A Money Coach in Canada

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Don’t all lunge at me at once. I’m not about to bend over for CRA or anything – I’m as aggressive as your next ave. joe canadian on my tax returns – but I gotta ask: when did we get such a hate-on for paying taxes?

Be honest: the #1 thing we all wanna know about The Budget is, “how much of a tax break are They giving, and who gets it, and am I on the losing end?”

But a bit of devil’s advocate here.

1. Isn’t the They actually Us? I mean we’re not conquered peoples (pardon –most of us aren’t) giving our money to Nero here. We’re a civilized country that’s collectively opted to build a society together, and pool our money to do so.

2. Specifically:

  • while Michael Moore was a bit optimistic about us, the fact remains most of us have confidence that if we need emergency care, we’ll get it (and for every horror story, I’ve heard stories of remarkable care provided by our health system, haven’t you?)
  • I got an amazing education for about $50K all told. I’m still annoyed that I had a $30K student debt but I also know that I cost the taxpayer about $350k – and so did you, if you got 4 years of education after high school.
  • Oh, and my grades 1-12 were paid by taxes.
  • And I don’t know where you walk, but I walk on reasonably kept sidewalks, and most cars stop for me by these efficient little red circles of light – sometimes I even get to push a button to make the cars stop!
  • And when something a little freaky happens in my neighbourhood I just push 3 buttons on my phone: 911 and help is on its way.
  • And I don’t personally want to help unemployed get employed, or personally provide refuge to kids whose parents have abandoned them, or the stray cats for that matter, but I’m sure glad they’re getting at least a baseline of help.

So I guess I wonder if we’re being a bit facile when we moan about our taxes. Wouldn’t our time be better spent asking questions like, “what kind of society do I want to live in?” and “how do I want my elected officials to allocate our pool of money?” and “how does Canada compare to other countries who handle taxes differently, and what do I make of those differences?”

Over to you:

are you bitter about the taxes you pay?

are we truly overtaxed here?

what would you give up by way of services in exchange for fewer taxes? Why?


About the Author

Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com


  1. anonymous

    I’m interested in seeing how the financial industry is going to respond to the new registered tax free savings account, which was the lead item in today’s federal budget. Why would I keep any savings in a regular bank account once this takes effect?

    It is strong message from the Government to save our money. Kind of counter culture…at least our current culture. And it’s going to be fun to watch the financial industry create all new product to entice me to keep my savings with a particular institution.

    To your post…I don’t think much about the tax I pay. Like you, I appreciate the benefits that come with living here. That said, I maximize my deductions. But think of the flip side…every time someone does a “cash” deal – usually on a service like a home repair – to avoid paying tax, those benefits we enjoy are short-changed, leaving the honest taxpayer to pick up the difference.

    Time for a tax-free sleep.


    Feb 26, 2008
  2. I appreciate too all the services we get in our great country. I almost never complain about taxes because I know what we get in return, health care being #1.

    As for the announcement yesterday about the tax free savings program, I’m very curious too about that. I’ll certainly try my hardest to have that $5,000 at the end of the year so I can place it into that sheltered account.


    Feb 27, 2008
  3. @anon & @canadiansaver – yeah, I’m intrigued too by the savings program. I’m getting up to speed on it, but I think it’s not purely about literally “savings” accounts, but rather, an alternative to RRSPs – the only difference will be that the original contribution is not a tax deduction.
    @anon – yup, you can be sure there will be all kinds of excitement in banks, although it will also create a LOT of admin, for little return.


    Feb 27, 2008
  4. Traciatim

    I’m with you Canadian Saver, though I probably won’t be able to get to 5K this year with my spouse just starting a business, I’ll try my hardest over the next few years to keep up with my TFSA. With politics there are two things that get heard, votes and dollars. If they see Canada is on board with the TFSA by increased savings rates then they will do more things like this in the future.

