B.C.’s carbon tax went up to $40 a tonne effective April 1, as other provinces are required by Ottawa to start paying the climate change charge on carbon fuels at half that rate.
The latest B.C. carbon tax increase brings the cost to 9.98 cents per litre of gasoline, once the federal GST is applied on top of it, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
The minority B.C. NDP government has made two changes since coming into office in 2017. To gain the support of the B.C. Green Party, they started increasing the carbon tax last year, with annual increases to 2021 to reach the $50-per-tonne level mandated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The four provinces that have refused to implement their own carbon tax, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick, have it imposed as of April 1 at $20 per tonne. Carbon tax is emerging as a key issue in the federal election set for next fall, with dissident provinces launching court challenges to what they say is an intrusion into their jurisdiction by Ottawa.
The other change made by the B.C. NDP is ending the “revenue neutral” requirement, which triggered automatic decreases in business and personal income tax to offset the revenue. While B.C. Finance Minister Carole James didn’t increase income tax rates for this year, the rising carbon tax now comes off the bottom line of higher-income family budgets. James added an additional $40 million to B.C.’s fund for lower-income families to offset carbon tax.
Another major tax change for B.C. is the advent of the Employer Health Tax (EHT) on payrolls exceeding $500,000 per year. Employers shoulder that as well as the remaining year of Medical Services Plan premiums for those that pay MSP as part of a pay package.
Many B.C. municipalities, bound by union contracts that include covering employee MSP, are raising property taxes to cover the additional costs of the EHT.