Take a look at these three quotes:
“Don’t worry,” the doctor said, “Those stitches are just temporary. We’ll remove them in seven days.”
“Sir, if you fill out this form, we can issue you a temporary permit for your vehicle. It will expire in ten days.”
“You’re hired. Remember, this is just a temporary contract. After three months, we may not be able to keep you on as an employee.”
If you had never heard the word temporary, you might get an essence of what it means from the above quotes. If you had your copy of Merriam-Webster’s dictionary at your disposal, you could locate it under T and read:
lasting for a limited time
How long is a “limited” time? Limited is defined as:
confined within limits
Why am I looking up the word temporary on this rainy April morning? It is relevant, I assure you, and I will explain, but first, it’s important to know what day it is:
April 26th. T-minus four days until income taxes are due in Canada.
But what are taxes? Let’s open our Merriam-Webster diction…
Just kidding. We all know what taxes are. They are as certain as death, or something like that. The popular quote about “death and taxes” is usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin and was uttered in 1789. Canada didn’t even exist back then. I mean, the land mass we now know as Canada (even the arctic parts the Russian keep trying to lay claim to) has been there for a while, but the sovereign nation known as Canada is just over 150 years old.
So when did income tax start in Canada? Drum roll, please…
It was part of the TEMPORARY war measures that were put into effect in 1917. This archived page explains how the Income War Tax Act of 1917 was conceived. The idea was to tax the income of Canadians to help pay for the First World War, which was placing an “unprecedented drain upon the financial resources of the Dominion of Canada”. This measure was designed to be…
You guessed it, temporary.
But wait, we still pay income tax today, over one hundred years later, so how could it be temporary?
A lot of people have been scratching their heads over the same question, but don’t worry because I have figured it out. That’s why you come to Not Sheep Minded. Like many fathers before me, I have the answer to everything.
The reason we still pay taxes today, even though the measure was called temporary at the time, is because when they passed the law it was opposite day.
Don’t believe me? Check out these antonyms (opposites) of temporary:
limitless, endless, indefinite, ongoing, unlimited, long-term, permanent
The Great War (aka WWI) was expensive, sure. There was not much to worry about because the politicians of the time were just as useful as they are now. They had already come up with the scheme to put a tax on alcohol and tobacco. Train tickets got taxed. Good thing they built that railroad. Then there were taxes on money orders, cheques, medicine. Tea, coffee, etcetera. There were taxes for businesses. Finally, they came up with the idea to tax all Canadians’ income (The Governor General being the exception, of course, but more on that another day).
Bravo, but this was only the Great War. If income tax was only temporary, how would Canada finance the Greater War, or even the Greatest War? A permanent tax was one trick, but of course, there were more up the sleeve.
The leader of our neighbours to the south summed up nicely what he recognized as the culmination of such tricks to finance wars in 1961. If you haven’t watched it, I strongly suggest you check out Eisenhower’s speech, where he lays out his fear of what is now known as the military industrial complex.
Although Canada is not as deeply invested militarily as our neighbours to the south, we certainly do know how to create new taxes. We give them cool names too, like “Harmonized Sales Tax”, “Eco-tax”, and “Carbon tax”.
So I had this idea that this tax year we could all pay homage to our forefathers who created our income tax laws, on that opposite day, all those years ago. How, you ask?
By declaring it to be opposite day and “paying our taxes”. Wink. Wink.