Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pop Quiz!

Pop quiz! Let's see who's been paying attention in Parliament this week.

This week, a vote was held on a private member's bill that would have advantaged a particular group perceived as being friendly to that member's party. Who was the bill going to benefit? Was it:

A.) A Conservative Party bill designed to dole out handouts to the oil and gas industry?


B.) An NDP bill designed to dole out handouts to artists?

If you guessed "B", award yourself a priceless no-prize.

Indeed, this week a vote was held on NDP MP Tyrone Beskin's Bill C-427, designed to institute "income averaging" for Canadian artists. See, in many years artists -- who basically pursue their hobbies as if it were a profession -- don't get to work an awful lot. Yet they -- *gasp!* -- still have to pay taxes when they do. I know. Shocking, right?

The bill was defeated.

Well, it turns out that Beskin has a plan to correct this grave injustice. It would allow them to average their income over a certain period of time -- spanning productive years in which they worked and years in which they weren't producing anything anyone had any interest in, and for whatever reason they didn't work in some other capacity.

Now, Canadian artists describe this as "fair." Fair in the sense that it gives them the freedom to pursue their hobby as if it were a career, and as a consequence actually pay a lower tax rate when their work might actually have some value. Compare this to working-class Canadians, who do not enjoy the same benefits.

Now apparently this has been tried before. And abandoned before. Mostly because Canada's tax codes were reformed to make income volatility less damaging.

But apparently Canadian artists want this back because... well, they want it. And apparently because while they love to harp about how the wealthy should pay more and more taxes, regardless of how much they already pay, apparently they don't like paying taxes either.

I know, right? Go figure.