If you look at your take home income versus your gross income you often get a feeling of the amount of tax you pay in your life. Comparing that to everything else you can easy see your tax bill, at least in Canada, is you biggest expense by far (in the US it might be health care, but that’s another story). Yet despite record government spending in the last year which you will have to eventually pay for I’m amazed at the number of smart, rational people who don’t put two and two together and realize yes learning about taxes will save you some money, but the big dollars are in shaping government policy.
Yes getting involved in politics is actually down right critical to your personal finance situation. Otherwise you may seen insane self serving programs that have a highly limited benefit being financed with your tax dollars: my personal favorite is the mass transit tax credit, like somehow saving $7 off a transit pass is going to make anyone take the bus more. Or shifts in government policy that effect your wealth: we do all recall the decision to tax income trusts after they promised not to do it and the massive loss of wealth.
Now despite the word politics leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths there are various levels of involvement for you to consider depending on your time available and interest level:
- Vote. In any election you can, it doesn’t matter if it is federal, provincial or your local regional government. When a campaign is on spend some time getting to know the issues and then take the time to vote. It only happens once every few years normally (or annually federally at the moment *sigh*), but at least having your direct say in things will provide funding to your party of choice (federally) even if they don’t win.
- Donate Money. Actually you get a tax credit of 75% of your donation back up to your first $400 you donate to a federal party which is damn good. Provincially the credit might vary, see the link above for details near you. Money has a lot to do with winning an election so if you find someone you mostly agree with you might want to consider sending them $25 in the next election.
- Donate Some Time. You can drop off some fliers, answer a phone, attend a rally or just about anything for a party you like.
- Put up a Sign On Your Lawn. It’s fairly painless way to help out your candidate of choice, but be prepared to have a debate with your neighbours on why your candidate is better than their candidate.
- Join a Party. Strangely this is what most people feel the most reluctant about doing, yet it provides you best means of influencing a party’s policy and hopefully eventually the government’s policy. You don’t need to put in much time if you don’t want to. Your level of involvement is a personal choice.
So what about me? Well up till recently I didn’t do much beyond vote, but I’ve decided to start getting a bit more involved since I would like to see one tax policy more than anything else: income splitting. That by itself would be worth thousands annually to me so it’s worth a bit of my time trying to make it happen.
So what’ s your involvement in politics?