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Defining Tax "Hikes" and Tax "Freezes"
25/09/2003

There were dueling press releases today from the Ontario Liberals and PCs about whether or not Dalton McGuinty will be raising taxes.

The PCs say that:

The Taxpayer Protection Act says that cancelling legislated tax cuts on people is, by legal definition, a tax hike.

I guess there is some logic in this, in the sense that if a law has been passed calling for a future tax reduction, then a new law to cancel this reduction would be increasing the amount of taxes that people pay at some point in the future.

But really, this is just a game. Everyone knows precisely what Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals have promised to do. He said it repeatedly and clearly in the debate. He is cancelling tax cuts that the Tories had promised. People's taxes will not go down, but they won't go up, either. To accuse him of not telling the truth is a real stretch.

While the Taxpayer Protection Act may define a cancelled tax cut as an "increase", this does not mean that a Liberal government would be "raising your taxes" in the common understanding of the phrase. To the general public, the phrase "tax freeze" is a much better description -- a more honest description -- of what the Liberals are going to do than "tax hike", which is the phrase that the PCs want to pin on them.

Saying that there will be a "tax hike" suggests to most people that their taxes will be more than they currently are. I think this would be a dishonest description of the Ontario Liberal's policy. It is the PCs who are trying to mislead people.


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