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Carbon tax guzzling more from New Brunswick drivers this year

May 23, 2019
Carbon tax guzzling more from New Brunswick drivers this year

This column was published in the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal on May 23, 2019.

It would be hard to find an ordinary New Brunswicker who wants to pay more for gas. Gas is already expensive enough. A surprising amount of what New Brunswickers pay for gas is actually tax – and Ottawa’s carbon tax is making it more expensive.

Taxes now make up 36 per cent of the total pump price for New Brunswick drivers, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s Gas Tax Honesty Day report. The tax on every litre of gas purchased in New Brunswick is now 46.9 cents. That’s $30 in tax on the fill up of a 64-litre Toyota Camry.

Ottawa’s carbon tax is making life more expensive for New Brunswickers when they fill up their cars and when they pay their home heating bills. 

Like heating your home in the winter, driving is a necessity of life in the province.

Whether you’re driving yourself to work, your child to daycare, or visiting your elderly parent in a nursing home – Ottawa shouldn’t punish you for it with a carbon tax.

The lumber industry isn’t going to get logs to the mill in a Tesla and plumbers aren’t going to start lugging their tools and toilets on a bus.  

Yet gas taxes in New Brunswick will continue to rise every year if Ottawa’s carbon tax isn’t scrapped.

The carbon tax is costing New Brunswick drivers 4.4 cents per litre this year, rising to over 11 cents per litre in 2022. A secret federal briefing document showed that to reach Canada’s emissions target, the carbon tax would have to reach 66.3 cents per litre by 2050. That would mean a carbon tax of over $42 per fill-up.

Ironically, New Brunswick is already on track to meet the emissions reductions targets sought by Ottawa in the Paris Accord agreement. New Brunswick made those reductions without a carbon tax. 

But the carbon tax isn’t about emissions. It’s all about the tax.

New Brunswick now has the third highest gas taxes of any province, up from seventh highest last year and topping the Maritime provinces, due to the carbon tax and sales taxes on top of it.

Many of the taxes on gas are hidden in the pump price.

On every fill-up, taxpayers in New Brunswick pay four different taxes: the provincial excise tax, carbon tax, federal excise tax and HST on top of that.

The sales taxes charged on top of the hidden excise and carbon taxes are significant. On every litre of gas, New Brunswickers pay 4.5 cents in tax-on-tax alone. With a rising carbon tax, this tax-on-tax number will grow even higher.

Governments are driving away richer thanks to the taxes you’re paying on top of their other taxes. The New Brunswick government will collect $48.4 million this year in tax-on-tax on gas and diesel, and Ottawa will grab another $24.1 million from New Brunswickers.

In total, provincial and federal governments will take $1.9 billion from Canadian taxpayers this year in tax-on-tax on gas and diesel.

While New Brunswickers pay higher gas taxes than most provinces, the comparison to nearby Maine is even more stark. In Maine, the per-litre gas tax is only 24.1 cents. That’s less than half of the per-litre gas taxes in New Brunswick.

New Brunswickers already pay some of the highest taxes in Canada. Ottawa’s carbon tax is making life more difficult and it’s time for the money-guzzling federal government to stop taking more from New Brunswickers than they can afford.

Paige MacPherson is Atlantic Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.  

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