Editorial — Your pocket picked

It’s a new year, and that means that all levels of government have their hands in your pockets a little more deeply than in 2012.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation sent out a press release last week outlining just how much additional pocket picking is coming our way in 2013. The list is substantial.

The most substantial, and perhaps the most unfair, is the boost in Medical Services Plan premiums. These premiums will go up by $60 per family this year, and have now risen 24 per cent ($300 per family) in three years — far more than the rate of inflation.

This boost in MSP fees was first brought in by the provincial government to help deal with its deficit, and it has since discovered that it’s a tax boost that  causes minimal political trouble. It appears this premium will keep rising until enough members of the public start to pay full attention to just how much it is costing them.

The federal government doesn’t get off scot-free. As of Jan. 1, premiums for Employment Insurance are rising, and so are contributions to the Canada Pension Plan. While contributors will get their CPP contributions back eventually if they retire and collect CPP, the same cannot be said for EI. A small portion of the population actually collects it, but all working people and their employers pay dearly for the program.

Municipal governments, who are in the midst of giving their employees raises, will boost property taxes by two to five per cent this year. Exact rates in Langley Township and Langley City haven’t been set yet. TransLink property taxes are also rising.

And TransLink will also take more from people who actually use the transit system, as fares rose on Jan. 1.

The province is facing a massive deficit and claims it will bring in a balanced budget, so that adds up to all kinds of tax increases that we have yet to see. But in the meantime,  BC Hydro, controlled by the province, is raising rates by almost four per cent on April 1.

Taxpayers may get a small break if the PST, due to come back on April 1, isn’t levied on some services, as happened under the HST. We will wait and see what happens on that front.

One thing is certain — governments have an  insatiable appetite for our money. While much of the money they take goes to useful services, there is plenty of room for better management and for minimal tax increases.

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