As the spiked eggnog becomes a distant memory, it’s time for the Higgs government to outline a pro-taxpayer agenda that can help cure your high-tax hangover.
Taxpayers were hammered last year with the highest inflation rates in decades and soaring living costs. The best way for the government to ring in the new year is to leave more money in taxpayers’ wallets, where it belongs.
Thanks to inflation, most New Brunswickers were forced to make do in 2022 with the equivalent of 11 months of the wages they earned in 2021.
A huge part of the inflation squeeze has been government. Governments have profited off of inflation as taxpayers felt the pinch.
Last year alone, the Higgs government brought in $305 million more than it expected in sales tax revenue due to inflation. Sales tax is charged as a percentage of the final sale price of a good or service. When prices go up, so too does sales tax revenue.
To put that into perspective, with that much money, the Higgs government could lower in the HST by one percentage point and leave $183 million more in taxpayers’ wallets. Government revenue would still be up by over $120 million, but New Brunswickers would have more money to spend on gas, groceries and other essentials.
To pay for even more sales tax relief, Higgs could eliminate corporate welfare handouts, which cost the province over $130 million in 2022.
Higgs has already delivered substantial income tax relief for New Brunswickers. Late last year, the government announced it was cutting income tax rates for all New Brunswickers earning more than $44,887 a year. That will decrease the income tax bill for the average New Brunswicker by $300. But income tax relief needs to be extended to all. As we roll into 2023, Higgs should announce an income tax cut for taxpayers making under $44,887.
Higgs also deserves some credit for being the most fiscally responsible premier in Canada. Higgs’ government balanced the budget every year throughout the pandemic, and last year paid down the provincial debt by nearly $1 billion.
In New Brunswick, unlike in other Canadian provinces, the debt clock is going down, not up. Higgs needs to continue to do good work on this file and pay down even more debt so that New Brunswickers send less money to bondholders on Bay Street and spend more money on taxpayer priorities.
One final area where taxpayers need to see action from the Higgs government is at the gas pumps. In Newfoundland and Labrador, Premier Andrew Furey cut the gas tax by seven cents per litre last June until at least March 31, 2023. The average Newfoundland and Labrador family will save up to $500 at the gas pumps. While Higgs has done well in delivering tax relief on the income tax side of things, more action is needed, as New Brunswickers will be hammered by yet another carbon tax hike from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a few months.
Last year, New Brunswick led the nation in terms of both tax relief and paying down the debt. The Higgs government deserves a lot of credit for both. But taxpayers want to see more action in 2023. Now is the time for a sales tax cut, an income tax cut for those with lower incomes, further debt repayment and relief at the pumps.
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