What is remarkable about these data is thesimilarity in per capita revenues across provinces once transfers are takeninto account. It still remains true that there is some variability, butthe range of differences is much narrower than in Table B.6.
As mentioned, these raw data are onlyimperfect indicators of the true differences in revenue-raising capacity acrossprovinces. Per capita revenue differences can result not only from taxcapacity differences, but also from differences in tax policies adopted by theprovinces. Those provinces that have higher tax rates (perhaps to financehigher needs for public services) will on that account have higher revenues percapita. We are able to obtain a more precise measure of tax capacitydifferences by using data calculated for equalization purposes, to which weturn next.
Tax Capacity Differences for EqualizationPurposes
The Canadian Equalization scheme bases cashtransfers to the low-income provinces on a measure of their tax capacityrelative to a national standard. For this purpose, tax capacity ismeasured for each tax base by a series of steps. First, a common tax baseis defined and then its size is measured for each province. Next, anational average provincial tax rate is calculated by taking the ratio ofprovincial taxes collected from that source to the sum of the tax bases overall provinces. Finally, a province’s per capita equalizationentitlement for that base is calculated by taking the difference between therevenue raised per capita when the national average tax rate is applied to thetax base of a representative set of provinces and the revenue raised when thesame national average tax rate is applied to the province’s tax base. For someprovinces, this will be positive and for others it will be negative.Aggregating these entitlements over all tax bases yields net equalizationentitlements.40
The first column in Table B.8 reports onecomponent of this equalization calculation, referred to as the Index of Revenue Equality. It showsthe per capita tax revenues that would be raised in each province from all taxsources by applying the national average tax rate to the standardized tax basefor each revenue source. Data are presented for selected years in the1980s and 1990s.
As these data show, there are systematic andpersistent differences in revenue-raising capacity across provinces. Allprovinces except Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario are below the10-province average, and the Atlantic Provinces are well below average.The first column in Table B.9 depicts the same information as percentages ofthe national average. As can be seen, the Atlantic Provinces have taxcapacities that at roughly 70 percent of the national average, while Alberta iswell above average (owing to its large oil and gas revenue base).
Table B.8: Indexes Of Revenue Equality ($ PerCapita)
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