Taxes are taking a bigger chunk out of Canadians' budgets than basic necessities like food, clothing and shelter, a new report from the Fraser Institute says.
The public policy think-tank calculated that over the past 50 years, an average family's total tax bill has increased 1,738%, the report Canadian Consumer Tax Index 2012 said.
Over the same period, the cost of shelter increased by 1,185%, food by 518%, and clothing by 500%.
"Taxes from all levels of government make up the single largest expenditure facing Canadian families," Charles Lammam, Fraser Institute associate director of tax and budget policy research, said in a release about the report Thursday.
"In fact, the total tax bill has grown more rapidly than any other major item in an average family's annual budget since 1961."
The report notes in 2011, the average Canadian family earned income of $74,233 and paid $30,792 in taxes, for a total tax bill representing 41.5% of family income.
In 1961, the average Canadian family earned income of $5,000 and paid $1,675 in taxes, for a total tax bill representing 33.5% of family income. The report also notes in 1961, the average family spent 56.5% of its income to pay for shelter, food, and clothing.
By 1981, the spending demands had evened up: 40.8% of an average family's income went to governments in the form of taxes, while 40.5% was spent on shelter, food, and clothing.
By 2011, the situation was nearly opposite that of 1961: the average family spent 33.6% of its income on the necessities of life while 41.5% of its income went to taxes.
And the fact that the federal government and most provincial governments are running budget deficits means current taxes don't even cover all government spending, so the situation is actually worse than it appears, the report said.
"These deficits are essentially deferred taxes into the future since the shortfalls must ultimately be repaid by working Canadians," Lammam said.
"If we include government deficits in the calculations, the total tax bill for the average Canadian family is actually $33,455 in 2011, not $30,792. This means the average Canadian family faces a future tax bill of an extra $2,663."