Best case

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In the NHL playoffs, players sometimes point out that if they win 16 games, they’ll win the Stanley Cup. It’s a truism: there are four rounds in the playoffs and four wins in each round will give you the cup. That’s 16 out of a potential 28 games.

The problem, of course, is delivering: actually winning those 16 games. The best-case scenario is that a team will stay around long enough in the playoffs to even get a chance to win that number of games, because, in any individual round, just four losses is the end of the road.

Stop right there, and let’s look at a different kind of best-case scenario.

In a recent letter to the editor in this paper, federal Minister of State (Finance) Kevin Sorenson wrote “Our Conservative government has cut taxes over 160 times saving a typical family nearly $3,400.”

At the time, we asked for more information about that “typical family.” What do they look like? Who are they?

Finance officials, insisting repeatedly they could not be quoted, eventually released the following information from the 2013 federal budget: “Thomas and Colleen are a couple with two children. Thomas earns $45,000 and Colleen earns $70,000. As a result of actions taken by the government since 2006, they are expected to pay $2,220 less in personal income tax, including $670 as a result of the Child Tax Credit and $300 they have saved by taking advantage of the Children’s Arts Tax Credit and the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit. Thomas and Colleen are also paying $1,000 less in GST because of the government’s reduction of the GST rate from seven per cent to five per cent. Combined with personal income tax relief, this family will benefit from a total of $3,220 in tax relief for 2013, allowing Thomas and Colleen to invest that money in important family priorities.”

Late last week, that typical family got a little more confusing.

Thomas and Colleen, like Michael and Kate in 2012 and Blake and Laurie (just introduced in the Tories’ latest budget), are a fiction. They are 16 wins to the Stanley Cup, the best possible scenario the federal finance department could massage out of the numbers.

Match everything about that family — be in a position to take full advantage of every benefit to the max — and you might possibly save $3,200 — not $3,400 — in taxes.

Keep in mind, though, that first, you need to be that “typical family” (Keep in mind also that, for the math to work, your average family had both wage-earners get a 20 per cent wage increase in the last two years. In 2012, “Michael” was making $40,000 and “Kate” was pulling down $60,000. Blake now makes $48,000 a year, and Laurie’s doing pretty well at $72,000 a year. Anything like that happen to your family recently?)

Just like in hockey, there are winners and losers in the economy.

Maybe you’re not “Thomas and Colleen.” Maybe you’re “Frank and Judy,” where Frank’s lost his forklift job because his company outsourced to China and Judy’s a newly laid-off postal worker or some other recently axed federal employee.

But look on the bright side: Frank and Judy are certainly paying a lot less in taxes, too. Woohoo.

Geographic location: China

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Recent comments

  • T. Sleeveen
    February 25, 2014 - 12:18

    IT doesn't matter, as long as HArper is the PM, the Tel;egram is going to continue to slag him. The fact that people are paying less taxes is less important than the perception the media creates and enhances.

    • Tony Rockel
      February 25, 2014 - 13:35

      ...they're paying just a little bit less in taxes, yes, but at what cost?