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RUSSELL WANGERSKY: Tapping into new sources of revenue generation

Eventually, there’s a point where a product is so wildly expensive or esoteric that money is no longer an object.  - Volokhatiuk
Eventually, there’s a point where a product is so wildly expensive or esoteric that money is no longer an object. - Volokhatiuk/ 123RF Stock Photo

 

You can, if you like, purchase the “Renaissance 41-Light Candle-Style Chandelier by Schonbek” on Wayfair’s website for a whopping 35 per cent off right now, and pay only $50,115 instead of the usual $76,559.99.

You might prefer the Regina 84-Light Crystal Chandelier by House of Hampton for $55,299.99, at 52 per cent of its original $114,581.99 — but hurry. The website warns, “Only 7 left in stock. Buy Soon!” You can become your own Sun King with the mere entry of your credit card details: “Bring the beauty and passion of the Palace of Versailles into your home with this ageless classic,” the product overview gushes.

If you really want to beat the neighbours, though, hold out for the 538-pound Jessenia 66-Light Chain Crystal Chandelier, a showstopper at $90,999.99 (free shipping from manufacturer in China included), with an added $119,800 fee for Swarovski Elements crystal, instead of the normal Royal Cut.

Eventually, there’s a point where a product is so wildly expensive or esoteric that money is no longer an object.

Oh, sorry if I got your hopes up there — it’s out of stock just now. Try again after Jan. 8.

Now, before anyone accuses me of making fun of people who like chandeliers, allow me to mention the $25,999 (marked down from $30,221.99) hand cut and polished bone-and-horn dining room table … or maybe the Leonardo da Vinci painting “Salvator Mundi,” which sold at auction on Wednesday for the low, low price of US$450 million (US$50 million of which was auction fees). Heck, there’s even disagreement about whether it’s really a da Vinci work; some call it a great work, others have classed its unknown purchaser as a sucker.

What, you might ask, am I talking about here?

Well, perhaps it’s that there’s a point at which you can honestly argue that you just don’t need something anymore; that it reaches a point where it’s not a matter of spending a little more to get the lighting fixture you like, or the dining room table and chairs you need.

Eventually, there’s a point where a product is so wildly expensive or esoteric that money is no longer an object. A point where the concept of what you need crosses clearly over into the territory of something lesser — becoming what you want instead.

But you know, if price is no object, then the amount you’re being taxed on that purchase isn’t really an object, either. You can probably defend the need to buy a couple of chairs for your living room — but if it’s two 18th-century Louis XV Duchesse Brisee chairs upholstered in cowhide and zebrahide for $23,444.93, plus tax, that’s something else again.

Since we already have a scalar income tax system – one where income above certain set points is taxed at a higher level — perhaps we should be looking at a scalar sales tax system, too. We could set a line where luxuries get their own luxurious tax regime — and we don’t even have to call it a tax. We could call it a “Premium Member’s Club Fee,” just to add a hint of exclusivity to the whole process.

This isn’t an “eat the rich” column — not at all.

This is just a pragmatic view of how we find new ways to dig our way out of the fiscal doldrums that governments at this end of the country often find themselves in. (Though maybe there’s a hint of that old Marxist axiom in there — “From each, according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”)

Because, seriously, if you can afford to subject a $200,000-plus SV Autobiography Dynamic Range Rover to the rigours of the Atlantic Canadian winter, slush and road salt and sea air and potholes and all, well, you can probably afford to pay a premium tax on your ride as well.

Just an idea.

 

Russell Wangersky’s column appears in 35 SaltWire newspapers and websites in Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at rwanger@thetelegram.com  — Twitter: @wangersky.

 

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