pick and choose our areas of focus." But not to attack one dime out of tens of billions over a period of 16 yrs? The only logical conclusion one could draw is that, either the CTF is a proxy for the farm lobby, or you are totally incompetent as unbiased critics of government spending.

Scott Hennig said...

Still waiting for you to back up your argument that we support subsidies with one single ounce of real proof.

Just one.

It's not like the CTF is shy, we make comments all the time. There are thousands of articles on our website, tens of thousands of newspaper articles over the last decade. I'm not asking for you to produce 15 of them.

Just one real example.

maryjane said...

You claim to oppose ALL business subsidies. The onus is on YOU, buddy boy, to substantiate YOUR claims. If you haven't written word one against farm subsidies thus far, what's stopping you now? Put up or shut up.

Scott Hennig said...

The CTF is against special status, unless they're for it, as they are against subsudies (sic), unless they're for them.

These are your words, remember.

All I'm asking is for you to back this statement up with facts. Give me one example, just one.

I'm still waiting...

maryjane said...

From "Let's Talk Taxes" February 19, 2002. Richard Truscott CTF
Cut the Fat and Cut Taxes

" The CTF recently made some recommendations to Finance Minister Eric Cline regarding the upcoming provincial budget. Our main message is "It's Time to Tackle the Total Tax Take" By making the message alliterative, we hope to make it more memorable, because polititians often forget there is only "one taxpayer" when they make their plans.

How do we pay for this tax relief?

Set spending priorities. Reduce the budgets of all government departments (except the priority areas of Health, Education, Highways and AGRICULTURE.)"

So there you have it Scott, in your own words, for the CTF, Agricultural subsidies are a spending PRIORITY.

Scott Hennig said...

There you have it folks, bonafide proof that the CTF favours Agriculture subsidies. Not to mention: government run health care, a union-run education system, and large taxpayer subsidies of the highway paving industry.

Maryjane through (his/her) detective work has determined all of this because we said that the budgets of four government departments (health, education, highways, and agriculture) shouldn't be cut in 2002.

What a gift!

Next time on the blog...maryjane will prove that the CTF actually favours higher taxes, more government waste and less accountability.

Stay tuned.

maryjane said...

Well Scott, you asked for one, I gave you one. Your claim that "the CTF is against any corporate welfare, and any government subsidies of any industry." is a fiction.
And yes indeed you are in favor of higher taxes to pay for subsidies for your special interest "supporters."
You are for more government waste in as far as feeding the ever expanding culture of dependence that is agriculture has resulted in an industry that is moribund and infinitely needy.
These things are self-evident and require no proof. If you want to preach accountability, be accountable yourself and come clean as to who you claim to be and who you really are.

Anonymous said...

Just wait until you retire and discover that you are required to pay income tax on annuity payments from money you've already
pay income tax on.

Anonymous said...

" bonafide proof that the CTF favours Agriculture subsidies. Not to mention: government run healthcare, a union-run education system, and large taxpayer subsidies of the highway paving industry."

There is one big difference: hardly a day goes by when the CTF is not bashing the healthcare system, when you are not engaging in some diatribe against unions, when you are not calling for the privitization of everything that walks, crawls or moves. But nary a word about farm subsidies.

Maybe Maryjane is right, in a longwinded, inarticulate sort of way. Why don't you explain the double standard you employ in regard to agricultural subsidies, especially in light of the extra i.5 billion dollar pork announced in today's budget.

Maryjane said...


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