Canadians' tax bills outpaced housing, food in 2017

by Steve Randall16 Aug 2018

Despite rising mortgage costs, rents, and grocery bills, these were not the biggest drain on the average Canadian household income last year.

The Fraser Institute says that taxes accounted for 43% of a typical family’s income in 2017, more than double the amount spent on housing costs.

With an average income of $85,883, taxes totalled $37,058 while the cost of housing (including mortgage payments and rents) was $30,597.

“Many Canadians will be surprised to learn that taxes—and not life’s basic necessities, including housing—is the biggest household expense,” 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 2017.

In 1961, the average family would have paid 33.5% of income on taxes and 56.5% on housing, food, and clothing.

But tax bills have soared 2,112% since, the study says, with housing costs rising 1,480% in the same period.

“Taxes help fund important public services that Canadians rely on, but the issue is the amount of taxes governments take compared to what Canadians get in return,” Lammam said. “With 43% of their income going to taxes, Canadians might ask whether they’re getting the best value for their tax dollars.”

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