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How regressive is the GST? I understand the standard argument, but neither basic food nor shelter are taxed. For poorer households, that leaves only transport as a big item still taxed. I realize that some fraction of rents are ultimately subject to the GST (e.g. paint, utilities, and 3rd party services), but not always very much. Are there any numbers on these things?

Yes, somewhere, I should think, but I don't have them. I do know that when the GST credit was set up, the idea was to make sure that people with an income less than a certain threshold would not be worse off - that is, the rebate they'd receive would at least compensate for the GST that low-income households had to pay.

It should maybe be more Mike Wilson's legacy and not Mulroney's but that's splitting hairs, I guess. I still marvel at Canadian's "hate" for the GST. As I recall, though I think most tax policy officials would argue for consumption taxes over other forms, the main consideration for moving to a VAT type tax was to scrap the endlessly inefficient and administratively complex manufacturers sales tax. The political mistake with the GST was to allow exemptions contrary to officials policy recommendations. The other political mistake with the tax reform measures in the late 80's under Wilson was to de-link the '87 income tax reform from the implementation of the new GST. The substantial personal income tax reductions of most taxpayers couldn't be used to help balance the perceived increases of goods & services subject to the new GST.

Incidentally I can't stand Mulroney. His lace curtain traits become more and more embarrassing as he deeps into senility. He has no class and takes every opportunity to demonstrate it.

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