Statistics Canada has revealed that the Conservative government’s tax system introduced under Finance Minister Michael Wilson penalizes married people. Of all married couples, 58 per cent had less disposable income in 1989 than if they had lived together without marrying. The amount going to the government through saved tax credits and extra taxes was a staggering $5.6 billion, or $1,560 a family.
For example, a couple with a combined income of $50,000 and one pre-school child lost $4,000 by being married. An Ontario couple with three children and an income of $60,000 would be $5,494 a year worse off than a similar common-law couple.
The elderly were hard hit as well. Three-quarters of couples in which one spouse was over 65 had less disposable income than if they were not married. The average cost was $2,780 a family.
The main reason is that transfer payment programmes and child and sales tax credits have eased the burden on single-parent families, but increased it on married couples.
As the Globe and Mail put it editorially, “Love and marriage may go together, but marriage and the tax system are uncomfortable bedfellows.”
The publication of these statistics should provoke a debate in Parliament and the search for a remedy for an unjust situation, said Jim Hughes of Campaign Life Coalition. Government is making a mockery of the natural order when people asked why they are living in a common-law relationship, can reply with a cynical smirk, “because it pays,” he added.