I remember the days when everyone had to pay at least some income tax. That was also the time when the annual income tax return had to be filled out by hand.

Those days may still be here, but it seems that whenever I make my tax return, I don’t get anything back at the end. Why? Is it because I’ve been lumped into the same groups as every other tax evader or is it that tax is a three-letter word? A word that has no meaning or a word that has profound consequence when paid at the till at some Wal-Mart or any other retail outlet? Let me explain…

Once upon a time, tax was the denizen of the lowly worker, forced to pay their dues to someone who owned the land they toiled on. These poor labourers had no choice but to fork up and pay the bourgeoisie so that they could enjoy drinking fine wines out of crystal glasses and go to horse races with their fair ladies in waiting.

Today, the horse race is still there and so is the fine champagne, but now everyone pays their taxes. Many taxpayers say that Indians don’t pay taxes, but we do, at every gas station, dépanneur and store in Quebec, including bars. Why is this so? Let me explain further….

When Quebec attempted to go on its own as a separate country a dozen years ago, it envisioned everyone paying tax to the government and getting rich off the backs of every hard-working Jeanne and Jacques. Just the same as in the old days, but, with one catch: they had to be part of the country of Quebec. Where did that leave us, as non-taxpayers? Good question.

Paying taxes, it seems, is just as sure as death, you live, you die and you pay taxes in between those two phases.

I can think of the many ways we continue to pay taxes to the government today. First at the till; our status cards now work only outside of the wannabe country of Quebec, where for some reason or other, Indians are taxed and no notice is given to our status card and usually given the snooty nose up attitude when questioned. We pay taxes at restaurants and on everything we pay for, except on reserve lands. Once off our sacred lands, the tax man breathes down our necks with a panting fervor usually reserved for neck lovers such as vampires.

Another tax we pay to the government is a hidden tax. It’s hidden in the pleasure centre in our brains and this centre urges us to pay more than we can afford. What tax can do that? VLT tax, that’s what.

In one year, we paid an equivalent of 25 million smackaroonies to the Quebec government in bars and casinos around the province. This is a self-adjusting tax; it depends on how much you make and how much you can’t afford to put in.

For some, it is as high as 99 per cent. For others, it’s the cost of a bingo card. For many, it’s something we just can’t get by without. It’s the voluntary tax that eats away our hard-earned moolah and can’t be accounted for.

Who wants to know that mom and dad is supporting someone else’s sports dreams and don’t have enough money left over to buy that hockey stick?
The only good thing I’ve heard lately is that the feds are lowering the infamous GST by one per cent and offering the whole country their five per cent solution, to which we all breathe a sigh of tax relief.