    Also, I don’t really complain about taxes except during my yearly bonus time which is usually around 1 month salary all at once. They do the tax calculation as if that’s your salary for the whole year so it looks like your in a way higher tax bracket at year end that you really will be. Sure it all comes out in the wash when you do your taxes the following spring, but it’s still a pain. The amount of tax I don’t complain much. Compared to a ton of people my family pays far less tax because of having two kids and two lower than median salaries.


    Feb 27, 2008
  5. I agree, love the country I live in and the services that we get. I don’t mind paying taxes because of the health care we get, the education system, and really overall how well off we are. Like the next person I do complain about HOW the money is spent sometimes, but overall two thumbs up 🙂


    Feb 27, 2008
  6. Nice positive take on it, Nancy. You’re right in that we tend to take our benefits for granted. I guess the issue is when we see government waste and inefficiency. Oh well, I guess it keeps people employed.


    Feb 27, 2008
  7. wow – I thought I’d get all kinds of taxes-are-evil commentary, and instead I discover we pf cdn bloggers are a fairly appreciative lot. (note to cra if you’re reading this: don’t take this as indication to take more!)
    @mariam – I hear you. Waste/inefficiency of our money is never good, but I don’t think the gov’t is any worse at that than, say, having to call up Rogers a million times about mistakes they make. I worked for the federal gov’t for 4 years when I was still young, and honestly, they were amazing – very dedicated, hard-working, creative. My sense is there’s a lot more of that inside the gov’t than waste. (I’m hoping, anyway)


    Feb 28, 2008
  8. I’m also okay with paying taxes. It’s incredibly important to me that Canada remain a country where there is access and excellence in healthcare, education and many other areas.


    Feb 28, 2008
  9. @anon#1 – the other issue with cash deals is if something goes wrong, you have little recourse due to the obvious lack of a paper trail. Cash deals are a real pennywise/poundfoolish decision. 🙂

    The more you earn, the more taxes suck – but hey, who wants to be filthy rich but have to live in a gated community with armed guards because society has collapsed? There are perfectly good ‘selfish’ reasons for appreciating taxes. Of course, I myself and anyone else in this thread would never stand a chance of being elected president of the USA with these comments, but then, would we really want that? 😉

    Moving back to the TFSAs themselves, I was shocked by an article I read this morning – I think it was a Globe finance piece – which mentioned the idea of banks CHARGING FEES for letting you set up a TFSA with them.

    This very idea is so horrific I could just gag. Of course it also pointed out yet another way I’m sort of “young and naive” – that I wouldn’t instinctively think of such a cynical response to a Good Idea.

    I predict ING and similar banks will continue to offer their existing services but with a TFSA “flavour”. The big banks, on the other hand, will continue to be stingy with the interest rates, and are at highest risk of doing something silly like charging a fee. Hope they don’t, as it’s a shame if ING faces less competition.

    On a loosely related note, did anyone else notice that ING’s interest rates for ‘regular’ and RRSP GICs used to be identical, but are now slightly different?


    Mar 03, 2008
  10. @jamie – glad you’re on the same team 😉 and also, affectionate thought going to bascha (sp?) the cat.
    @krupo – I may have some insight into the ING rrsp thing (I work part time at citizens bank of canada – like ING but owned by a credit union) – I suspect they are doing that to attract money specifically into RRSPs. RRSP funds are attractive because they leave less easily – the hassle factor of filling out those forms. ugh. regarding tfsa’s, I anticipate a plethora of wonderful and rip-off if you read the fine print options. I hope you’ll do expose’s on your blog, hint hint?


    Mar 04, 2008
  11. I do intend to watch anybody trying to shaft me and people I care about like a hawk. 😉

    Your insights into the RRSP difference makes perfect sense. At least they limit it to a “positive” incentive.

    While writing my most recent post – http://krupo.ca/archive/2008/03/08/big-canadian-banks-why-do-your-interest-rates-suck-so-hard.aspx – I noticed that TD charges $50/$100 for RRSP transfers.

    Negative incentives?



    Mar 08, 2008

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