UBC economics professor seeks new taxation system

Ross Hickey spoke about strategies for taxation during the latest installment of the Green Party’s speaker series at the Schubert Centre

A University of B.C. professor is calling for a new system of taxation.

Ross Hickey, who teaches economics, spoke about strategies for taxation during the latest installment of the Green Party’s speaker series at the Schubert Centre.

“The very rich have been getting very richer over the past 30 years”, he said.

“At the same time, their tax rates have dropped from 43 per cent in 1981 to just 29 per cent today.”

Hickey says incomes of the top 100 CEOs in Canada increased 27 per cent from 2009 to 2010 while incomes for the average Canadian worker rose 1.1 per cent.

“Failure to reverse this trend will lead to greater crime, social unrest and  public insecurity. Furthermore, there is no relation between our economic productivity and low tax rates. An unfair tax system is unproductive.”

To spread the tax burden fairly, Hickey recommends broadening the tax base on consumer items.

“This may seem unpopular but it will capture more revenue from big spenders. However, it will only work if the increased burden on the poor is offset by substantial increase in transfers to low-income earners,” he said.

“At the present time, government transfers and tax credits for things like home purchase and renovations largely benefit high earners. The poor can’t buy into those.”

Hickey also recommends returning to what he calls a more progressive tax system.

“We must create more tax brackets with higher tax rates for higher incomes,” he said.

“We don’t want to discourage people from working but we do want to have a system that is fair and provides sufficient revenue for education, health care, housing, day care & other social programs.”

The next session of the speaker series will feature UBC professor John Janmaat on the economic and ecological costs of pipelines. It runs at 7 p.m. April 2 at the Schubert Centre.