Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Tax Rebates for Using Public Transit?

With big hat-tips to Ravishing Light and the Phantom Observer, the Conservative Party is planning on releasing details of a plan to offer tax rebates for taking public transit (Canada.com, Tories to pledge transit-use tax rebate):

A Conservative government would offer tax rebates to Canadians who use public transportation, party leader Stephen Harper will announce at a national caucus meeting in Toronto this week.

Details of the plan have not been made public, but Mr. Harper is expected to lay out a plan allowing those who use buses, trains and other public transportation to claim the expense on their taxes, party insiders say.

The party's finance critic, Alberta MP Monte Solberg, met with Toronto Mayor David Miller recently to discuss the proposal, which Conservatives hope will increase their popularity in the Greater Toronto Area.

''The plan is to be announced this week, the reason it was brought up at that meeting was just to give [Mayor Miller] a heads up,'' a Conservative party spokesman said yesterday.

As always, the Liberal Party was quick to slam the hidden agenda.
Scott Reid, communications chief for Prime Minister Paul Martin, said he would not discuss the idea of transit rebates until it was officially unveiled by the Conservatives.
That sounds super.

Anyway, I do have my hopes up and I hope I'm not disappointed.

From a personal perspective, my family pays $500/month or $6,000/year to commute to and from work - while we leave the car, we barely drive, in the commuter train lot. That's two monthly train passes and one roll of subway tokens per month. On more than one occasion, I've thought about sitting down, and doing the math of whether or not it would be cheaper to drive in.


Anonymous said...

Dumb idea. Why should I have to subsidize bus riders? Allof the arguments that Hraper used against child care subsidis applies here. HArper seems so unprincipled in his appraoch. Is he really for or against subsidies?

Jim (Progressive Right) said...

A personal tax rebate is not a subsidy. If you're using after-tax dollars to contribute to something that benefits Canada, that is not a subsidy, if you get part of it back.

Offering incentives to the public to use public transit is a good thing. Incentives that will increase ridership, increase public transit revenues, and reduce the need for the real subsidies everybody pays for now.

Increasing ridership means less traffic congestion, less pollution.

Anonymous said...

And how long do you think it will take the public transit systems to raise the fares to correspond to the rate of the rebate? Not long, I'd bet.

It would be much better to increase gas taxes and put that new revenue into increasing the availability and quality of public transit. If you don't make car usage less attractive, you're not gonna change peoples' habits.

Jim (Progressive Right) said...

Well, I don't think there'd be a need to raise transit fares, as the transit fares wouldn't need to be changed -
there'd be no rebate at the fare-box.

Public transit users would just collect their pass receipts, say, like they do for daycare, and make a line claim on their tax return.

Jim (Progressive Right) said...

And besides, raising the tax on gas hurts the people who need to drive (taxi drivers, truck drivers, farmers, etc.)

Plus, those who have no choice but to rely on automobiles, such as those in rural towns where there isn't the infrastructure for public, will be unfairly targeted.

ferrethouse said...

Shameless self promotion but I just had an interesting debate with a guy about this at my blog...