Families spending more on taxes than necessities: Fraser Institute [INFOGRAPHIC]

Average family tax bill has increased by 1,886% since 1961, report finds.

August 27, 2015   by PLANT Staff



VANCOUVER — The average Canadian family is spending more of their income on taxes than they do on food, clothing and shelter combined, finds a new study by the right-leaning, Vancouver-based, public policy think-tank, the Fraser Institute.

“Over the past five decades, the tax bill for the average Canadian family has ballooned, and now the amount of money going to taxes is greater than what’s spent on life’s basic necessities,” said Charles Lammam, director of fiscal studies at the Fraser Institute and co-author of the Canadian Consumer Tax Index, which tracks the total tax bill of the average Canadian family from 1961 to 2014.

In 2014, the average Canadian family (including unattached Canadians) earned $79,010 and paid 42.1% of their income in total taxes ($33,272) compared to 36.6% ($28,887) on food, clothing and shelter combined.

The report suggests this trend is a marked shift since 1961, when the average family spent 33.5% on taxes and 56.5% on food, clothing and shelter.


The total tax bill reflects both visible and hidden taxes that families pay to the federal, provincial and local governments, including income taxes, payroll taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, health taxes, fuel taxes, alcohol taxes, and more.

The average Canadian family’s total tax bill increased by 1,886% since 1961, dwarfing increases in annual food costs (561%), clothing (819%) and shelter (1,366%).

“With growth in the total tax bill outpacing the cost of basic necessities, taxes now eat up more family income, so families have less money available to spend, save or pay down household debt,” Lammam said.

Even after accounting for changes in overall prices (inflation) over the 53-year period, the tax bill shot up 149.2%.

“While taxes help fund important government services, the issue is the amount of taxes that governments take compared to what we get in return. With 42% of income going to taxes, Canadians might wonder whether they’re getting the best value for their tax dollars,” Lammam said.

Click here to download a PDF of the report.

Print this page

Related Stories