B.C. Finance Minister Carole James presents her last budget in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 18, 2020. Its modest surplus forecast was quickly erased by COVID-19 and a deficit nearing $13 billion. (B.C. government photo)

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James presents her last budget in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 18, 2020. Its modest surplus forecast was quickly erased by COVID-19 and a deficit nearing $13 billion. (B.C. government photo)

B.C. VOTES 2020

B.C. parties battle over tax promises to recover from COVID-19

Sales tax cut or another round of borrowed relief payments

The biggest-ticket promise of B.C.’s surprise 2020 election is a tax cut. Andrew Wilkinson’s proposed elimination of B.C.’s seven-per-cent sales tax for a year would cost, by the party’s own estimates, $6.88 billion, while bringing it back at three per cent would forgo another $3.9 billion.

By contrast, NDP leader John Horgan’s vow to send out another round of $1,000 pandemic relief payments to most families in the province is budgeted to cost $1.45 billion, added to a pandemic-driven provincial deficit headed for a record $13 billion without additional measures promised in the Oct. 24 election.

Wilkinson says the removal of sales tax will leave $1,700 more in the bank for an average family of four, as well as help small businesses weather the long winter of COVID-19. While Horgan points to the PST savings one would receive when buying a yacht, Wilkinson notes that lower-income people pay proportionately more sales tax because their income goes mostly to day-to-day expenses.

RELATED: B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs

RELATED: Leaders vow action on crime, cancer, COVID-19

Another divisive tax issue in the election is the NDP’s speculation and vacancy tax in areas with low rental vacancy rates. It caused an uproar in vacation destinations like the Okanagan, and a hasty retreat from the Gulf Islands and other rural areas where people have summer homes.

Horgan says the tax has caused 11,000 condos and other homes to be rented out at least six months of the year, and expects to raise $80 million from property owners who pay it. Wilkinson says the NDP tax doesn’t target speculators, and a B.C. Liberal government will impose a new “condo flipping capital gains tax” on resale of pre-build purchase contracts, a speculative market that has driven up costs in Metro Vancouver.

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau went into the only televised election debate Oct. 13 without a full platform release, with the snap election called one week into her term as leader. Her first tax promise is to impose carbon tax increases on fossil fuels that were frozen under the former B.C. Liberal government and then postponed by former NDP finance minister Carole James as part of the government’s COVID-19 relief plan.

James also postponed payments from business on its new employer health tax, imposed on payrolls of larger companies to make up for the elimination of Medical Services Plan premiums paid by individuals and some employers on their behalf.

Horgan has accused Wilkinson of opposing the employer health tax, but the B.C. Liberal budget contains only a promise to appoint an “independent fair tax commission” to review all provincial taxes and recommend adjustments.

B.C. Liberal tax highlights:

• Eliminate the small business income tax, currently assessed at two per cent

• Introduce a seniors’ home care tax credit up to $7,000 a year for housekeeping, home repairs and supportive care

B.C. NDP tax highlights:

• a 15 per cent tax credit for businesses on eligible new payroll as part of the pandemic recovery plan

• a temporary 100 per cent PST rebate on selected machinery and equipment, not yet specified

B.C. Greens tax highlights

• End oil and gas tax incentives such as the deep-well drilling incentive that has been applied to B.C.’s fast-growing shale gas industry in the northeast.

• Immediately reinstate the scheduled carbon tax increase and return to increases of $10 per year


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pixabay image
Surrey recovers 29,000 jobs it lost to pandemic

That’s according to Surrey Board of Trade’s fifth Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Report on COVID-19

A worker is seen throwing a chicken in an undercover video in 2017 filmed by California-based animal rights activists Mercy For Animals.
Fraser Valley chicken abuse trial delayed until February

Originally scheduled for a jury trial, Sofina and Chilliwack company now face judge alone

Desmond Tompkins helped curate and host a youth art show at the South Surrey/White Rock Learning Centre. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey/White Rock Learning Centre art show highlights ‘diverse perspectives’

With COVID-19 protocols in place, youth art show underway

The SACH Community Hub team, from left to right: Upkar Singh Tatlay, Gary Thandi, Allysha Ram, Jassy Pandher, Harman Pander. (Submitted photo)
There’s help for South Asian men wrestling with drug addiction in Surrey

South Asian deaths related to toxic drugs increased by 255 per cent between 2015 and 2018

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) is looking into the death of man discovered Jan. 11 in east Maple Ridge. (Black Press files)
B.C.’s police watchdog investigating man’s death in Maple Ridge

Man was found dead Jan. 11 after recent contact with police

Chilliwack Law Courts. (Black Press file)
Man sentenced to 20 months for sexual offences involving a minor in Mission

Will Laws Clark was 22 and victim was 13 at time offences began

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

The Abbotsford Tulip Festival is permanently closing, with plans to eventually set up in Armstrong, B.C. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Abbotsford Tulip Festival is closing, with plans to rebloom in Armstrong

Event organizer says pandemic and sale of land were factors in decision

Most Read