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

Emily Harris (centre) started the in-person Monarch Moms meet-up groups in July, when it was much easier to physical distance in outdoor spaces. Harris started the group as a source of connection for women navigating the ups and downs of having a baby during a pandemic. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Victoria new mom group navigates challenges of motherhood in a pandemic

Monarch Moms meet once a week for physically-distanced connection

Joanne Smith has been visiting Goldstream Provincial Park since she moved to Langford two years ago. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Visitors flock to Goldstream Provincial Park for 2020 salmon run

‘I wanted to come here before I move back to Australia,’ says visitor

The Takaya inspired sculpture currently in Kent Laforme’s outdoor studio. The 25,000-pound piece of Vancouver Island marble could be installed on Cattle Point. (Kevin Murdoch Photo)
Stone Takaya sculpture could soon ‘howl’ at Cattle Point

Oak Bay inviting public suggestions for 25,000-pound marble sculpture

Royal Bay students are among the list of SD62 schools that will be trained by Pacific FC coaches and staff in a new soccer academy partnership. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Pacific FC partners with Sooke School District soccer academies

Royal Bay, EMCS and Dunsmuir Middle students to receive professional training

Police closed McNeill Avenue after a workplace death Oct. 20, 2020. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Tree-pruning community gathers in Oak Bay after tragic death

Crews met in solidarity at site of Tuesday incident

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation load lobster traps on the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., after launching its own self-regulated fishery on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Vancouver Island First Nations back Nova Scotia’s Indigenous lobster fishermen

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council calls for action before lives are lost

Skiers line up to start the Royal LePage Comox Valley Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race. Photo by Tim Penney
Popular Comox Valley adventure race cancelled for 2021

COVID forces Comox Valley Royal LePage Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race cancellation again

Reader’s Lens
Richard Ashton took this picturesque scene from Whiffin Spit looking toward the Salty Towers dock and East Sooke. To submit a photo to Reader’s Lens, please email editor@sookenewsmirror.com. (Contributed photo)
Reader’s Lens

Reader’s Lens Richard Ashton took this picturesque scene from Whiffin Spit looking… Continue reading

Most Read