While the growing cost of living continues to be top of mind for many, a differing perspective has emerged on our cost pressures. Despite the rising prices we see today, the proportion of income spent on necessities like food and clothing has declined substantially over time. In 1961, Canadians allocated one-third of family income to these costs; today, they make up less than 15 percent.

Instead, a recent report suggests that the burden of escalating expenses weighs more heavily on taxes. The Canadian Consumer Tax Index tracks family expenditures on necessities (food, shelter, clothing) and taxes. Today, the average Canadian family spends 45.3 percent of income on total taxes (pie chart). Since 1961, there has been a 2,778 percent increase in the taxes we pay, far outpacing the 863 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index that measures changes in prices.1

Who shoulders the heaviest tax burden? When comparing the share of tax paid to share of income, the highest-income earners do. The top 20 percent of income earners (family income over $243,000) pay 61.9 percent of personal income taxes (PIT) but represent only 45.7 percent of total income. Every other income group pays a smaller share of PIT versus share of income.2

1. https://www.fraserinstitute.org/studies/taxes-versus-necessities-of-life-canadian-consumer-tax-index-2023-edition;
2. https://www.fraserinstitute.org/studies/measuring-progressivity-in-canadas-tax-system-2023

Harbourfront Wealth Management was one of Wealth Professional Magazines 5 Star Brokerages for 2022. Wealth Professional is a free online information resource for all Canadian advice and planning professionals. This is not a paid award Harbourfront Wealth Management is not a sponsor.

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