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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - July 10, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta Your taxes by I. H. Asper Education on new tax system needed By I. H. ASPER The legal maxim that every-, one is assumed to know the law is as obsolete as two-pant suits, yet it still governs. In fact, many lawyers agree that the retention of this ancient bit of folklore is partially to blame for the erosion of respect by the public for our legal institu- tions. It was probably never true that the public knew the laws with which it had to in earlier times fewer people encountered or were direcuy affected by the legal ma- chinery. In recent years leg- islative bodies have been grinding out new laws at such a rate that it is fair to say that even a lawyer no longer knows all or even the major- ity of the law. Certainly this is true of the tax laws. And if that's true, what chance has the average citizen? There are several possibili- ties we could do away with the outdated principle by pro- viding that where a citizen runs afoul of the law, it is a valid defence for him to prove that he didn't know of the law's existence but would promote anarchy. that ART DIETRICH DENTURE CLINIC Certified Dentol Mechanic Metropolitan Bldg. 32M09S Another solution lies in ask- ing that governments show more restraint in their prolific production of new and complex laws. One can't optimistically cherish that hope because as the world becomes more com- plex and international com- merce dominates Cana- dian life, our laws necessarily become more remote from and less understood by the people to whom they apply. A more realistic approach is to insist that the principle that all people are expected to know the law is converted from fiction to reality. That is, since government has the au- thority to make new and com- plex laws with little public in- terference or understand i n g, government must assume the responsibility of ensuring that these laws are widely under- stood. The current income tax re- form Bill provides an outstand- ing example of what is re- quired. Even the most cursory tour through the 600-page labyrinth will tell the traveller that he is entering a new world, filled with unfamiliar concepts, abounding in novel phrase- ology, and employing a new jargon which will take a gen- eration to fully comprehend. For example, one of the key I paragraphs in the new Bill which tells the taxpayer what is taxable is contained in one sentence embodying over 300 words. Others are much long- A Match For Any Process FRICK industrial refrigeration equipment SUPPLY INSTALLATION MAINTENANCE SERVICE Call Phone orWrite for Information REPRESENTATIVES FOR WESTERN CANADA PHONE 255-81411 iEGGlh INDUSTRIES LIMITED 6520 MACLEOD ALTA. OVER 40 YEARS OF DEPENDABLE SERVICE The language of the new world will keep the courts busy and the cash registers of pro- fessional advisers ringing for at least a decade. At some Jme in his life, almost every jaxpayer will be touched by some of Hie new concepts: cu- mulative eligible capital, ad- justed cost base, listed per- sonal property, superficial loss, principal residence, excessive elections, income averaging annuity contracts, refundable dividend tax on hand, net capi- tal and non-capital losses, cat- egory A shares, cumulative deduction accounts to name but a few. Future historians may well conclude that the tax system was established as a make- work program. Certainly some are currently suggesting that life would be less anguished if all income were turned over to the government intact, with the government then returning to each citizen what it thinks he's entitled to keep, rather than the reverse. Since Canada hasn't yet com- pletely adopted that view, the government's obligation, in as- sisting a smooth transition from the old to the new tax world, is clear. It would be in the national interest if a course in taxation were made com- pulsory at the senior high school level. This has long been needed for reasons other than the current introduction of a new tax system. Anyone who has questioned a representa- tive cross-section of both high school and university students will quickly reach the inescap- able conclusion that our youth, though they may vote at the age of 18, doesn't receive suffi- cient education in what makes the country tick. In most cases, our young people have barely the faintest notion of what the tax system is all about. So it is also with most adults. The introduction of a new tax system affords, government a unique opportunity to begin anew the process of restoring some truth to the illusion thai all citizens know the law. Ottawa ought also to imme- diately launch in co-operation with the provinces, a back-to- school program for adult tax- jayers. Such a course on the t system could be easily and inexpensively arranged. Starting this Fall, courses could be given in the evenings at the universities and high schools. It is likely that be- ween Finance Department of- 'icials and volunteers from the _il and accounting profes- sions who would likely accept their responsibility to contri- bute to public understanding of the new laws, the teaching staff could be assembled at lit- tle or no cost. But even if there were costs attached, it would be well worth it if a large section of the public were to take ad- vantage of the opportunity to get a ground floor education. Such courses in the past have not always served the mosl useful purpose because they have been aimed chiefly al such lowly targets as "How to Fill Out Your Income Tax ByGene Fawcette EGGS WITH 35% tESS CHOLESTEROL HAVE BEEM PRODUCED BY AN EXPERI- MENTAL DIET RDRHENS FORMULATED AT KANSAS STATE U. THE SUBSTANCE, ASSOCIATED WITH CARDIO- VASCULAR DISEASES AND FOUND IN ALL ANIMAL FATS IS ESPECIALLY HEAW IN EGGS..,