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

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More calls come in for Cullen’s removal as NDP candidate

Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs demand Cullen’s removal. Ellis says, There’s no place in B.C. for racism

Martin Holzbauer, independent, Nicole Halbauer, BC NDP, and Ellis Ross, BC Liberal Party, are the candidates for the Skeena riding in the upcoming provincial election. (Terrace Standard/BC NDP)
Skeena candidates talk northwest education

Online learning access and early childhood education were common themes

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

David Block, director of development services for the City of Terrace, explains City staff’s new approach to bylaw and official community plan amendments associated with the proposed inland port development. (Jake Wray/Terrace Standard)
City of Terrace changes approach to inland port development process

Keith Estates Neighbourhood Concept Plan to be dealt with separately

Martin Holzbauer, independent candidate for the Skeena riding in the Oct. 24 provincial election, is seen here outside the Terrace Standard office on Oct. 1. (Jake Wray/Terrace Standard)
Learn more about Skeena’s independent candidate

Martin Holzbauer says he wants to bring a unique point of view to the race

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry answers questions during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. sees record-breaking daily COVID infections with 499 new cases over weekend

Two people, both in the Lower Mainland, died due to the virus over the weekend

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read