Climate Action, Public Well-Being Mean Reversing Tax Cuts
2014 may have been the year when taxes came to be seen “not as a burden, part of the problem, but as a key part of the solution to our challenges,” write Alex and Jordan Himelfarb, co-editors of Tax Is Not a Four-Letter Word, in a Toronto Star op ed.
The discussion has implications for the use of carbon taxes to limit greenhouse gas emissions, since “in a highly unequal society, the consumption and carbon taxes favoured by economists are a hard sell,” they write. “A ‘price on carbon,’ inevitably passed on to consumers, will have very different consequences depending on where you sit economically.”
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Alex Himelfarb, former clerk of Canada’s Privy Council, and Jordan Himelfarb, the Star’s opinion page editor, cite climate change as “the big game-changer” that “austerity-bound countries with outmoded tax systems” will be in a poor position to address.
“Tax phobia has framed our politics and shaped our governments,” they write. “But the costs of decades of tax cuts and austerity are piling up, and there’s a growing chorus arguing that reversing course on taxes is key to our future well-being.
“After all, taxes are the way we pay for the things we do together that we could not do at all or as well alone. If we don’t have enough money to pay those bills, that means we do less together and more alone. But together is the only way we are going to meet our social, environmental and economic challenges.”