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

Boxes of blueberries are being sold in Abbotsford as a fundraiser for four local Rotary Clubs.
Four local Rotary Clubs hold Blueberry Blitz in Abbotsford

Boxes of blueberries available for pre-order, with funds supporing local projects

A graphic designer has created a new concept for an Abbotsford flag. (Instagram photo)
Graphic designer creates new Abbotsford flag concept

Abbotsford resident Alex Svarez shares his idea for the new “flower flag”

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia’s (CFSEU-BC) Uniform Gang Enforcement Team (UGET) has arrested a man who was on the run for nearly a decade. (File photo)
9-year search for international drug trafficking suspect ends with arrest at YVR

Khamla Wong, charged in 2012, taken into custody Feb. 24 by BC-CFSEU

The Great Bear Snowshed on the Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) in British Columbia. Truck driver Roy McCormack testified in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack on Feb. 25, 2021 that his brakes started smoking in about this location, and soon after he lost all braking, which led to a multi-vehicle crash further down the road on Aug. 5, 2016. (GoogleMaps)
Truck driver charged with criminal negligence in Coquihalla crash is accused of ignoring smoking brakes

Just before crashing the smoking truck was seen entering Zopkios brake check and leaving shortly after

Abbotsford professional musician and music teacher Beth Nickel died on Feb. 2 at the age of 41. A concert and endowment fund have been created in her memory.
Concert and endowment fund created in memory of Abbotsford musician

Violist Beth Nickel, an instructor at Bakerview Music Academy, dies at age 41

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Site C will go ahead, one year later and $5.3 billion more, the NDP announced Feb 26. (BC Hydro image)
B.C. NDP announces Site C will go ahead with new $16B budget

Reviews recommend more oversight, beefed up foundation stability work

Several BC Ferries sailings are cancelled Friday morning due to adverse weather. (Black Press Media File)
Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay ferry sailing cancelled due to high winds, sea state

Adverse weather causes cancellations across several BC Ferries routes

The BC Prosecution Service announced last year that it was appointing lawyer Marilyn Sandford as a special prosecutor to review the case, following media inquiries about disclosure issues linked to a pathologist involved in the matter. (Black Press Media files)
Possible miscarriage of justice in B.C. woman’s conviction in toddler drowning: prosecutor

Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge

A kid in elementary school wearing a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Metro Creative)
Union asks why an elementary school mask rule wouldn’t work in B.C. if it does elsewhere

B.C. education minister announced expansion of mask-wearing rules in middle, high school but not elementary students

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: B.C. teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

Teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressures from outside and within

Most Read