2015 was the first time I insured my photo equipment. It was also the year I tallied up how much camera gear I own and what it was worth: $35,807.20! It’s worth considerably less now due to depreciation, but that wasn’t what surprised me. What blew my mind was how much I paid in GST and PST. At 5% GST and 7% PST in British Columbia, I paid an additional $4,296.86 in sales tax! Holy hell!
Taxes are great for a lot of things, and I’m glad to live in Canada where healthcare is free, roads are paved, and anyone can have a high school education. That being said, while I was building my photo business, $4,296.86 left my bank account, providing no direct benefit to me, and that could’ve been easily preventable! I could’ve borrowed equipment, bought used gear, or gotten by on cheaper gear. If sales tax weren’t a thing here, that $4,000+ could’ve bought me another Canon 1D X used!
Sales tax is particularly insidious because once you get used to it, you don’t even think about it anymore. Even BC’s 10% liquor tax is simply accepted on top of the already crazy 5% GST. See that 24-pack of Budweiser advertised for $32.99? It’s actually $37.94 plus $2.40 for the bottle deposit: $40.34! HOW IS SOMETHING WITH AN INVISIBLE 18% MARKUP DEEMED ACCEPTABLE BY ANYONE? You know how 18% automatic gratuities are annoying at restaurants when you have a large party? Every time you buy ANYTHING and have to pay sales tax, you’re forced to “tip” your government. I’m not saying that’s bad; I’m saying it’s something you should at least think about. Aren’t you already paying enough in income tax? You should be doing everything in your power to not pay more!
This March, I spent $696.48 on Alcohol (which is an improvement). $605.63 of that was stuff I was actually able to drink, and $90.85 was sales tax. I could buy a lot of beer for $90.85. Heck, I could BREW a lot of beer. What I hate to admit about this is Alcohol is an entirely unnecessary expense. In buying $605.63 of unnecessary beer, I threw away $90.85 for the luxury! It’s just gone, providing me no benefit! HOW IS THIS OKAY? And what about the four tickets to San Francisco I just bought for me and my friends? The base fare was $595.36 USD, the federal tax was $44.64 USD, and then there’s a bunch of shit like “passenger facility tax” when I don’t even know what that is! Total damage: $752.80 USD, or $1,034.28 CAD. Only $817.97 CAD went towards the flight. The rest is bullshit I have to pay because I had the gall to actually buy something with my money. WHAT ELSE AM I SUPPOSED TO USE MONEY FOR?
From now on, tax is not “invisible” to you. When I bought my $6,000 camera and received a bill for $6,720, I should’ve been outraged. Sales tax is a ripoff. Look for ways to avoid sales tax legally. Buy things used. Borrow things, since you don’t own anything anyway. Avoid luxury items. The more expensive something is, the more money goes up in smoke for no good reason. Live frugally, and save your money. You literally get robbed with every in-store transaction.