Our View: The price we have to pay

If you’re like many Canadians, you spent much of the last weekend of Aprilsurrounded by boxes and folders of paperwork and receipts.

If you’re like many Canadians, you spent much of the last weekend of April hunched in front of your home computer, or over your kitchen table, surrounded by boxes and folders of paperwork and receipts.

Monday, April 30, at midnight was the deadline to file 2011 income tax returns.

Not the best way to spend the last weekend of April—even with the cool cloudy weather—although there will be a payoff, if you’re expecting a refund.

About two-thirds of Canadians who file a return will get money back, on average about $1,500. Another 21 per cent will have already paid from deductions the exact amount of taxes they owe, and 12 per cent will have to pay more.

And while it sometimes feels like the various levels of government are always dipping their fingers into our back pockets to extract ever more of our hard-earned dollars, Canadians aren’t as tax-burdened as we like to think. Total taxes, including income, sales, corporate, property and other taxes, account for 31 per cent of Canada’s economy.

That’s almost three per cent less than the average for other industrialized countries that comprise the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In France, Finland, Austria, Norway, Belgium, Italy, Sweden and Denmark, taxes add up to 42 to 48 per cent of their economies.

Sure, Americans pay less tax than Canadians, but we don’t have to pull out our credit cards every time we visit the doctor or get an x-ray at the hospital.

The people of Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland also pay less tax, but given the financial crises crippling their economies, that’s unlikely to last. So as you await your refund, or the cheque you had to write to clear, consider it the price we pay for living in a stable, reliable country.

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