This one all goes to taxes

Michael Johansen
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T4. T4a. T5. T5a? Where’s the T5a? Oh, there isn’t one.

Back to Line 12, then, on Chart A of the Statement of Business or Professional Activities, collate that to Line 9925 in Area B on Page 4 (of 5) on the same statement, Line 11 in Step 2 for the Northern Residents Deductions and Line 5 of Schedule 8 and throw them all together into Line 435 on Form T1 General 2011: Income Tax and Benefit Return.

No, wait, that’s not right. At least, I hope it isn’t. Better start again. I’ve got plenty of time — three hours at least before the post offices close on the Canada Revenue Agency’s deadline day.

So, from the beginning of Page 1 on the T1 General: first name and initial. All right now, I knew them the last six times I tried filling out the form. Where did I write them down? Not under the heap of gasoline receipts … not under the hotel bills … not under the stack of past-due notices from the phone company … oh, here they are: right where I left them on top of this slim pile of revenue reports.

Oh, so that’s who I was before I began this yearly odyssey of calculation through the income tax labyrinth, all to figure out how much money must be sent to the federal and provincial governments.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe taxes are a good thing, if fairly and progressively levied in a socially democratic state. I only wish I had more say in how they’re spent.

Unfortunately, even under the most open of regimes, it is rarely given to the taxpayer to determine how his or her contributions are distributed.

They may go towards something worthwhile — a national daycare program, support for the arts, an effective search-and-rescue system, the creation and maintenance of national parks, the defence of our borders and citizens, the alleviation of poverty and homelessness, or even helping to pay off our immense national debt. But the government-of-the-day can easily decide to spend them instead on some expensive attack aircraft or just give them as tax cuts to big transnational companies.

However, the common good dictates that to maintain civil society, taxes must be paid regardless of whether they’re properly used for everybody or not.

Still, the obligation to pay taxes doesn’t deprive citizens in a democratic society of the right to complain about them. They also have the right to offer unsolicited suggestions on how taxes might better be collected.

For example, a 711500er like me (Revenue Canada’s classification number for Independent Artists, Writers and Performers) and every other independent contractor — which is the fastest growing class of workers in the economy, and will grow even faster as the federal government dumps thousands of skilled employees into the freelancer pool — could possibly suggest that tax time not be used to charge them premiums for an employment insurance they need, but can never collect.

That’s what a freelancer might want. No doubt, every worker-

segment in society has ideas about how to make the system work more in favour of their interests, or at least less against them.

A thing to keep in mind, however, for anyone trying to get the government’s favourable attention  — be she farmer, fisher, taxicab driver, factory worker, newspaper writer,  agricultural supplier, electrician, plumber, painter, butcher, baker or candlestick maker: your chances of success seem to depend on how many millions of dollars you already earn every year.

Mind you, those of lesser means don’t need to content themselves with complaints, which provide brief satisfaction but do nothing to pay bills. They can possibly turn the tables on the Canada Revenue Agency and use tax time as a means of earning money.

For once the members of 711500 have an advantage over other professionals.

A performer, for example, might fill a theatre with a depiction of the trials and tribulations of paying taxes, an artist might sculpt the ultimate “Thinker” out of an endless mass of unfilled forms, and a writer might compose a rushed and rambling account of his last-ditch, last-minute filing — creative possibilities abound! Riches may not ensue, but the sweet irony is delicious.

Michael Johansen is a writer

living in Labrador.

Organizations: Canada Revenue Agency

Geographic location: Residents, Canada, Labrador

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