VICTORIA – The B.C. Liberals’ pre-election budget proposes to implement income tax increases on business and higher-income individuals, similar to proposals from the NDP opposition.
The corporate income tax rate would rise one point to 11 per cent effective April 1, accelerating by a year an increase announced in 2012. NDP leader Adrian Dix has repeatedly promised to increase the corporate rate to 12 per cent, where it was in 2008.
In Finance Minister Mike de Jong’s budget, tabled Tuesday, personal income taxes for those earning $150,000 or more would rise 2.1 per cent to 16.8 per cent for two years, starting next January. That increase is to be rolled back to the current rate of 14.7 per cent in 2015, de Jong said.
Dix has indicated that if the NDP forms government, he would impose an income tax increase for those earning $150,000 or more a year, with specifics promised in the NDP election platform.
De Jong stressed that B.C.’s personal income tax rates are still the lowest in Canada for those earning up to $122,000 a year.
With a provincial election set for May 14, this budget will not be passed by the time the brief legislature session ends in late March. Its measures are part of a campaign platform for Clark’s government, and the winner of the election must pass a budget in the fall.
Also proposed is a tobacco tax hike of $2 per carton of cigarettes. De Jong said the effective date is held off until Oct. 1 to give people time to quit smoking, with 100,000 B.C. residents currently taking advantage of a provincial program offering free nicotine patches, gum or approved prescription drugs.
The last tobacco tax increase was seven per cent when the harmonized sales tax was implemented in 2010, replacing the provincial sales tax that didn’t apply to tobacco. That tax is to be retained when the province reverts to the PST on April 1.
De Jong’s budget also proposes to phase out school property tax credits for light industry for the 2013 budget year.