First published in The Province Newspaper March 28th, 2019
British Columbian families will be forking out about $687 more to the government this year, so don’t let politicians tell you there are no new taxes.
During the budget presentation in Victoria, the NDP-Green government said we aren’t getting tax hikes this time around, delivering what many called a “nothing budget” — but that’s far from the case.
Don’t believe it? Let’s add up the bills and take a look at the total.
ICBC rates are going up this year by an average of $133 per driver for the basic rate. For a two-vehicle household, that’s an extra $266 per year. The government still hasn’t released its optional rate increase, which could be in the double digits. (The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has filed a freedom-of-information request to find out how much the optional rate increase will cost.)
The government will argue that insurance premiums aren’t a tax. In most places, they’re not. But in B.C., ICBC is a monopoly. British Columbians aren’t allowed to shop around for the best price on insurance. That makes ICBC rate hikes a lot more like taxes than premiums.
The B.C. carbon tax is being jacked up again to $40 per tonne, translating to a hike of 9.8 cents per litre of gasoline, including the GST tacked on top of the tax. If you have a two-vehicle household with a Toyota Camry and Dodge Ram and you fill up once a week, this hike to the B.C. carbon tax is going to cost your family an extra $146 per year for commuting to work, dropping the kids off at school and driving to the grocery store.
Tax-hike subtotal: For insurance on our vehicles and the carbon taxes to fill them up, our bills are going up by $412 for the year.
If this family lives in Langley and they pay the Metro Vancouver TransLink tax on gasoline, which is being hiked another 1.5 cents per litre of gasoline, that means they will pay an extra $146 per year.
Tax-hike subtotal: $558 more per year thanks to this government, and we’re not even out of the car yet.
Average households will pay an extra $21.75 on their natural gas bills thanks to this carbon tax hike, so it will cost you more to heat your home and cook your meals.
Tax-hike subtotal for driving, heating and eating in B.C.: $579.75.
The carbon tax and ICBC aren’t the only tax and rate hikes this year. The Employer Health Tax, EHT, has kicked in, on top of the Medical Services Premium. Most job creators with a payroll of more than $500,000 per year need to pay this new tax. The City of Vancouver is jacking up property taxes by 4.5 per cent in 2019, with an average increase of $108 per year per household, largely because of the EHT also hitting municipalities.
For many employers in B.C., the EHT is a quadruple tax kick.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has spoken with small-business people who are getting hit hard. First, they already pay the MSP. Second, they are being forced to pay the new EHT. Third, since municipalities need to pay the EHT, that means the job creator’s business location is getting a property tax hike. And fourth, business owners also face a personal property tax hike on their homes. That’s getting taxed four ways from Sunday for the sin of employing people in this province.
All told, this year’s tax increases will cost your household an average of $687 more.
When provincial politicians tell you that they aren’t costing you more this year, do the math and hold on to your wallet, because their promise is as good as a three-dollar bill.
Kris Sims is B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.