Tax policy by trial and error

The MLA report by Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett

I’ve had a lot of people ask me to explain the provincial budget in plain language because they want a clear picture of what to expect.

Starting April 1, everyone in the province is going to pay more through an increase in the carbon tax.

This affects all fossil fuels from gasoline to natural gas. Expect to pay an extra 1.1 cents a litre at the gas pump — each April — for the next four years.

This is going to impact consumers as much as drivers because of the increased cost of transporting everything, including groceries.

People who heat their house with electricity don’t escape either, because hydro rates go up three per cent on April 1 too.

The new Employer Health Tax – or payroll tax — will replace MSP and shift the burden of health care costs from individuals onto private companies, municipalities, school boards, health authorities and non-profit associations.

Anyone with a payroll of $500,000 or more will start paying tax for each person they employ.

If the payroll amounts to $750,000, your organization will be paying an additional $14,625 annually. If your payroll matches the maximum of $1.5 million, an organization can expect to pay an extra $29,250 per year (plus an extra 1.95 per cent of payroll over $1.5 million).

If this sounds like a tax on jobs, you are correct.

The new real estate Speculation Tax is the most controversial. It doesn’t target people who are flipping houses. It’s really an annual property tax increase on empty homes.

It’s supposed to stop foreigners from driving up the cost of real estate, and despite some tweaks by the finance minister to exempt some cabin owners, it still misses the mark on curbing speculation or housing affordability.

The Speculation Tax is disrupting the construction industry in tourism-centred communities like Kelowna who cater to part-time residents with vacation homes – with the exception Whistler for some undisclosed reason.

These are the ‘unintended consequences’ of making tax policy by trial and error.

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