Social Math Making an Impact
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives recently released a report on Progressive Tax Options for BC. In the report they listed off several options for tax reform in BC. Some of their suggestions included:
- Increasing the tax rate for the top bracket ($103,205 +/yr) from 14.7% to 17
- Increase tax rate and add two new taxable income brackets by dividing up the current top bracket into 2 or 3 (i.e. 15% on $103,000 – $150,000 income; 18% on $150,000-$200,000; and 21% on income over $200,000)
- Increase ALL tax rates by 20% and add two new upper income tax brackets at 20% and 22%
- Return corporate income tax rate to 13.5%
- Reduce corporate tax deductions
- Increase the BC carbon tax to $50 per tonne of CO2
The list goes on, to include several more options. However, what I’m interested in pointing out is not necessarily these progressive tax ideas (although interesting in themselves), but how CCPA went on to make this information more relatable to the general public. Many would glance at this report and not be sure of what to make of it. So CCPA went a step farther using Social Math.
Social Math = is a simplistic way of making data and complex ideas more basic by relating it to concepts we already understand. It’s a way of presenting numbers in a real-life situation that is more familiar to the general masses.
So for each of these progressive tax options the actual impact can be better understood using social math, for instance:
- Increasing the tax rate for the top bracket from 14.7% to 17%, would generate $375 million, that could increase welfare benefit rates from $200 to $400/month
- Increase tax rate and add two new upper bracket taxable incomes would generate $700 million, that could build 2000 units of new social housing per year plus restore K-12 class sizes, composition and specialist teacher staffing to levels that prevailed 5 yrs ago
- Increasing ALL tax rates in each bracket by 20% and adding additional upper income tax brackets at 20% and 22% would generate $2.3 billion that could fund:
- 2000 units/yr of new social housing
- Welfare benefit increases
- Restore class sizes, composition and specialist teachers to where they were 5 yrs ago
- First phase of child care plan
- Needed investments in community health care for seniors and people with disabilities
- Ministry of Children and Family Development budget increases
- Increase in post–secondary education funding
- Substantial increases to environmental protection
- Eliminate MSP Premiums
- Return corporate income tax rate to 13.5% would generate $700 million that could develop a more ambitious Climate Action Plan
- Reduce corporate tax deductions would generate $300 million that could be spent on Green industry investments
- Increase the BC carbon tax to $50 per tonne of CO2 would generate $2.2 billion; $1.1 billion could fund an expanded low and middle income carbon credit (making the bottom half of BC households net beneficiaries even with a high carbon tax) and $1.1 billion for public transit and/or building retrofits to reduce greenhouse gases.
They also have various infographics that show the impacts that these progressive tax options could have.
Just by putting this data in to a more familiar context the impact and reach of the information is likely to increase substantially.Ivanova, I., & Klein, S. (2013, January). Progressive tax options for BC: Reform ideas for raising new revenues and enhancing fairness. Retrieved from: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/BC%20Office/2013/01/CCPA-BC-Tax-Options.pdf