Raise taxes to reduce inequality

Mike Moffatt argues we aren’t prepared to do what’s necessary to reduce inequality.

The obvious place to start would be to borrow solutions from countries where after-tax income inequality is relatively low. Three countries that consistently score well on income inequality measures are Denmark, Finland and Sweden. These three Nordic countries share very similar tax structures, featuring moderate-to-low marginal corporate tax rates, moderate-to-high income tax rates and very high value added sales tax rates (VATs, similar to Ontario’s HST). The average VAT in these three countries is 25 per cent, a rate nearly twice that of the average Canadian federal GST plus provincial sales tax or HST. A one percentage point increase in the HST alone would raise $5 billion to $6 billion per year for the federal government, so increases by a few percentage points could adequately fund programs designed to reduce inequality. No country on Earth has been able to find a way to fund the kind of social programs and redistribution needed for “reasonable” levels of inequality without VAT rates significantly higher than Ontario’s HST.

Greg Fingas objects.

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